Continuing to Develop and Care for Your Heart During Difficult Times

By Brent Bokhart, Cohort 7 Mentor, Principal at Crawfordsville Middle School

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly increased the demands, stress, and mental and physical exhaustion in an educator’s life.  Now, more than ever, it is essential to remember to reflect on your HEART as an educator for both your professional and personal health.  Timothy Kanold does an excellent job in his book Heart! to support educators in this reflection.  These are the five parts that he breaks down for you to tend to your heart and my reflection and challenge of each component.

H – Happiness – “Are you a person of passion, positive impact, and perseverance for the education profession?”

We find ourselves in a time that is easy to be unhappy, especially when it seems situations that are handed to us as educators are currently no-win situations.  I challenge you to reflect on the positive impact that you still have on your students.  Find perseverance through the student who couldn’t wait to step back into your classroom this fall and missed being in school since mid-March.  No greater joy and happiness can come from knowing your students have longed for the day to be back in the classroom in front of their teacher!

EEngagement – “Are you an inspiring person with the day to day energy required to be fully engaged in your work life?”   

Our most challenging times require the most energy to continue to fight through the struggle.  While it is difficult to find that energy, I challenge you to continue to reflect on your engagement as an educator.  Furthermore, challenging times can open doors to either positive or negative energy.  As you reflect, hone in on the positive energy that will, as a result, increase your engagement and give you the positive boost both you and your students need!

A – Alliances – “Are you a person open to influence and shared values, able to become relationally intelligent and collaboratively interdependent with others?”

Relationships help drive the success of ourselves and others. We’ve never needed our colleagues more than we need them right now to persevere through challenging times.  This reflection challenge requires you to focus on your current relationships and either enhance or seek positive collaboration with others.  You don’t have to be alone through tough times, so huddle up, collaborate, and attack as a team!

R – Risk – “Are you a person of vision-focused risks for sustainable change with a growth and data-driven mindset for learning and life?”

As educators, we are in uncharted territories as we look to meet demands such as social distance in-person learning, virtual learning, quarantine learning, mask-wearing, among many other requests.  Taking risks challenges you to either remain or enter the growth-mindset needed to navigate pandemic education’s rough waters.  So, grab that new technology tool you’ve always been afraid of and take a risk that will create success through failure!

TThought – “Are you a person with surface and deep knowledge capacity, thought, and wisdom?”

We can all blaze our path as an educator. The personal touch that each of us provides to our craft makes the profession special, but this can’t be done without personal reflection and thought.  During this time, I challenge that as you navigate movement from one demand to the next to slow that time down and spend time in isolated thought and reflection. What’s working? What’s not working? What’s upsetting?  What do my students think?  Take a moment to hit pause, think, and grow!

“I want you to connect and reconnect to and be mindful of your choices in doing the complex work of an educator.” – Timothy Kanold