Last weekend was unexpected in terms of weather. We all became witnesses of “Medusa” a weather phenomenon which only rarely appears in countries such as Greece. It came after a series of heatwaves and brought along heavy rains, strong winds and surprisingly low temperatures.
During that weekend most of us felt that the weather was impossible – we couldn’t enjoy our time off and the idea of going to the beach only made us snuggle deeper under our blankets. As with all storms in life it strengthened our conviction that it would last forever – after all, it did seem like a breath of winter in our summer lives. Although we knew that the promise of good weather was just around the corner at that time it seemed highly unlikely that the weather would change again.
It was/is a feeling tied to the impossibility of escaping from a present challenge and one that we have all experienced as learners or seen in our learners. It’s usually the moment just before a new part of the learning journey unfolds when everything seems confusing and overwhelming. It’s the moment when stress creeps in and takes over our control.
Although we’ve all seen moments like these in our classroom it’s interesting to realize that for many teachers the way of reacting to these moments is indicative of their broader attitude to life. Our often unconscious interpretation of obstacles impacts the culture we build in our classrooms as well as the life priorities we have set for ourselves in the first place.
Cultivating a culture of hope allows our students to see storms for what they really are: inevitable parts of life. They come without notice and -often- leave before long. What matters is who we are when entering them and what we can learn through them. This idea can be promoted by involving students’ feelings in the learning process. Using activities that help students tap into their feelings and learn how to recognize them and express them makes them more understanding of how they react to change. Also, having short class discussions now and then on how students feel after a period of classes or before important steps in their learning (exams, graduation etc) allows them to see challenges as part of life.
Creating a culture of hope is not the same as setting the foundations for moving on. It’s the first necessary step in doing so, but moving on is not the same as waiting for the storm to pass. In the first case we show patience, but in order for us to keep moving we need to take action. Moving from patience to action implies that our students realize they can’t control what lies ahead. Overcoming the fear of what the next part of the journey might involve and embracing the unfamiliar is the only way to truly make the most of all learning experiences in life.
So next time a storm comes our way let’s welcome it as another chapter of our life’s journey.