Be a Beacon

There are some wonderful writings about developing a growth mindset. The basic principle is that in moments of conflict or stress, we have two choices, a positive one or a negative one. We can give up, or we can pick up the challenge and move forward.

In the last 20+ months, the pandemic has been central in our lives. We have known fear, disbelief, social isolation, new routines, uncertainties, triumphs, and losses. In that time, we have been in all three seats of our car — the trunk in panic or avoidance mode, the back seat overwhelmed with emotion, and at the wheel driving somewhere (maybe not always the right destination). None of us here today has given up.

Boats need navigational assistance to get to their destinations. To avoid crashing into the rocky shores, we had lighthouses. Tall, imposing, and hard to miss, the beacons marked the coast. Those beacons told the crew the shore was close and so, in fact, were the rocks.

The values we use in our daily work need to serve as the light. As we clarify those values, we will be able to show others the course for the boat. When we act on those values, we show others the way we need to be together, the positive choice. Boats do not move in a straight line and the crew will meet other travelers and learn from their experience.

Consider this story: In December, I visited four of our Early Learning Centers. The teachers encountered the High Scope boat (the curriculum used in our centers). From that our crew learned approaches for engaging children, emancipating the talents of these children and creating a lively, exciting path to learning.

In one class, I saw a teacher, who was faced with a bunch of loud voices, lower her voice until all others became silent to hear what she had to say. In another class, I saw a teacher tell a story in two languages, engaging children to understand what was happening at story time with the llama missing his mama. The choice these teachers made was learning from the “other crew” aka the High Scope crew.

At first, you might hear of new things and think:

…that will never work.

…this is the way I have always done it. I admit I am not happy, but that is all I can expect.

…how can this really help?

But when these learned crews come our way, and the learning makes sense, we have hope and we have opportunity. When learning like that happens, several assessments can flash in our minds:

…why didn’t I think of that?

…wow, I wish I knew that last year.

…I’m so grateful…I’m so happy to have a new way to succeed!

Thank you, early education teaching staff for learning from the High Scope crew.

Learning also fuels the beacon. Learning is the oil in the lamp, the very lamp we need to chart our course and avoid as many rocks as possible…the light to keep our destination clear. So let’s be the light. Let’s grab the fuel and keep on course.