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How to Respond When Things Get HardJennifer Sullivan
This is the third in a 3-article series about staying motivated and productive during what we all hope is the final lap of remote pandemic learning. This is an ideal time for parents and students to think about how they will stay focused during this spring semester. Click to read Part 1, "Focus on Moving Ahead" and Part 2, "Focus on Connection and Engagement."
As the sun stays with us for just a minute or so longer each day, many of us are becoming impatient for spring. We know we need to wait, but it’s hard.
Students, too, are impatient. This spring semester means more remote learning, masks, distancing, hybrid and hyflex classes for some, and restricted activities. They know they need to wait, but it’s hard.
It’s difficult to reframe challenges as opportunities when we still face an uncertain future, but now is the time for us to help our students make that mind shift. We can help them determine how to use this time to prepare for their “post-pandemic” life — to focus forward and plan for the future.
Writer Simon Sinek describes a person's WHY as the “purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.” Sinek goes on to explain its importance in his own life. “Not only did discovering my WHY renew my passion, it gave me a filter to make better decisions.”
For many of us, finding our WHY may take a lifetime. Don’t expect your student to find and define their WHY right now but encourage them to begin the process. Our current socially distanced life may provide an ideal time for your student to envision the future they want when this is over.
We all want some basic things: the chance to gather with friends and family, to be back in the classroom, to go to restaurants, concerts, sporting and social events. Encourage your student to think beyond these basics and consider the bigger vision they have for their future. This can become like a compass (again, according to Simon Sinek) giving them a sense of where they are going.
Helping your student begin to find a sense of purpose can help them move from feeling stuck in this pandemic life to feeling productive and forward moving. They can rediscover what it's like to have momentum. They can work to become “future ready.”
Once your student begins to have a sense of where they want to go, it’s time to take steps to move closer to that future they’d like to have.
The specific actions your student chooses will depend on whether they are in their freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year, and it will depend on their ultimate goal.
You may need to help your student define some actionable steps and create their personal strategic plan. Here are a few suggestions to help you and your student get started.
Even if it is only one baby step at a time.
Remind them to keep their eye on the future, on where they want to be.
Remind them that the countless small decisions and actions they do every day can keep them moving forward.
Remind them that they will be stronger, and wiser, once this is over.
Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate who spoke so eloquently at the presidential inauguration, says in her poem, "The Miracle of Morning,"
Our holiday shopping list is full of awesome ideas that are on trend with what students desire this gift-giving season.