A Time for Kindness
“It would seem that, quite possibly, the ultimate measure of health in any community might well reside in our ability to stand in awe at what folks have to carry rather than in judgment at how they carry it.” —Gregory Boyle
It’s August. (Some of you have been working so hard you might not have noticed!) We’ve been in Covid-response mode for four months now...longer if we consider all of the preemptive strategizing we did in the months leading up to the March shelter-at-home order. It’s been a long haul, and we’re not through it yet.
In all that time, we’ve been scrambling to adapt, day after day, to a situation that hasn’t had a chance to normalize. In planning meetings (on Zoom, of course) and casual conversations both on and off campus, I’ve heard more and more comments that tell me we’re all feeling a little tired right now--tired of the need to keep changing programs and processes we worked so hard to plan carefully in the first place, tired of constantly adapting while knowing that there's a good chance we'll have to revise again tomorrow.
Creativity is marvelous, and some of the traits we most want to cultivate in our students are resiliency, adaptability, and tenacity, but long-term pivoting can take a toll. I know you’re making all of those wonderfully creative adjustments with positive attitudes and generous spirits, and I love that about this team! I also know you’re feeling the pressure of trying to make everything new every day while still getting the essential, bedrock, day-to-day work done.
Our students and families are also feeling the strain as our Covid spring has extended through summer and is now threatening our fall. Parents and families are becoming more concerned about what we're doing to protect their loved ones’ safety and wellbeing. Students are worried about their classes and what their college experience will look and feel like.
When we’re tired, worried, or stressed, we can have a harder time maintaining those attitudes and behaviors that help people find their way through difficult times. It is more important now than ever to stay focused, positive, and kind. I want our division to model all of these qualities and more. I want us to extend understanding when people don’t seem to be handling things the way we think they ought to handle them. I want us to exercise as much grace as possible with the employee who doesn’t want to take on another project because the one they just spent months planning is cancelled. I want us to be courteous--firm, but still courteous--with those who believe our mask requirements are burdensome. I want us to be kind to the students who are frustrated because we had to change their schedule in order to put fewer students in a room and gentle with those who are literally terrified when they find out they have to take their class online. I want us to be patient with our administration as they attempt to lead us through a constantly changing reality. And I want us to be all of these things to ourselves, while we, as human beings who also experience stress and worry and loss, continue to show up every day to make sure our students know we are here for them.