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Quick Tips for THRIVING in Challenging Times

Imagine how it would feel to thrive in your life.

Consistently. Day in. Day out. Year after year.

According to the online dictionary, the word thrive is defined as “to grow or develop vigorously.” Synonyms include flourish, bloom, prosper, shine, and succeed.

Thriving is also a desire to be your best self, feeling self-fulfilled, having gratifying life experiences, and realizing your full potential. 

On social media and in many education circles, teachers are talking a great deal about “surviving.” The consensus is that this school year is harder than the past two put together. Teachers are burnt out and needing respite from teaching during a pandemic.

In many cases, students are in survival mode, too. They’re recovering from education disruptions, learning gaps, and a decline in mental health. While it’s often assumed that children naturally thrive, that’s only true if they are provided with the right opportunities and a stable environment in which to do so.

The problem with surviving vs thriving over a long period of time is how it impacts our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Surviving = existing

THRIVING = FLOURISHING 

This begs the question, how can teachers and students shift from surviving to thriving in the school environment? While this is not a simple answer or quick fix, the following tips are meant to provide ideas to move towards feeling joyful, creative, and inspired. 

 

STUDENTS

See your students as powerful changemakers who are resilient and capable. Develop their wholeness. When given the opportunity to see the world from a place of opportunity and possibility, students tend to get excited and creative. Allow students to show you who they are, what they know, and what they want to learn. Let them be your guide.

  • Choose experiential, hands-on, and arts-based experiences that support inquiry-based learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, decision making, creativity, and imagination.  
  • Explore the concept of resilience: what it means and how to become resilient. Discover the ways students are already resilient by having them think of how to work through challenges and overcome obstacles. Remind them that every new experience is an opportunity to learn and develop greater resilience.

Ask students on a regular basis how they feel and what they need to thrive. This may include an in depth inquiry into their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs. Have them talk about what they need to feel their best and ways they can get their needs met. Provide as many opportunities as possible for students to share their feelings and experiences.

  • Allow students various opportunities to explore their feelings through journaling, the arts (e.g., drawing, movement), and storytelling (oral or written). 
  • Introduce sharing circles or peer support for students to connect with others. 
  • Take students outside on a regular basis to be in nature so they can experience the awe and wonder of the world around them. 

TEACHERS

Spend time setting intentions for how you want to feel in your day. Reflect on what deeply matters to you. This includes your values and what gives you meaning and purpose. Set intentions that align with those aspects of your life in order to bring you closer to your needs and desires.

  • Spend a few minutes each morning writing down your intentions for the day. Writing them down helps to reinforce them. 
  • Revisit your intentions by reflecting on how they make you feel. Share them with a friend, family member or colleague.

Surround yourself with people who will support your desire to thrive. Carve out time to connect with people who ask how you are, listen when you speak, are excited for your accomplishments, and want the best for you.

  • Find a walking buddy so that you are able to move your body and connect at the same time. Walking and talking is powerful, as it increases blood to the brain, supports feelings of peace and joy, and it gets you out in nature, which is excellent for mental health and well-being. 
  • Create a support group of like-minded individuals who want to explore the concept of thriving. This could be a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly get together (in person or online) that is casual or theme based. It creates camaraderie and a sense of belonging.

 

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Traci L. Scheepstra, Ph.D., is the CEO/Founder of Embodied Learnings. Read here to learn more about her work in education.

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