The Power of Courage, Compassion, and Connection in Our Teaching Practice
As educators, there are certain attitudes, core values, and character traits that we try to entrench within the young people that we teach in hopes to provide them with the social tools necessary to succeed in building healthy relationships as they grow older. It’s not only about building positive relationships, but equally important is getting our students to dig deep to understand their own mindset and to evaluate things that may get in the way of them achieving success in their overall school experience. We take every opportunity possible to stress the importance of having a growth mindset and getting our students to believe in themselves. And that failure and mistakes are a natural part of their learning journey that need to be embraced and used as a springboard to further growth in the areas that they are striving to improve upon.
My point is that there is no doubt that we say and do all of the right things when it comes to empowering our students to take initiative to be the best that they can be. Without question our hearts are in the right place when it comes to fulfilling our responsibilities as an educator. However, in being our best selves, how often do we overlook the importance of our own well-being?
In Brene Brown’s best selling book, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’, she delves deeply into the concept of ‘shame’ and shares years of research that she has done on the topic. Shame is an emotion that we all experience and even though we may not be able to place our finger on the emotion itself when we are in the midst of a shame crisis, it can linger within us, manifesting itself in different ways in our lives. It usually involves judging or being judged, feelings of isolation, and thoughts that we simply do not or cannot measure up to those around us. Through her years of work, Brene Brown concludes that it is imperative to understand that we are not defective or alone in our experiences and realizing this is the first step towards developing ‘shame resilience’ which is the ability to address shame in a healthy way.
Brown also emphasizes that three factors play a critically important role in helping to truly find our authentic selves; Courage, Compassion, and Connection. It is my belief that regardless of if we are a first year struggling teaching who is working hard to find their feet or an experienced veteran who has loads of confidence in themselves as an educator, it is imperative to not lose sight of just how important the concepts of Courage, Compassion, and Connection play in helping us to be the best that we can be.
The concepts of Courage, Compassion, and Connection revealing themselves in our teaching can take on many different forms and levels depending upon who we are and our own experiences in life. I’ve always felt that finding inspiration to stay motivated is critically important to our long-term well being and effectiveness as an educator. There are no two teachers alike, so what motivates one may not motivate another.
I’ve spoken to and received emails from some teachers saying that they’ve had it pretty good in life. That they came from a loving family with hugely supportive parents. That they never really experienced any hardship in their lives and had a rewarding experience as a student themselves when they went through their schooling years. These teachers have said to me that they have no problem staying motivated and don’t necessarily need to seek out inspiration to be at their best.
These teachers should indeed consider themselves very fortunate and lucky to have had such a wonderful support network and rewarding experience as a student. However, I caution these teachers to be very careful and to reflect on their own attitudes about learning and ways of teaching. Because these richly rewarding experiences had come to them with relative ease and without struggle or hardship, it can be easy to slip into a biased way of thinking when it comes to the way others learn and cope with adversity. I’m not implying that these teachers don’t care or are not good at what they do. Many of them are excellent educators. However, I want to stress that it is imperative to think about and reflect on the attitudes that we have about learning based upon the way we learned ourselves throughout our schooling years.
The Power of Courage, Compassion, and Connection
No matter how good of an educator we think we are, the powerful concepts of courage, compassion, and connection apply to each and everyone of us. By looking at what these concepts mean in our own lives as educators, there are specific things that we can do that will immediately impact our own teaching practice and to better those around us as well. I hope you will take the time to look at the list that I created below of 15 different ways to bring courage, compassion, and connection more alive in your teaching practice. What things on the list are you already putting into practice in your teaching? What things might you do better? What things would you struggle with the most? Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.