Forget about the kids for a moment: How are you?

16 Nov

In response to a school leader’s query about supporting the adults who are engaging in supportive conversations with their students post-election, I wanted to share a few resources in today’s post. Please note: I think these frameworks and reflections are potentially bipartisan and multipartisan–that is to say, regardless of whether you feel you “won” or “lost” in this Presidential election, it’s been and continues to be a politically, emotionally, socially, personally and morally turbulent time for many of us. I hope these are helpful.

I think adults practicing what we’re doing with students with ourselves, too, is a great strategy. Once again, it occurs to me that if it’s good for kids… it’s usually good for us, too.  I’ve found that facilitating adult spaces with the Courageous Conversations Compass, seeking clarity about enduring intentions and discernment of the specific issues and possibilities for action has been helpful (please see previous posts for more on this).
Regarding additional resources…

I think it’s vital to understand what self-care is, not just as a catch-all buzzword, but as specific, intentional practices regarding political engagement in this inundating time. Self-care as a means to, rather than a destination, is critical in order to do our jobs, and redefine as necessary and helpful what our “job” is.

And here’s an essay “Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy” from Parker Palmer framing our work as healing together. Applying this essay to politics right now means opening ourselves to what suffering, exclusion, disenfranchisement and inequity may be the undercurrent or tide carrying forward the beliefs, speech and actions of whomever we disagree with (and perhaps fear). Inclusion and equity are all or none propositions. We can’t justify inclusion over here for this group, at the exclusion over there for that group. This is the challenge, opportunity and real advancement of justice: what we do when we are hurting, and others are, too (including those who are empowered).

Finally (but not comprehensively by any means), the article “An analysis of Donald Trump’s election win and the prospects for his presidency.” I’m including what I actually wrote to the educational leader who asked me about resources to support faculty and staff as they support their students:

I may be going out on a limb here. Please feel free to tell me to step it back. But in my inbox with your email was a link to this article “An analysis of Donald Trump’s election win and the prospects for his presidency.”
Please click on it before continuing to read this email.

There was something cathartic about it for me. No need to be eloquent, rational. It’s just a page full of visceral response. Which made me laugh. Which opens a space for reflection: so now what? (from an emotionally different place). This is all to say, I might use this as a conversation opener, also later acknowledging this isn’t everyone’s perspective. But first we just exhale. Then we put our educator hats back on. If not this article, then perhaps there’s some other way to give permission for a primal scream?

Again, I don’t know if I’m way out of bounds sending this. But it seemed worth taking that risk.

Notice how my framing was concerned with what was “inappropriate” and “appropriate” to say, and the “appropriate” and “inappropriate” ways to say it. I sense that many of us are grappling with this, which can be exhausting in and of itself. Just having to maintain the bounds of perceived propriety, especially when we’re triggered not just intellectually, but emotionally, morally and by the very social context that we find ourselves having to play “appropriately” within. This is not to suggest that we cast off all filters and let rip whatever we’re feeling however we choose (or feel compelled to). It is to reflect that every person I have made the discernment to share this with has replied back with a visceral exhalation. And, it seems, renewed ability to forge on with more of their whole selves.
* Thanks to my colleague ML for the question.

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