You often hear people talk about “this season of life.” Some seasons of life are harder than others; Some are enjoyable, and some are more difficult. Many educators are currently struggling with this current season of education. It has definitely been a long, rocky road the past year and a half serving during a pandemic. Reflect a minute on Don Kelley and Daryl Conner’s Emotional Cycle of Change, published in 1979 in the Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators. The cycle below outlines the emotional feelings of those going through a system of change.
I often use this cycle to coach up other coaches when supporting new teachers. This cycle describes exactly what a first-year teacher may feel during their first year of teaching. But more recently, I’ve been thinking this cycle describes how educators are feeling while teaching through this pandemic. Initially, we didn’t know much about COVID, other than schools were pausing as a safety precaution. Most of us were optimistic about getting through the situation. I personally thought it would pass in a couple of weeks. I was obviously in the phase of uninformed optimism, phase I. As our journey has continued, educators have moved into phase II and phase III of this emotional cycle.
While I hope that most educators are starting to move into phase IV, I don’t think that is the case for all. This brings me to the idea of New Resolutions and New Perspectives. Our duties as leaders in our schools, districts, and community may need to shift. You may think you know what your role is; what your job is and isn’t. But this is not the time to say, “I don’t do that.” Many colleagues, parents, and students are living in the Valley of Despair, phase III. They need someone, anyone, who is willing to step up and help. As servant leaders, we should feel called to do whatever it takes to support our staff, students, and community. No task should be too small or frivolous for us to complete. We should feel honored to serve our school community in any way during this season.
So, although I’m not a sub, and you’re not a sub, that doesn’t mean we can’t sub for that teacher out with COVID. Just because I’m not office staff, and you’re not the office staff, doesn’t mean we can’t take 15 minutes out of our day to cover the receptionist’s desk so she can grab lunch. And just because I’m not the lunch monitor, and you’re not the lunch monitor, doesn’t mean we can’t cover lunch duty so the principal can meet with that upset parent. The way we fulfill these duties models our attitude as a coach. It models the mindset of humility, resiliency, and servitude.
Don’t get me wrong, our job… coaching …is important! I will always be an advocate for instructional coaches, but in this season of education, servant leadership may be more important than our to-do list. Our sacrifice may save one teacher from breaking and quitting. Look around you, as you return back to campus. See what areas could use the most support. How can you adjust your schedule or your agenda to support those in need? We need to pull our teachers and students from the Valley of Despair and into Informed Optimism. We need to be the warriors fighting in the trenches for our school community. Believe me, they all need you. So make a new resolution, to be a servant leader for 2022.