Courage in the Face of Uncertainty
For some of us, school is just beginning. For others, we have been back at school for over a month. For all, we must agree that this academic year is already not what we had expected. We are staring down another surge of COVID. The uncertainty can be tough to deal with. Especially for our students. Tensions are high, and yet life goes on.
Ours is not the only period of uncertainty humanity has faced. Consider the brave souls who soldiered on through World War I and World War II. An uncanny reference, you may say. But the slightly longer than thirty year period between the beginning of the first war to the end of the second (1914-1945) was another time period in history when nations around the world were united against a common enemy. This is when the Greatest Generation was born. They found within themselves the stamina and determination to trudge forward. Thanks to their heroic efforts, we are here today. And even though we are embroiled in nearly two years of a war on a virus called COVID-19, there is no reason to cast blame on any group or nation for what we have been experiencing. Our enemy is not a person or a country (or each other); our enemy is fear.
This, my friends, is the time for Courage. Courage is standing up for what is right; facing our fears.
What does Courage look like?
Courage looks like waking up each morning, doing your exercises, fixing breakfast for your children, heading to work, and greeting your students with kindness.
Courage looks like teaching to the needs of your students who have lost precious learning time and speaking words of life to them: “You can do it! I believe in you!”
Courage looks like taking a walk in the evening, listening to the soothing sound of the cicadas, and watching the yellowing leaves fall to the ground.
Courage is accepting that in spite of uncertainty, loss, and grief… life goes on.
For those of us with air in our lungs, our sacred task is to live life to the fullest by smiling brighter, praying harder, singing louder, laughing heartier. These moments of gratitude empower and embolden us. We do not need to give in to fear because although life is hard… and it is hard right now, life is still good.
So today, take a deep breath. Breathe again… and again… until you feel yourself dropping your shoulders away from your ears, relaxing your belly, and settling yourself into the present. Be here.
I know what I am asking is simple yet not easy. But you can do it. I believe in you.
Tips for Leading Students through Uncertain Times
1. Listen – Acknowledge the challenges we are facing in our world, such as COVID, racism, climate change, and more. Ask students to share their thoughts and feelings about current events.
2. Foster – Throughout the ages, humankind has processed big emotions through the arts. Provide time, space, and supplies for your students to express themselves creatively. Encourage them to draw, paint, dance, write, sculpt, and more.
3. Celebrate – Even though times are tough, beauty is all around. Take a nature walk with your class and ask them to inventory the sights, sounds, and touches they experience. End each day by asking students to share gratitude for the kindness of one of their classmates. Play games and laugh as a class family.
4. Reassure – Most of all, let your students know that they are not alone in this big world. We are in this together.
Take heart, my friends. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, it’s also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
About the author
Tamara Fyke is an educator and social entrepreneur with a passion for kids, families, and urban communities. She is the creator and author of Love In A Big World, which provides mental health, SEL, and wellness curriculum and content. During quarantine, Tamara created MusiCity Kids, an online educational show for kids ages 6-12 that addresses health, movement, character development, STEAM, and more.