When we are no longer able to change a situation…

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

As we enter March, Women’s “Herstory” Month, March Madness for basketball fans and the coming of spring, you might be feeling like you wish time would stop, so you can catch up with the pace of things. Some coaches are facing questions about how to support teachers and their students to make gains as testing looms around the corner. Some schools are shifting classes to meet students’ social emotional needs. There is a lot to attend to; yes, still.

I’m contemplating a quote from a book I read in my first few years of teaching called Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychologist. In the book he cites Benedictus Spinoza, a Jewish Dutch Philosopher, “Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.” So, Spinoza was saying in the 1600’s that it was important to label our emotions? How curious. I’m continually struck by how counter-intuitive this idea is for people. We tend to skim over the feeling bits to want to help someone move toward action more immediately. And yet, Frankl did also write, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Maybe the move to action lies within ourselves.

As you navigate challenging situations, over what things do you have control? What are some of the ways you have changed during the pandemic? Who might you need to be in the coming months for the people you support?