Optimism, Realism, and 15 Minutes

We thought we’d be back from an extended spring break in late March or early April.  Then spring break seemed to go on indefinitely as schools scrambled through May.  We thought most kids would be in classrooms by August, maybe September or October.  January for sure.  But here we are.  Schools are “open” but so many kids are still at home.  It’s necessary and for the best.  And yet…it’s hard not to be discouraged.

Sean Cain and Mike Laird (authors of The Reboot books, The Fundamental Five, and The Classroom Playbook) reminded us of the importance of maintaining hope and optimism during their first webinar in The Reboot Mini-Series (a series of FREE short webinars).  Yes, we must be optimistic and hopeful, they said.  But with a slight caveat: we must temper that optimism and positivity with an appropriate dose of realism.  Be happy and spread your good attitude—we all most certainly need it—but stay real.  It’s a tricky attitude best described as the Stockdale Paradox: the notion that one must balance optimism with realism in order to be successful in a truly dire situation.  To take that a step further—we can’t wait for things to get better, and a positive attitude alone isn’t going to put kids back in classrooms or backfill learning gaps.  We must be positive and remain hopeful—especially those of us who are leaders, educators, and parents—and spread that positivity around.  But we must be proactive to overcome the serious challenges and problems in front of us.

The great thing about Sean and Mike is that they don’t just tell you what to do or why you need to do it—they tell you explicitly how to do it.  For example, during our second webinar in The Reboot Mini-Series, Sean discussed an obvious problem: attendance during COVID and the high numbers of kids who have literally ghosted school.  He discussed the need to reframe current thinking about expectations and student needs, reminding us of the reality that many kids are living in and good old Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  He outlined goals for student attendance and engagement, emphasized the need to break from traditional models and practices, and made some truly radical and refreshing suggestions about robocalls, emails, and text alerts that I wish we could put on a billboard.  And he told us how to recapture the kids who are ghosting their classes.  Did I mention all this was covered in only 15 minutes?

It’s important to stay upbeat and maintain hope right now.  But it’s even better to look at this crisis, pick something to improve upon, and set out to do so.  The more we do now for kids, the better off they will be next school year when they really are all back in the classroom.  (We hope….)

To learn more about The Reboot Mini-Series, click here.

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