I recently returned to work from parental leave after adding a healthy and happy baby to our now family of four. My parental leave included a multitude of experiences, ranging from the tranquility of morning stroller walks to the inevitable sleepless nights, and from supporting our toddler in adapting to the arrival of the new baby to the constant rhythm of diaper changes. This period also included the adventure of a 6-state road trip, bringing forth a spectrum of emotions including joy, love, frustration, overwhelm, and sheer exhaustion.
As my family and I enter this new phase of our lives, we are navigating unfamiliar, and at times, choppy waters. Amidst the shifts, trials, and uncertainties that accompany change, I have consistently sought solace and steadiness in a mindset grounded in gratitude. In order to ensure that thankfulness has staying power, regardless of what life has in store, consider applying one of these three strategies to lead and live with a gratitude mindset.
Strategy #1: Stop and smell the roses
Life can be so busy, and educators are often laser focused on continuous improvement and solving the next problem that we can lose sight of all the incredible things happening around us.
Consider ways to observe the good things happening around you in real time. Can you play a listener/observer role in a meeting or inside your building, taking five minutes to note all of the strengths, wins, and positive things you see?
To go a step further, can you share these positive noticings as affirmations with your team or create time and space for folks to conduct their own gratitude observation?
Strategy #2: You Don’t Have To, You Get To!
Peloton instructor, sports broadcaster, former teacher, and overall motivator, Jess Sims, emphasizes the philosophy of "You don't have to, you get to." Apply the "You Get To" mindset to your tasks this week, reframing items on your plate as opportunities rather than obligations.For instance:
Avoiding having a difficult conversation? Reframe your mindset. You don’t have to, you get to hold space for a conversation where everyone can listen, learn, and continue to grow toward becoming their best selves.
Struggling with communicating another big update? You don’t have to, you get to share information in a way that sets people up for success and connects them to shared values and goals.
Strategy #3: Seek and spread gratitude
Elevate the prevalence of gratitude within yourself and your teams by transforming it into a widely discussed subject. Contemplate employing these strategies:
Share three things you love (about a project, your role, your team, your school, etc.) and invite others to do the same. This could be as simple as a check-in question for a meeting, a brief hallway conversation, or an open call to students and families to discuss at home.
Initiate communication with individuals whom your team supports or collaborates closely with, inquiring about their positive sentiments regarding each team member or the team collectively. Share these appreciative remarks with your team and establish connections between these reflections and their overarching potential, goals, or impact.
In applying these strategies to my current life phase, I am bursting with gratitude that I get to experience even the hardest of days in this special, messy, and challenging phase of life with my loving family. I thoroughly appreciate working with incredibly smart, compassionate, and hard working people. And I am inspired by having a job that impacts schools, students, and communities. I have so very much to be thankful for.
From all of us at Education Elements, have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
About Maggie Hodge
Maggie Hodge is the Director of Consulting Services, and was previously a Senior Design Principal at Education Elements supporting schools and districts around the country in strategic planning and responsive leadership development. She began her career in education as a Kindergarten teacher in New Orleans public schools, and has also served as an RTI Coordinator, School Leader, and District Level Leader in traditional public schools and charter schools in San Francisco, New Orleans, and Austin. In her spare time Maggie can be found spending time with her husband and two children, traveling, or enjoying all that her home of Austin, TX has to offer.