I’ve recently started following the work of professor and researcher, Brene Brown. This week I read her post Doubling Down on Love and it gave me hope. I too have been feeling a bit down, a bit frustrated, a bit disheartened with all that is going on in the world around me. I am feeling this way about the political situation we find ourselves in, the social problems that surround us, and even in my work as an elementary literacy coach. This dissatisfaction and disappointment have made me tired and feeling unusually negative about my work. I’m usually the eternal optimist. That part of me has been struggling lately.
I’ve been questioning my impact at both the building and district levels. Is my work really making a difference for all learners? Is our literacy work taking hold at increasingly higher levels (Are we moving from good to great?)? Are children who are striving to become stronger readers and writers moving forward fast enough? Are the thriving readers and writers being challenged to continue to grow? Are we all reading professionally and having hard conversations about our work? Are we reading and recommending books to each other and to our students? Are teachers and students finding joy? Are teachers and students engaged? Are teachers and students taking on this work because they believe in it, or is it a matter of compliance? These are the questions that matter to me. These are the questions that keep me up at night.
So when I read about the Love Ethic (from the work of bell hooks) in Brown’s post, it resonated with me and gave me hope. According to hooks, “Individuals who choose to love can and do alter our lives in ways that honor the primacy of a love ethic. We do this by choosing to work with individuals we admire and respect; by committing to give our all to relationships; by embracing a global vision wherein we see our lives and our fate as intimately connected to those of everyone else on the planet. Commitment to a love ethic transforms our lives by offering us a different set of values to live by. In large and small ways, we make choices based on a belief that honesty, openness, and personal integrity need to be expressed in public and private decisions.”
I’m working to embrace some of these ideas and make a commitment to a love ethic – a different set of values to live by. I’m going to set some goals for the rest of this school year.
- I need to make more time to rest, reflect, and create.
- When things get hard, I need to spend more time with my family and friends.
- (This one I’m lifting right from Brene Brown. I just love it the way it is!) I want to co-create a love ethic in our organization and in our communities – an ethic that informs how we show up with each other, serve the work, and cultivate belonging. Lovelessness corrodes organizational culture. We need love wherever there are humans – that means at work too.
- (OK….stealing this one too.) I’m going to live into my values and stand up for what I believe in from a place of love. And I’m not talking about rainbow and unicorn love. I’m talking about learning how to stay fueled by a gritty, dangerous, wild-eyed, radical, change-the-world kinda love when disdain, judgment, and contempt are so much easier and when fear is seducing me into staying quiet.
I’m so glad I’ve found Brene Brown. I’ve been searching for some inspirational leadership, and she is proving to be pretty powerful.