By William Chatfield, CFD, Board President, Director of Operations, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools
I write this as the anticipation and anxiety of presiding over the first ever virtual MSBO Annual Conference looms large and so many folks are working tirelessly to ensure it is the best possible conference and experience. Registrations, exhibit booths, and breakout sessions are exceeding expectations and the desire to get things right is putting a great deal of pressure on everybody. I’m admittedly nervous about conducting a live general membership meeting, broadcast to over twelve hundred participants across the state, in a format we’ve never used. But as I watch everybody slowly figure out how to overcome one obstacle after another, I’m like “hey, we got this.” Sure, there’s bound to be some glitches and we’ll certainly learn some lessons but I’m really looking forward to it. If everybody could observe the strategic and professional approach the staff and consultants are taking, you’d understand why I’m confident it’s going to be great.
In the meantime, those of us working in districts feel like a ping pong ball, dealing with plans to open school, close school, pause school or continue virtual school. All of this in the face of last minute financial incentives to offer in person instruction only to be urged to pause the in-person instruction a short time later. Struggles with staffing and confirmed cases are forcing some districts to suspend services or even pause in person instruction. Some are considering an extended summer school to recapture the “lost learning” of the past year. All of this while our elected officials continue to bicker over the release of federal funds that we could really use to help solidify our plans. While these are all formidable challenges, the promise of additional funding through the ESSER and GEER programs promise to provide funding solutions that could create safer learning environments which could be extremely valuable. When I look at the challenges we’ve all overcome during the past year compared to the challenges and opportunities facing us moving forward, it’s easy for me to say “we got this.”
We all experience challenges in our lives, particularly in the past year. We don’t ask for those challenges but we know they will throw a wrench into our plans regardless. These challenges bring a wave of emotions that can serve as anxiety filled obstacles or much-needed motivators. It’s not those challenges that will shape us or form our experience – rather it’s our reaction to those challenges. We observe or experience scenarios each day that force us to choose a reaction. It could be something as simple as some jackwagon cutting you off in traffic on the way to work. Do you honk your horn, flail your arms, or offer a one finger salute? Or do you take a deep breath and refuse to let this fool’s actions dictate your reaction and hence, your attitude? Recognize if that fool’s actions cause you to react in a manner that’s undesirable or inconsistent with your values, they have, in some small way, taken control of your emotions. Don’t let others control your emotions.
So, remember, the next time your boss, co-worker or family member throws a challenging scenario your way, your reaction to that scenario will determine its outcome. Step back, think it through and just say “we got this.”