Over the past few weeks, I have found myself needing to disconnect often, specifically in the professional sense. In all honesty, I feel somewhat guilty about this which is why I chose to share. You either are confused as to why I might feel guilty or you are struggling with similar emotions. See as educators it is our nature and privilege to share our knowledge and resources to help others. I am in awe and filled with great pride by how our educational community has responded to this recent Covid-9 pandemic. Whether it is providing free tools, offering remote learning opportunities, advocating for equity, or just being a sounding board as communities strive to navigate the uncertainty, educators are responding as they do with love, integrity, and determination. There are days when I feel like I personally am not doing enough. How are you feeling?
I have been in this place before where I feel overwhelmed by the noise in the world and so I retreat. It’s nothing personal, although some people may take it that way. This is how I cope when I am in the midst of making major adjustments. I know I can’t stay in this place forever, shoot I have too much work to do. I do understand, however, that when I take the quiet time that I need, I am a better person for it. It’s safe to say that we are wrestling with various emotions. We all respond differently and it’s important to reflect on how we cope through challenges and most importantly how we sustain our joy.
How do you sustain your joy in the midst of challenges? I recently contributed my thoughts about this topic to the book Education Write Now: Solutions to Common Challenges in Your School where I share, Joy is not always evident in situations. We have to be intentional about finding it and supporting conditions that allow for it to spread and flourish. The tricky part is we have to do this regardless of the circumstances that surround us. We may find that some of our situations are not ideal in our minds. We often enter work with expectations and assumptions of how things should be and when they are not, our disappointment impacts our joy. We have to learn to make the shift from expectations to empathy, that is, letting go of the assumptions so that we can embrace the reality of what is in front of us.
How have you worked to sustain your joy as an educator during this time of uncertainty? As this current situation has impacted our normal structure in many ways, every family dynamic is affected differently. It is important to show empathy and understanding toward others and with that, we can not neglect to show ourselves grace and love. It is all too common to believe that we have to “keep on truckin” with the pace of the world. We all yearn for seamless transitions, often out of our concern for others. During these times of uncertainty, we can be hard on ourselves as we stumble through unchartered territory. In the midst of the challenge, it’s important to be mindful that it’s okay to hit the reset button repeatedly. It’s also critical that we find intentional opportunities to tap into our joy.
I would love to hear how you experience, exemplify, and cultivate joy in your role as an educator even through difficult challenges. Last year, I began posting #joywork stories on my site. Please consider sharing your #joywork. Some ideas might include professional learning experiences, specific interactions with people, classroom activities or visits, etc. I’m just looking for a small snapshot to provide a little dose of joy to the world… and to the profession. You will send a picture (or a few) and a brief description (200 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be posting these joyful experiences on my blog as well as sharing them on Social Media.
I am also proud to share that I am working on a book project with EduMatch Publishing called Joy Work: Joy Works coming out this year. The book will feature lessons that I have learned about the importance of tapping into our own joy as well as passionate stories from educators. I can’t wait to share this with you.
In the meantime, stay safe. As I strive to remember that joy is not the absence of challenges, I ask you to consider the joy that surrounds you and is within you even in the midst of uncertainty.
Dr. Lynell A. Powell “Dr. Joy” currently works at a teacher’s college in the area of Curriculum and Instruction. She has been an educator for over 20 years where she has served as an elementary teacher, professional learning specialist, school administrator, and educational consultant. She is passionate about joy in schools and authors a blog, drjoyblog.com.
Over the past year, she began collecting stories about how educators cultivate and experience joy in the roles in which they serve. She is truly excited to share some of these reflections as well as practical lessons in her upcoming book, Joy Work: Joy Works. In addition to this professional learning book, she is completing the first in a series of Dr. Joy’s children’s read-aloud books, called, Back to Zero, focused on social-emotional learning. She is so excited and proud to be connected with the EduMatch Family.