As I write this, I am reeling from yet another blow that "2020" has landed. This time, it was an indirect blow (instead of the punch to gut that was my grandmother's death late this summer). No, this time it was the untimely and unexpected passing of a dear friend's husband. Without going into the details (and to preserve her privacy), I will just say that this has been yet another event that has caused me to scream (internally, mostly) about the injustice of life and beg the question: "What is going on this year?!"
I have always know that "life is not fair." This year seems worse in so many ways than most. COVID, the economy, schools closing, the election fiasco (no matter if you are red or blue), and the list can go on and on and on. Yet, with the tragedies piling on and the end of home-schooling not in sight, I have some thoughts on gratitude. Does gratitude really "change things?" Can having a grateful mindset really help in these dark times? My answer is unqualified and certainly my own.
I say yes...gratitude may help. Our situations may not change, but perhaps we can find some happiness in the midst of the madness? There is research on this from various sources (see this article by Harvard Health Publishing) that say that gratitude not only can change your mindset, but also affect your overall mental health.
What about the challenges we face in education? How can we find gratitude when the educational world has been turn on its head? Teachers are working harder and longer hours than ever (if that is possible) and being asked to engage learners in ways that many have never fathomed. I was speaking to a friend that is an educator last night. She said that is wasn't the online platform that she despised, or the long hours. It was that she misses seeing her students, but also being able to help them in real-time. The creativity, the joy of teaching for her was the real-time problem solving to help her students. We commiserated for awhile on how much this loss means to us as teachers. However, when I asked her about what she was grateful for during online learning, her list never stopped! She expressed so much gratitude to be able to work from home and help her son with special needs, as well as her ability to learn new EdTech tools to help with instruction.
Once our conversation turned to gratitude, the tone and the feelings changed entirely. We chatted away about all of the good things that were happening for our families "in the time of COVID," and we spent the next half hour happily chatting away. While could have just as easily gone down the dark, deep hole of misery and commiseration (and sometimes there is a need and place for that, too!), I am so grateful that we didn't. (See what I did there?!) Seriously, maybe we need to express gratitude not only for own sake, but also for others?
I have no idea what will come next. I don't know what will happen next for education, for our health, even for our country. My goal is to practice gratitude. I am going to list three "things" that I am grateful for each day. I don't think that the list has to be earth-shaking or even all of the big things in our lives. My "grateful three" today: I am grateful for my family, this computer that I am writing on, and my tangerine flavored sparkling water. What are your "grateful three?"