4 For U

For the past 2 months, I have been sending out a weekly bulletin called 4 For U. It consists of resources that I find provide me with Social and Emotional Support. My hope is that they are to do the same for you.

Each bulletin contains 1 blog piece, 1 podcast, 1 short video and 1 quote.

The bulletin is always less than 100 words so it can be read quickly. I always provide links to the blog, podcast and the video. If this bulletin is something that you would like to have delivered to your inbox each week, just sign up via the link at the bottom of this piece.

Below is this week’s 4 For U. I hope you find value in at least 1 of the resources.

 

Blog/Article  

 

Understanding The Introverts Around You

 

Podcast   

 

Tyra Banks: How to Create New Opportunities

 

Video

 

Chimamanda Adichie The danger of a single story 3 min cut

 

Quote       

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.

Louisa May Alcott

Sign Up here

 

4 For U

For the past 2 months, I have been sending out a weekly bulletin called 4 For U. It consists of resources that I find provide me with Social and Emotional Support. My hope is that they are to do the same for you.

Each bulletin contains 1 blog piece, 1 podcast, 1 short video and 1 quote.

The bulletin is always less than 100 words so it can be read quickly. I always provide links to the blog, podcast and the video. If this bulletin is something that you would like to have delivered to your inbox each week, just sign up via the link at the bottom of this piece.

Below is this week’s 4 For U. I hope you find value in at least 1 of the resources.

 

Blog/Article  

 

The Importance of Rest, Relaxation, and Rejuvenation for Long-Term Growth

 

Podcast   

 

Secrets to Increasing Confidence

 

Video

 

Success

 

        Quote       

Let me listen to me and not to them.

Gertrude Stein

 

Sign Up here

4 For U

For the past month, I have been sending out a weekly bulletin called 4 For U. It consists of resources that I find provide me with Social and Emotional Support. My hope is that they are to do the same for you.

Each bulletin contains 1 blog piece, 1 podcast, 1 short video and 1 quote.

The bulletin is always less than 100 words so it can be read quickly. I always provide links to the blog, podcast and the video. If this bulletin is something that you would like to have delivered to your inbox each week, just sign up via the link at the bottom of this piece.

Below is this week’s 4 For U. I hope you find value in at least 1 of the resources.

 

Blog/Article

“A Year In Measure”

 

Podcast

I Loved Teaching, but I Let Others Define Success for Me

 

Video

“You Don’t Have To Be A Perfect Teacher”

 

Quote

“You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering”

— Ernest Hemingway

 

Sign Up here

 

By The End Of The Day

The sooner we begin sharing our imperfections with the people we love and the people we serve, the sooner they will stop expecting to perfect.

The day begins with me pouring out my heart and soul.

Well, maybe that was a bit extreme. Okay, I would start off by sharing some of my biggest screw-ups. I’ve done this so often now you’d think it would be easy. And while it does get easier, it is never easy. But it matters, and after a while, my hope is that you would begin to understand feel why.

Who am I though? I am just one person you probably know little to nothing about. So, I would share stories of other educators who have screwed up as well. And by screwed up, I don’t mean little mistakes. No, I am referring to mistakes that knocked them down hard. Hard enough to make them wonder if they’d ever get back up.

But they do. They did.

Not only do they get back up — they stepped forward.

Hopefully, by this point, you would begin to see, if you didn’t already, just how powerful being vulnerable can be. You would then be given time to reflect with the person sitting next to you. Nothing too personal yet. Just a brief opportunity to talk about what you just heard.

At this point, I think you’d be ready for the next step.

You would be given a half hour to recall a few of the biggest mistakes you’ve made during your career. Maybe you would create a bullet list. Or, maybe you write nothing because the mistake you made is so vivid in your mind that you are able to recall every detail like it happened yesterday.

Either way, whatever you decide, when the half hour is over you are ready. Ready to share. But don’t worry. We start small because being vulnerable is never easy.

So, you and someone with whom you already trust, go off to yourselves. Maybe it’s a different room. Maybe it’s in the hallway. Maybe you go for a walk outside. Regardless of where you choose, what matters most is that you and your colleague can share your mistakes with each other privately.

This may take anywhere from a half hour to an hour. And now it is time for lunch. You have accomplished much and the best is yet to come. While the afternoon may take a lot out of you, by the time we are finished, your staff/team/division will be closer than you ever could have imagined.

When you return from lunch you notice that the chairs are arranged in a circle. You think you know why and it worries you just a bit. Once we are all seated, I begin by sharing a big mistake. One that is quite embarrassing, but one that maybe you’ve made before too.

You have a pretty good idea what is coming next. I ask for volunteers. Little eye-contact is made and the room is uncomfortable. But then someone breaks the ice. Maybe it is the leader of the group or maybe it is someone that you’d never expect.

They begin slowly. And you hang on their every word. As they share, you start to see them in an entirely different light. You feel as if you know them just a little bit better. You two are not so different after all. When she is done sharing you feel the urge to go next. As do many of your colleagues.

Momentum is building. Everyone wants to share. They feel comfortable because they now know that they are not alone. The afternoon goes quickly. The circle is now tighter and stronger. You realize that these are people you can trust. People with whom you share something in common.

 

If we’re vulnerable together, we’re going to get close. We’re going to trust each other, we’re going to cooperate, we’re going to have cohesion. It’s the way we’re built.

Dan Coyle (excerpt from WorkLife hosted by Adam Grant)

 

This is a day you will not soon forget. All this time you thought that trust came before vulnerability. Today, you learned otherwise.

You reflect on the day. While you are emotionally drained, you feel energized and hopeful for what the future holds. These are people with whom you can move mountains. These are your people. This is your circle.

 

∞ If the day I described above sounds like something you or your organization would be interested in — email me at jonharper70@gmail.com — vox me at jharper3658 — or call me at 410-829-7243. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

4 For U

For the past month, I have been sending out a weekly bulletin called 4 For U. It consists of resources that I find provide me with Social and Emotional Support. My hope is that they are to do the same for you.

Each bulletin contains 1 blog piece, 1 podcast, 1 short video and 1 quote.

The bulletin is always less than 100 words so it can be read quickly. I always provide links to the blog, podcast and the video. If this bulletin is something that you would like to have delivered to your inbox each week, just sign up via the link at the bottom of this piece.

Below is this week’s 4 For U. I hope you find value in at least 1 of the resources.

 

Blog/Article  

Principal Hotline: Is Work-Life Balance Even Possible?

 

Podcast   

“How to make a (realistic) plan for summer that will leave you feeling rejuvenated”

 

Video

“5 Minutes For the Next 50 Years Of Your Life”

 

        Quote       

 

Be not afraid of going slowly. Be only afraid of standing still.

Chinese Proverb

 

Sign Up here

We Need Them

In the wake of yet another tragedy, educators will be spending time in the coming week trying to help students cope/manage/understand (don’t know if there is a correct verb) all that has taken place. Not a day goes by in which I am not in awe of educators’ ability to provide comfort and support to children when they need it the most. It’s what they do. While they probably knew that a portion of their days would be spent helping meet their students’ social and emotional needs, I can’t imagine educators were expecting to have so many needs of their own.

But they do.

We do.

Yes, there are supports in place to help us cope with our social and emotional needs. Awareness of our needs is gradually increasing. Yet, I can’t help but think that is an untapped resource that we are neglecting.

Our students.

You read that correctly.

I believe that our students can help us if we just let them in.

 

They Are With Us Every Day

Think about it. We spend between one and seven hours with our students each day. While I am aware of the fact that we are the ones that are supposed to be taking care of them, I believe that they have the potential to help us. They notice things that we don’t. They can tell when we are upset or stressed. I know we are supposed to leave our issues at the door. But let’s be real. That’s impossible.

If we are having a rough day, why not reach out to them. I am not implying that we lie back on the sofa and empty our souls. What I am saying is that it is okay to let our students know when we are not ourselves. I have found that oftentimes they will empathize with us. They can surprise us if we let them.

 

All grown-ups were once children … but only few of them remember it.

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

 

We aren’t that different

The students that we spend our days with, whether they be 7 or 17, need to know that we are struggling too. Not that this will make them feel better. But what it will do is let them know that they are not alone. That we often deal with the same type of sh%$& that they do. We experience self-doubt. We get nervous. We have anxiety.

By opening up to our students, it gives them the courage to do the same. With us. With each other. With their friends. It seems as if every week we hear of someone who is struggling or worse, has taken their life. And yet we had no idea. We can’t let this continue.

 

Why do they treat us like children? they said & I said why do you treat them like adults?
& their eyes opened wide & they began to laugh & talk all at once & suddenly everything looked possible again.

― Brian Andreas, Trusting Soul

 

better Together

We need each other. Our days are spent trying to find ways to help our students and our nights are spent trying to find ways to put ourselves back together. It is time we start opening up to our students — letting them in.

What we are going to find is that once we realize that we need them as much as they need us, we can start to heal and grow and rise together. The children that we spend our days with are amazing. And so are we. But we are also tired. Just like them. Let’s be tired together so that we can then get stronger together.

I think it’s worth a shot.

 

There are things that you have to do, not that you want to do, and those things even though you still have to do them, and they might not be great, they are better because you are doing them together.

Mary Marantz

 

 

 

• “4 Four U” is a Social & Emotional Support bulletin that I send out once a week. It is less than 50 words. It will have links to 1 blog/article, 1 podcast episode, 1 short video and 1 quote. Click the image below if this sounds like something you think has the potential to make your day a little better.

 

 

 

I Was Here On Time!

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Of all days.

Typical.

Last week I had to take my daughter to get some bloodwork done. Nothing major at all. Just routine stuff. But as you well know, it has to be done in the morning and you have to fast for like a million hours.

Not a problem. The lab opens at 7 AM. I need to drop her off at school by 7:30 so she’s on time and so that I can make it to work by 8. The kids at my school arrive at 8:05. I had it all figured out. My daughter and I rushed so that we could make it out of the house a little earlier than usual. Not a big deal — but it took a little extra effort.

We were out of the house by 6:53 and arrived at the lab at exactly 7 AM.

Yes!

We jumped out, walked up to the door and pulled.

It was locked and the lights were off.

Arghh!

I guess that’s why the woman in the parking lot was just sitting in her car.

Great!

Not only would we be starting late, we had someone ahead of us.

At 7:12 someone finally arrived. She turned the lights on and unlocked the door. No sorry, no nothing. She was very short with us and appeared to be in a bad mood. We were the ones that should have been in the bad mood. We were the ones waiting for her.

I signed my daughter in and sat back down. After a minute I realized that I had signed my own name. I was so irritated that I wasn’t thinking clearly. I go up, scribbled out my name and wrote hers on top. It wasn’t neat, but that was their problem now.

About a minute later they called us up. I gave her my insurance card and paid the 20 dollar co-pay. As I was waiting for my card to be processed another employee entered the office. She and the woman who was waiting on me, the one that was 12 minutes late, greeted each other.

I heard one of them say something like, you too huh?

They began talking about how the manager couldn’t find anyone to open up.

And then it hit me.

They had been called last minute. To come to work. And wait on people.

People like me.

That make assumptions.

And overreact.

And make judgments before having all the facts. Before knowing someone’s story.

I was embarrassed.

This wasn’t the first time I had done this and, unfortunately, it probably won’t be my last. I made it a point to share my mistake with my daughter. Hopefully, she can learn from mine.

Life is busy.

School is fast.

We oftentimes don’t have as much control as we’d like over either.

But what we can control is ourselves.

Take time to learn someone’s story before you judge them. I am quite certain you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

First, Learn Their Story

I was standing right there!

Jordan had to have known that I was going to see him. That I was going to bust him. Maybe he didn’t care. Maybe he had already made up his mind. Maybe there was more to the story.

Like an Avenger or Marvel superhero, he jumped off the bus and roundhouse punched another kid all one motion. But I was right there. And he wasn’t getting away with such random violence while I was in charge. Not on my watch!

I grabbed him by the wrist, probably tighter than I should have, and marched him and his victim into my office. Once we were in my office, with the door shut, I laid into him. I mean I let him have it.

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?

But …

WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT?!?

But Mr. Har…

WAIT TIL YOUR MOM HEARS ABOUT THIS?!?

But Mr. Harper.

YES, I’M READY TO HEAR WHAT MADE YOU SO MAD YOU FELT IT WAS OKAY TO JUMP OFF A BUS AND PUNCH SOMEONE AS HARD AS YOU COULD?!?

I finally gave him a chance to speak. To share his side of the story.

 

Mr. Harper, last night, that boy that I punched, snuck into the shed in my backyard and stole my bike. And now this morning, he’s telling everyone on the bus about it. Everyone was laughing at me. He thinks it’s funny.

Wow.

I felt like an idiot. I tried to imagine how I would have felt if I had been him. I imagined someone stealing my SUV out of my driveway in the middle of the night. And then driving around my neighborhood the next day. Honking the horn, with his windows rolled down, bragging everyone in earshot that he had stolen my car.

I’d be livid.

I would have lost it.

I would’ve wanted to…

Let’s just say, I would have wanted to do exactly what Jordan had done.

Now, let me be clear. I am not advocating for violence. I’m just being honest. What would you have done if you were Jordan or if you had your car stolen and then…?

You get the point.

How often do we have higher expectations for our students — children — than we do for ourselves? I’m just sayin’. I know that I am guilty.

More importantly, how many times have we reacted to situations without knowing the full story? We assumed we knew the full story when we didn’t really have a clue.

Most of the time it is our students that fall victim to our assumptions. And we owe them better. They deserve to, at the very least, have their story heard.

Looking back on this event that took place almost ten years ago, I have one major regret. I know that I shouldn’t have gone off and lost my temper the way I did. That just wasn’t good. But that is not my major regret. No, my major regret was that I allowed myself to think the worst of Jordan. To judge him. To think that I was better. Shame on me.

I want you to know that you are not alone. We all make mistakes. And it’s not easy to admit them. But we must. I believe it is so important to display vulnerability. The sooner we begin sharing our imperfections with the people we love and the people we serve, the sooner they will stop thinking that they must be perfect.

 

*Jordan is not the student’s real name.

 

Below are links to several My Bad episodes in which educators made assumptions about their students before learning their stories. I think you’ll find them quite powerful. And again, you’ll see that you are not alone.

 

I Assumed I Was Helping My Student, I Was Very Wrong | Maggie Bolado

I Assumed I Knew My Student, So I Called Her Out: I Was Wrong | Trevor Muir

My Student Embarrassed Me, So I Embarrassed Him, Big Mistake | LaVonna Roth

Sometimes Growth Is Ugly Embarrassing and Hurtful | Don Wettrick

 

Like to watch movies?

Think vulnerability is important?

Check out my latest top five list: Five Vulnerable Male Movie Roles

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It’s Time

A knock on my door (Yes, my door is closed — this is the real world — not the fairytale world that is often portrayed in social media). I get up, open the door and am greeted by a teacher who apologizes for being sick. She asks if I have someone that can cover her class for the remainder of the day. Clearly, she is sick. I can hear it in her voice and I can see it in her eyes. I think to myself, I wouldn’t have lasted half as long as she did. Then again during my 20 years in education and 47 years on Earth, I have learned that women are much tougher than men.

I have witnessed this scenario, or one very similar to it, many times.

Too many times!

What is my point?

My point is that even when teachers are sick or have loved ones who are sick, they will often apologize for having to leave work so they can go home and simply rest, recover and care for their themselves or their family.

What are we doing to ourselves?

What are the long-term effects?

And what can we do about it?

As you may or may not know, I host a podcast called My Bad in which guests come on and share big mistakes. I believe that listeners enjoy the show because they often see a bit of themselves in the guests. They appreciate that the guests are willing to display a vulnerability that is rare on social media.

I believe their appreciation is largely due to the fact that they themselves are vulnerable. We are vulnerable. A quick peek at  the definition of the adjective vulnerable yields the following;

“susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm”

“in need of special care, support or protection because of age, disability or risk of abuse or neglect”

 

This is us!

I read about it every day.

I witness it every day.

I live it every day.

 

Underneath my outside face

There’s a face that none can see.

A little less smiley,

A little less sure,

But a whole lot more like me

Everything On It, Shel Silverstein

 

It’s time to not only talk about it — it’s time to do something about it. I have something that will help with some of the biggest unmet social-emotional needs that every educator has. Let me rephrase that, we have something that can help. I say we because I am alone in my efforts to try and provide what you need — what I need — what we need.

Starting tomorrow — January 23, 2018 — I will be hosting a revamped and reformatted Teachers Aid along with Mandy Froehlich. For those of you who already know Mandy and her work — you know what she is going to bring to this podcast. And for those of you who you don’t, I have just two words for you.

Downward Dog.

Let me explain.

About a month ago Mandy wrote a blog piece titled Destigmatizing the Depressed Educator. It blew me away. She captured what many of us have been thinking and feeling and living for a long time. This was apparent by the number of people that thanked her for her words and honesty.

Oh yeah, the two words that I’ll never forget from her piece — Downward Dog.

Why?

Because in her piece Mandy wrote that what many of us need to become mentally healthy goes beyond Downward Dog. The yoga pose known to help people relax and decompress — literally. I thought her point was clever, brilliant and spot on.

Yes, yoga is nice.

Yes, deep breathing is relaxing.

And, yes exercising can help us to unwind

But raise your hand if you feel like you could use a little more. That is what we are hoping to provide each week with Teachers Aid. This will be a podcast like none you’ve ever heard before. We hope you will give us a few episodes to convince you. You can hear a preview of the show below:

“Yes, I Am a Teacher, a Very Good Teacher, But I Need Help Too”

The Kitchen Sink

My wife and kids leave for school about an hour before I do. Which means I have a good chunk of time to spend how I choose. Sometimes I use it well and sometimes I waste it. Don’t get me wrong, by wasting it I don’t mean that I am lying on the couch throwing down bacon while watching Sports Center. And by using it well I don’t mean that I am editing the final draft of my magnum opus. Probably somewhere in between both scenarios lies the truth.

But one day last week I was feeling anxious. Jittery even. And it wasn’t the coffee. It was nothing in particular. For those of you that have anxiety, like I do, you can probably relate. Those of you that don’t are probably wondering WTH I am talking about. I mean why was I feeling anxious if I had nothing to be anxious about?

That’s precisely the point.

Anxiety is often out of my control.

So with about half an hour before I had to leave for school I decided to try something that I thought just might work. No deep breathing. No gratitude journal. And no meditation. Nothing against either of them — they just didn’t make the relieve-my anxiety-cut.

But you know what did?

My sink that was full of…

Everything.

Dirty dishes and utensils were just sitting—lounging might be a better verb choice—in the sink. Daring me to take them on.

Challenge accepted!

I needed some jams to help me out here. Am showing my age because I just used the word jams? Does anyone even use that word anymore? Ahh,who cares?

My daughter had been listening to Khalid recently and I have to admit. His songs put me in a great mood. So, I put his album on and began tackling the sink.

I emptied the dishwater in no time flat.

Then I attacked the sink. The dirty utensils and crusty bowls didn’t have as much to say now. It was easy for them to give me the side-eye when they thought I didn’t see them.

But now that they were on my radar? Well, let’s just say they showed a little more respect.

As I moved and grooved to American Teen, the sink began to empty.

Forks. Knives. Water spraying. Not too hot, but just hot enough to get that oatmeal off of the bowl I should have rinsed better the night before. In a matter of minutes, the sink was empty and the dishwasher was full.

How you like me now anxiety?!

I no longer felt anxious and my jitters disappeared.

Crazy how something so simple was able to help me deal with something so complex.

But it did. Try it sometime.

The next time you wake up feeling a little off and not sure what to do.

Look around.

Find something that you can do with minimal effort.

Turn on some music that gets you moving.

And see what happens.

What do you have to lose?

 

This piece was inspired by Jennifer Gonzales’ Overwhelmed? Do 5 Things. I was going to try to summarize her piece. But then I realized that any attempt to do so would fall short. So, instead of hearing from me about her piece, just click the link above. I am certain you’ll be glad you did.

 

* To receive my weekly bulletin, 4 For U, aimed at providing social and emotional support just click the image below. It is less than 50 words and consists of 1 blog, 1 podcast, 1 short video and 1 quote.