Leaning on Wisdom and Hope in Today’s Climate
February 1, 2022
Leaning on Wisdom and Hope in Today’s Climate
With schools struggling to stay open between COVID and teachers leaving the profession in droves we definitely need some wisdom and inspiration in the field of education right now. Who out there is moving learning forward? And what is giving us hope?

If we’re going to make it through this challenging time in history, actively searching for and reflecting on lessons and hope is going to be crucial. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves right back where we were before the pandemic. And while we’re not in a good place now, we certainly weren’t in a good place pre-COVID.

This week on the podcast, I’m sharing some recent sources of wisdom and hope I’ve found in the connections and conversations I’m having. It’s the little nuggets that hit deeply and that can make a big impact over time.

Listen in to some of the ways you, too, can flip the script and step back from feeling discouraged at the state of the schools right now and sit into more hope. It’s needed!

Jump in the Conversation:

[1:11] – We need wisdom and inspiration in education
[1:34] – Our micro-school is a great place to learn
[2:25] – With reflection, you’ll find sources that are moving you forward
[4:40] – 10% Happier app – re-engage in meditation
[7:24] – What can you control?
[7:35] – Find your Circle of influence
[11:05] – Hope is a life raft when ocean of life is overwhelming
[11:20] – 3 things to make us happy
[12:10] Takeaways from the EdActive Collective gathering
[14:00] The hopeful push for access to kindergarten
[15:04] – Asking leaders to highlight things that give them hope

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of Ed active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
crazy times, with schools struggling to stay open between COVID and teachers leaving the profession in droves. We definitely need some wisdom and inspiration in our realm of education right now. Who out there is moving learning forward, who has wisdom to offer us and what is giving us hope. So our micro school is a wonderful relational learner centered place to learn. Sometimes when I’m on the campus, I am just aware of a sense of magic that this diverse group of students is pulled together and overcoming previous obstacles and thriving. But we’re faced with the same exhausting circumstances that other schools are facing. So I looked back on my own weak and where wisdom and hope surfaced for me. I found three sources of wise advice. And three more sources of hope this week. And it seems like this is a time to seek both. So today, I’m sharing where I’ve been gifted with this awareness. My guess is with a little reflection, you will also find sources that are helping you move forward. And we all need to feel some guidance and see some positive help to light the way when times seem dark. Our kids are counting on us to be there for them. So one source of wisdom this week was our school counselor Vic. He’s a social worker and has spent years working with youth, both in and out of schools. He loves unpacking developmental stages and sharing snippets of how this applies to his wonderful grandson. He joined our after school professional development zoom, and helped us get grounded in the present moment. He began by taking us all through a guided meditation, self care, and slowing down is really important right now. When’s the last time you’ve been able to shut your mind down and just be fully in the present moment? It was a blessing. Then he gave us a State of the Union address a reality check. It’s wise to know and accept present circumstances, no sugarcoating from this guy. And finally, he said, We have to get to joy. We have to play together and laugh together and be able to gift that joy to ourselves and our students. Sometimes it feels like there’s too much work to do for the frivolous use of our time in play. But I know for myself, when I take time to laugh and play, I’m energized and also have a better perspective when I returned to the work that’s ahead of us. So I’m pleased that at our upcoming professional development day between semesters, half of its planning, then we get a lunch donated by parents, and then we’re going to go Axe Throwing as a team. That’s definitely going to be a new experience for me, and more importantly, fun for our whole team. The second source of wisdom is one that a friend got me started on. It’s the 10% happier app, and it’s helped me reengage in daily meditation. The mini lessons and guided meditations work so much better for me than attempts to sit in silence and watch my breath. The app meditations start with a little bit of education. And then a variety of teachers lead the guided meditations. And I’m really finding it beneficial. A recent meditation caught my attention because it focused on perfectionism. Dan Harris, the co founder of 10%, happier interviews meditation teacher, Matthew Hepburn on perfectionism. Matthew unpacks, how we humans often subconsciously, pull out a measuring stick to judge our success. Ouch. I know, I’m guilty of that. Of course, this measuring stick represents the ideal and is often unrealistic. Matthew offers an alternative that provides balance to this habitual experience of focusing on where we are less than our ideal.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 5:55
What if we look back at what we’ve been through? Instead of whipping out that measuring stick? What if we look at all the things we have accomplished or done? Well, so for me, that would mean a shift from feeling responsible, that not all of our teachers are staying this full year, it would mean I shift to acknowledging that as a teacher, let me know, they were leaving, I went into turbo mode, and posted the position interviewed, reference checked and onboarding new teachers to be able to offer continuous quality instruction to our students. That’s a much healthier approach than that measuring stick that has things on it beyond my control out in that ideal world. So take a minute right now and think of one area that you’ve been pulling out that measuring stick and feeling like you weren’t meeting some ideal. Can you flip it and look back at what you’ve been through? Maybe you gain weight in the last six months? I sure did. Can you give yourself credit for the fitness you did work in, or your renewed commitment to get more whole foods in your diet. I find Matthews idea takes me from scarcity thinking to abundance thinking, and it puts me in gratitude. It also led me to remember and review the wisdom offered by Stephen Covey on looking at what I can control. So the third piece of wisdom is Covey’s Circle of Influence lesson. And that definitely guided me this week. According to Covey, there are two circles, we can use to categorize our worries, the big circle, which is our circle of concern, all the things we care about. So I care about health, I care about kids getting learning, I really, really care about the mental health of our youth. Those are all in my circle of concern, and they can weigh me down. But Covey also reminds us that within that there is a smaller circle of influence. These are the things that we care about, and can also affect. I know at times lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with all the things I care about. And then I become reactive, it also shrinks my ability to really hone in and be proactive on those items that are in the circle of influence. I can’t control the crisis in Youth Mental Health, I can help the small number of students at my micro school, get the support they need. So that mental health is not a debilitating issue for them. That’s my circle of influence. And it helps me calm, knowing what I can and what I can’t do. So when I focus on where I can use my gifts, and make a positive difference right now, I’m in that circle of influence. reviewing this concept reminded me that my success is not dependent on my circumstances not dependent on all the insanity in the world right now. But that it’s my chosen response to those circumstances.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 9:33
When I look at my response, I see that, yes, I’ve been overwhelmed sometimes about the pandemic, student mental health, teacher burnout. And then when I go into my circle of influence, I’ve been able to make our student teacher ratio the lowest it’s ever been built in more personal days for teachers and make proactive choices. When I reflect on this, I see it’s actually a boost And of putting away the measuring stick of what my ideal might be, and focusing on my circle of influence. So I’m constantly learning and relearning right along with my students. Let me put a little video clip by Franklin Covey in the show notes to share a bit more on the concept of circle of influence. So the wisdom of our counselor to focus on self care, accept reality, and make sure we play is vital. And then remembering to counter our instinct to pull out that idealistic measuring stick with a look back at what we have accomplished, adds to the wisdom. And finally, taking a moment to look at our concerns and see which we have influence over and proactively putting our energy there is the third piece of wisdom. Hopefully, something in this wisdom will speak to you and be a resource in these very challenging times. I also wanted to look at Hope. Hope is such a life raft, when the ocean of life can be overwhelming. A protagonist in a novel I recently read, said, We need three things to make us happy. We need to feel capable or good at something. We need something or somebody to love. And we need something to look forward to. I’m not sure that those are the definitive components of happiness. But something to look forward to resonated deeply. I know when I finished having a fun time with my art buddy, we always plan our next get together. So we have it to look forward to and it doesn’t fall off the radar. And after a wonderful vacation, my husband and I always talk about what we might want to do next. Again, to have something to look forward to. And to not feel bummed about leaving tropical sunshine and returning to gray soggy Seattle winters are an active collective folks around the United States who come together quarterly to look at how we can be activists for school change recently met. Our guest speaker was Emily Gullickson of a for Arizona. I filled hope, as she shared the ways her nonprofit has been able to team with chambers of commerce and school leaders serving underprivileged students. I will put a previous podcast with her in the show notes. Arizona has been able to change state laws on seat time during the pandemic. I’m kind of surprised we haven’t done this on a larger scale, looked at the lessons that we’re learning from being locked down and having remote learning and adjust old standards that are artificial and actually constrict learning. But the hope is there. Arizona is now giving credit for students learning in many settings within and out of the school building. The idea of how many hours a bottom is in a seat is no longer the measuring stick in Arizona. That gives me hope, because partisanship was put aside as legislators focused on the common goal of meaningful learning for all students. And I look forward to those kinds of measures spreading Emily and also shared that there is a network policy innovators in education doing this sort of work across the United States. Again, I feel anticipation as I look forward to exploring what else is happening, and how I might be able to be a part of pulling along with others and impacting educational legislation. Here in my State of Washington, I will be sure to put the link to policy innovators in education in the show notes. Another movement that gives me hope is our national push to expand access to pre kindergarten education. Early in my career, I taught kindergarten. And there were children who came in with no concept of what a letter was children who knew their letters, children who knew the sounds, each letter made children who could read basic sight words, all the way up to a child who was reading at the third grade level.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 14:30
And this disparity had more to do with access to preschool learning than it did with any innate intelligence. As we look at our social structures, and equity and access, giving all of our precious preschoolers the opportunity to socialize and learn in a preschool environment, regardless of income is a very hopeful and overdue step forward. The third thing that’s giving me hope right now, it was our EDD active collective again, we closed our meeting with them highlighting things that are giving them hope. Getting to this place of hope is important for all of us. And I’d like to share some items from their list. alternative options for learners and awareness that there are these alternatives. increased attention to mental health. This awareness is moving us to make sure folks have supports without being stigmatized. And it’s hopeful that this attention to mental health can be integrated into schools. Teachers being ready to reimagine learning, teachers are seeing the needs, and there is more of a growth mindset within the educational realm right now. The pivot to using technology more like distance learning, where it can make an effective difference. That this gritty time is catalytic for learning to becoming relevant for all learners to thrive. And that there’s more attention to relationships as a priority in school. And those designs in schools are elevated. This makes me think of big picture learning, which does an amazing job of building their learning on relationships. All Be sure to add a link to an interview with big picture learning in the shownotes. Hope does exist when we look for it. And don’t let concerns beyond our influence overpower us. Which is way too easy to do right now. Look around who has wisdom to share, or is leading by example in your life right now? Where can you find hope? Our learners are counting on us. Hang in there parents, educators and leaders. And as my friend Stephen, the Prophet, Cleveland reminded our ad active team take more time to dream. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:33
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit education evolution.org forward slash consult to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners. Signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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