Break for Change

By Natalie Irons
Associate Director of Instructional Coaching, UCLA Center X

It is hard to believe it is June already and summer break is approaching – or already here for some!

For many it is a much-needed respite from a daily grind. For others, it is a physical and mental break from their environments of continuous stress.

When I recently had the opportunity to hear a superintendent address their administrative staff regarding California statewide educational goals, particularly those of mental health (see CDE’s website for mental health resources), the acknowledgement that mental health is a priority goal for schools and districts was a confirmation as I thought about students who still suffer from the impacts of learning during the pandemic, and about the adults who may also be struggling to feel seen, heard and understood with the challenges they face in schools.

I believe as educators we have a responsibility to create safety in schools and classrooms. As this superintendent pointed out, there is greater negative impact on learning when the problem is not addressed. And so having a safe place to talk and share concerns is vital to the well-being of individuals, and to the system as a whole. As coaches, we know the value of listening, by pausing and paraphrasing, before asking questions. This set of tools is a way of being that students and staff members, alike, can draw from when tensions rise or when someone is stuck and struggling. So, as adrienne maree brown states in Holding Change, “Help people see themselves. Help them harness the full potential of their work, intention, skill, and capacity in this moment.”

How might you be taking time to de-stress this summer?

Who might you need to be for others to see themselves and their full potential? What might that look and sound like for you?