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19. Regarding Learning pt. 5

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Good Morning Families, today is Friday April 10th 2020 and it is now time for our moment of SEL.

Today, I’d like us to consider empathy. But first, I want to revisit something from yesterday. If you remember we talked a little about what time related pressure can do to open-mindedness. I have to tell you that my sense of time is completely off right now.

It turns out, my family, including my kindergartener and my 5th grader, are actually night owls.

I’m amazed at how quickly we went from “early to bed, early to rise” Ben Franklin style work horses, right into a toga wearing Animal house.

For a couple of days this week we even moved the kid’s mattresses into the living room where they would drift off to sleep around 11, with either me, or my wife, crashing out on the couch. I still wake up early, it’s my best “me time” but the rest of slacker-town sleeps until 8 (that’s the misses) and 9:30 (that’s Kindergarten) our 5th grader sometimes sleeps on well past that.

I don’t think I even realized how similar our living had become to my sophomore year of college, until I saw the 11 year-old, stagger into the kitchen, with his unkept hair and his disheveled robe, to grab a slice of cold pizza, still on the counter from the night before. I watched him like a nature documentary; the young human awakens. Between bites and a Rip Van Winkle size yawn he asked me, “What are we going to do today?” It was a Tuesday. It was 11:15 in the morning. Toga! Toga!

What I don’t know is if our biological clocks are off now, or we’ve been off for these last 20 years working in schools. My schedule, was consistently, wake at 5:30, my wife would get up at 6, the kids at 6:30 out of the house by 7. School was 7:25 to 2:55, meetings and work out-of-school time care for the kids, everyone home by 5:30. A little bit of down time for all, dinner, work, books, bed by 8:30 for the kids. Another couple of hours of work for the adults. Repeat for 190 days.

How can that have been right if this is right? It makes me wonder what take-aways we might all have when our situation changes again? Maybe both schedules are right. Maybe that the bio-clock we managed for physical school was right for physical school, and maybe this new bio-schedule is the best way for online school? I don’t know. Maybe they’re both fine systems, if they work.

Now work starts around 8am. It ends around 5 or 6pm. But it doesn’t end, really, until I fall asleep. It’s very strange. I’m working more hours now on school then I was when we went to the building. And look, I’ll be honest, I’m a chronic over-worker. I don’t mean that in complaining/bragging way. I mean I struggle with allowing myself appropriate down time.

I work sometimes to avoid being with myself, I work sometimes out of fear that if I don’t students will miss something. I don’t know if it is part of my nature but I do know it’s part of my nurture. It’s the way I was raised. If like me, you have immigrant blood or poverty in your family history, you know what this is. You work. All the time. When you don’t have a specific thing to do, you make something. Idle hands are the devil’s playground after all. I haven’t been idle since I was supported, by my father, to not be, probably around 1985. When, in order to buy myself a 10 speed, he would hoist me into the dumpsters at a nearby college to grab all the aluminum cans for the recycling center. Toga! Toga!

But, all of my work will change next week because it’s Spring Break. Can you believe it? Next week is Spring Break? I wish for all of us that we were in a space to both admonish and admire parts of the Spring Breaks of Myrtle Beach, South Padre, Havasu. That won’t be anyone’s Spring Break this year. And students, just so you know, in the adult working world, there is not likely a Spring Break, a Mid-Winter Break, a Fall break, a day between the semesters, or prepare yourselves for this…summer break. Unless you want to come back and work in schools. In which case, please do! Bring back your energy and your creativity and your spirit.

But consider, spring break is a privilege for those of us in education. So, while we are away next week, doing whatever it is we will do, I’d like to encourage us take time to work on building our skills of empathy. Remember, empathy is the ability to share in the feelings of others, from different backgrounds, cultures, and situations from our own.

I would suggest that you give time each day next week to recognize, not all of us will be privileged with a Spring Break. Our health care workers, first responders, grocery store and pharmacy workers, bus drivers, so many, will continue fighting for all of us to be safe and healthy. Maybe you stay with people who are working in these areas. Please tell them we are thinking about them. We are grateful.

We should take a minute, to use empathy for all the people whose livelihoods are either on hold or absent right now. They may continue to feel worry, fear, anger, sadness as our nation wrestles with financial and social uncertainty. Maybe you are staying with folks who are feeling these feelings. Ask them how they are feeling. Listen to what they say. Validate their feelings.

We should take a minute each day to consider our friends and families and loved ones who are sick. Maybe these people are with you, maybe they are close to your heart but distant physically.

We should take a minute each day to consider those who have already lost someone during this time or who may be facing the loss of someone.

And lastly, we need to think of our friends and classmates. There is such a wide range of different living styles and housing styles. Maybe, just reach out with in your mind or via some technology to check-in with someone. Let them know you are thinking of them. That you care.

I know part of the time, for me I will work on learning how to be a better father, husband, school counselor, balancing both the new and familiar work that comes with our new learning environment. It will be with us for the remainder of the year and I want to be able to present and prepared for it, when we return.

Please make safe and healthy choices while we are away.

I look forward to connecting with you all, in whatever way we can, when we return on Monday April 20th.

Until that time, may your thoughts and feelings be with you,


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