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Leaning into our humanness

Leaning into our humanness

By Jay Scheurle |

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is integral to Oak Meadow School. From toddlers through adolescents, students develop real-life SEL skills that help them to learn more about themselves, adopt a growth mindset, and form constructive relationships with others.

Earlier this month, I attended the annual conference of the American Montessori Society (AMS) which was held in Boston this year. Four thousand educators attended from around the globe. It was an exciting and rejuvenating experience.

The opening Keynote address was given by Susan David, author of the book, Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.

Here are a few comments she made (from my notes) which felt so relevant for us at Oak Meadow this school year:

“When emotions are denied or suppressed, they become stronger. Pushing aside emotions that are difficult makes us less happy. False positivity attempts to move us to a space prematurely…”

“Agility allows us to capture the values and wisdom that is already inside us. Each of us has this. Our emotions and fears are actually leading us to adapt. They allow us to grow and learn. Emotions help us calibrate to the world and to adapt.”

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. Be human. Be compassionate and curious. Focus on elevating your values… Start not with how you should feel. Start with how you do feel. Surface the values and character of the child. Jealousy can connect us to the value to improve. Hatred can connect us to the value of fairness and justice. Lean into your humanness.”

“Emotions are data. Emotions signpost our values. Courage is holding difficult emotions and moving forward with our values as our guide. It is a lifelong correspondence with our own heart.”

In reflecting on these ideas, I couldn’t help but think about all of the really difficult feelings and emotions we have had to process at Oak Meadow over the last two months. It made me proud of our teachers and staff, who created the space to allow themselves, and parents and students, to share how they are grieving with each other, and to always do this in ways that met individuals where they were at. We in the Oak Meadow community are leaning into our “humanness.” This wonderful community is built on a foundation of heart and soul. I have genuine hope that our school community will grow and learn from our experiences and become stronger than ever.