Connection, Support & Fun to Conquer the Struggle Bus

We have recently completed the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence RULER training, along with two of our colleagues. As RULER trainees we learn how to support ourselves, staff, students and family with Recognizing emotions, Understanding emotions, Labeling emotions, Expressing emotions and Regulating emotions. We are embarking on a journey to become an emotionally intelligent school.

This past summer we came upon Dr. Marc Brakett’s book, Permission to Feel. He is not only an author but the founder and director of Yale’s Center of Emotional Intelligence. If you have not read his book we would encourage you to carve some time out and dive in. It is so worth it!

As we all continue to experience a difficult year wearing too many hats, it is important more than ever that we spend time learning how to understand and regulate our own emotions. We need to take care of our hearts and minds so we can be available for our students. We thought this was a great time to have some fun together, but also to re-connect as we navigate our discomfort and struggles this school year. After all, we are all in different places emotionally and professionally.

Do you feel heard? Seen? Valued? We need to have a sense of security, trust and appreciation, just like our students do. How can we work together as a team of educators to improve the climate and culture in our buildings? We are suggesting the need for independent reflection and regular check-ins with teammates and other staff members. Take the time to look up in the hallway and say good morning and ask “How are you doing?” (While really wanting to hear the response). Just as we all work to know our students by name, strength, and need, we need to know each other in these ways too.

Last week, we experienced a professional development that was full of giggles, smiles, support and honesty. We played Twister, Jenga, Headbandz and Pictionary centered around emotions, zones, and coping strategies. We concluded with a read aloud of The Struggle Bus. It is such a relevant story with great illustrations focusing on body language and feelings when things are not going how you would like. As an exit ticket we participated in a chalk talk addressing questions such as:

  • What is one thing that was hard for you today?

  • What was a positive for you today?

  • What do you do when you are on the struggle bus?

  • What do you want to feel more of when you come to Jackson school?

  • How would you support a teammate that feels like they are on the struggle bus?

We don’t take enough time to reflect and ask ourselves such questions on a regular basis. How would this type of reflection improve our school climate and culture? How would this type of reflection impact our ability to empathize and support our colleagues? How would administration's understanding and listening to our reflections, improve their ability to meet our needs as educators?

We all have days, weeks, and even years that we are on the struggle bus. We have each other and that is powerful. Focus on collaborating, bonding, laughing and connecting with your school family. We NEED it!

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