Observations of an Emotional Detective

Last time, we discussed the importance of learning to understand our emotions, in order to be effective educators. Our jobs are hard. There seems to be another “thing” added to our plates regularly. Honestly, we don’t think that will ever change. We have learned that the pendulum in education swings and there is always something new to learn. We happen to be in the business of learning too, just like our students are. Seeking collaboration opportunities to work smarter and not harder helps, but it will never be easier. So as we continue to show up in our schools, we need to know our body cues as emotional detectives. We need to feel right, to think right, for our students.

Over the last few weeks, we journaled when we felt overwhelmed by emotions. We are going to be vulnerable and share our experiences with you. I (Christa) am in a new role this year as a behavior specialist. As I learn to navigate my position and learn how to communicate with new teammates, I am noticing all sorts of emotions and feelings. My heart is beating faster at times, I am splotchy red with nerves, I feel tears welling in my eyes and a shaky voice at times. These are uncomfortable feelings, but they are important for me to pay attention to. I don’t want to lose my confidence in myself as an educator. I also don’t want to stay stuck in my discomfort and unsettled feelings. So, I pause and listen to my body. I make note of what is happening when I am experiencing those cues. I brainstorm and process how I could respond in conversation next time. I remind myself that I am here for the kids.

For me, (Kasia), leading through this pandemic has been exceptionally hard. I am the go to person for every staff member and parent in our community. While some are wonderful at reaching out with support and thanks, most of the conversations I have are around conflict or concerns. Over the last week, I felt overwhelmed, and honestly disappointed, in some of the interactions I had with stakeholders. It’s common for communication to break down in times of stress, so it’s not surprising some of the unexpected tones of voice, and complaints I experienced left me unsettled. I noticed mid week, every time a person came to me with a concern, I began to get a nervous stomach, and I started to feel irritated. I would get flushed and feel the need to escape. This was my cue that I was not okay. My position as the building leader is to serve my students, staff, and community. I can not do this effectively if I enter into discussions in this state. Knowing my body cues can help me to listen to concerns, but also advocate for a specific time to discuss concerns. Otherwise, I know I won’t respond from a place of understanding.

As we leave you learning to be aware of your feelings as an emotional detective, we want to remind you of something. Remember, your emotions are yours. Try to find the strength to not put them on others. This is easier said than done, as when we are feeling big emotions, we typically let loose on those around us. As Hope King reminds us often in GYTO presentations and Instagram stories, “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” This means you can appreciate others’ ideas, and still be okay with not implementing them. Just don’t react by cutting them down. When we are not at our best, we tend to compare, and unfortunately bring others down. What makes you feel good about the work you do? What makes your heart feel full and complete? Each of us brings our authenticity to our schools. Our individualism is what makes our schools a special place for our students and families. Thank you for doing the brave work to understand your emotions to better serve our kids.

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