Feeling on edge? A little strung out? Wondering daily—as my family, colleagues, students and friends are -- “When is this going to end? How long will it be? I just want to know!”
This week, we watched thousands of teachers around the country reinvent school, moving it online in record time -- these agile, creative dedicated educators are heroes!
Now, how do we help the students who are also being tested by these changes?
This morning, I shared the following in a letter to my middle and upper school students at the Montrose School. Here are some of they ways they can make the most of their education during this unusual time. Perhaps others will find it useful, too.
1. TAKE SCREEN-FREE BREAKS
Whether you have ten minutes or thirty minutes break, step away from ALL screens including your phone.
Talk with someone at home, take a walk around the backyard. Put your focusing powers at ease. Zone out, listen to music, look at nature, wash some dishes, organize your study area, paint or sketch.
These purposeful breaks will strengthen your focusing power when you return to class and academic work.
2. ESTABLISH A DAILY ROUTINE
Start with going to bed and getting up on time. A good deal of the research on productivity, leadership and what highly successful people do highlights one fundamental habit: getting up at a set time and establishing a healthy morning routine.
Many leaders credit their ability to work well with how they begin their morning: meditation, a short time of prayer, being grateful and setting an intention for their day.
Make your bed! Exercise. Eat a good breakfast.
Review your priorities and schedule times in your day to complete the tasks that help you to achieve these priorities. Focused and productive people don’t simply make lists of what they have to do, they block time in their schedule to do the work.
3. SCHEDULE TIME IN YOUR DAY FOR PEOPLE AND PERSONAL PASSIONS
Eat meals with your family. Set up specific times to connect with friends outside class (don’t maintain open, online access all day long—it’s exhausting).
Put your phone down and use short windows of time (10-20 minutes) to practice an instrument, read a good book or learn something new.
Listen to how the Italians live solidarity in quarantine and express their shared passion.
Don’t waste your energy wondering and waiting for the time that you will be free again. You are free. Seize the day. Live now. You have the power to learn and grow right now. Claim each hour as your own.
But don’t do it alone. Ask for help—from parents, teachers, mentors and friends. Ask God for the grace you need to understand how you are being called to greatness in the ordinary circumstances of this day and how you can inspire greatness in others.
I like to keep St. Teresa of Avila’s beautiful poem on my desk, and I wanted to share it with all of you:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
All my best,