Monday, November 27, 2023

Healing in Our Schools: Connecting us to who we Truly are

Healing in Our Schools:  Connecting us to who we truly are.

Trauma can get in the way of our imagining a beautiful future. Connecting to who we truly are is a practice. Together, we can regulate our nervous systems to build connections to one another. We feel safe. This is the base of the mountain. Students who cannot feel safe or a sense of belonging may not perform well. It is our responsibility (kuleana) as educators to attend to overall connected atmosphere of the classroom community. There is more...we can ascend the mountain to get perspective. We need to understand the context and the histories. There is a story of resiliency in the land. Getting to know the geography and community is a pathway to healing for our students, educators, and community. We can be curious and develop positive classroom constructs that empower healing. Leadership moves can be intentional to lift up and sustain influential presence of black and brown educators. We can explore village-based knowledges like Learning by Observing and Pitching In (LOPI). Students learn how to participate within a community and feel like they are part of something bigger.

For educators, mindfulness is a pathway to connect to their best selves that can advocate for better systems that value well-being for themselves and their students. I’m committed to collective healing that attends to wounds of racism, emotional trauma. By offering practices that are connection-focused, educators enter into the world of their student's community and understand their histories and contexts. Healing belongs in our schools.  The books I've written are vehicles of healing that offer a generative story for students to enter into. It is not just about managing stress and anxiety but as a way to deal with the experiences of trauma and racism. My work as a mindfulness director is to develop awareness and not about staying calm. Students and educators have a right to be agitated. By connecting to our true selves, we are better able to advocate for system change, draw boundaries, and co-regulate with one another. A colleague was challenged that breathing wasn't going to fix the problem of racism. We aren't going to get anywhere with dysregulated nervous systems stuck in trauma and impeded imaginations.

Don’t travel alone. Walk alongside your community to do the good work. Listen and learn with them. Everything worthwhile is done with other people. This is a picture of the community driven to bring more Indigenous educators into our community through a partnership across the ocean with the University of Waitangi.  BIPOC members in our school community need to be honored with action and support. Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith (right of center) has written extensively about decolonizing research done alongside Indigenous communities and let story be the primary vehicle for research.  Storywork is unfolding with engagement knowing that healing happens not always with time but also when people wake up to the needs. Healing within a community is healing for everyone. It is holistic. It is part of the vision.

My theory of change is: when educational leaders form a compassionate learning community to cultivate our inner lives as well as commit to engaged action toward systemic change, then we will be more effective in transforming our educational community, which will lead to a more equitable, compassionate, and embodied experience of learning and living for students, educators, and the broader world we live in. Educators that do their own inner work will not add to educational trauma. The ultimate impact of community/social mindfulness will decrease stress and build resiliency. By co-creating supportive structures for mindfulness to grow, then educators can embody these practices as they mindfully educate their students. Then, students can attach to their consistent, aware, and available educator to feel a sense of belonging, safety, and a reliable environment to learn.

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