Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.
I have been sitting on Hope and holding this value back until we really needed it. It was an obvious one to explore at the start of #Lockdown but I intentionally kept it in our reserves to focus on when we needed to reenergise and bring some positivity to the situation. Hope was one of my guiding values as a new Headteacher, I was hopeful about the changes we wanted to bring to our values-based school, I was hopeful of the disruptions we wanted to implement to the “we have always done it this way” system, I was hopeful that we were intentionally proactive, preemptive and preventative about mental health and wellbeing. I am hopeful our community have been using their toolkit of mindfulness to help them in the last few weeks.
It’s been a long two months and at times our flames of hope in the darkness have dwindled, flickering in the breeze. Our hope has been fragile.
Thursday 19th March was when the Lockdown announcement was made, I can remember it clearly as it was a few days before my 41st birthday. My friend Annemarie and I met for a socially distanced walk and picnic halfway between Oxford and Leicester that weekend. We processed our emotional reaction to the situation by walking and talking. We discussed the seemingly hopeless situation.
Fast forward (or should that be slowly drag!) 2 months…
Monday 18th May marks our 9th week of being housebound. This weekend I met my friend Aoife for a socially distanced walk in Oxford, she works at the university and we walked around the stunning grounds at Magdalence College. I have been craving human connection, and although it was hard to not hug her, it was the most normal I have felt in a very long time as I drove in, parked and greeted her. We lay on the beautifully manicured grass and were hopeful about future plans.
Nine weeks of working remotely has been very hard. Nine weeks of respecting social distancing has been really difficult. I can count on one hand how many people I have seen in that extended period of time. I have consciously kept myself buoyant, I have sought out those people to interact with who are positive, optimistic and hopeful, I have challenged negative rhetoric that I have not needed to hear. I have had a few lows where things have seem hopeless, but on the whole I have kept my spirits up. Filling my car up with the diesel for the first time in 2 months yesterday seemed like a monumental feat, it brought a sense of hope that things were changing.
I challenged my peer support circle yesterday to do a #RainbowWalk, and notice the colour and vibrancy around them. I felt a shift in me as I noticed the beauty of nature on our walk.
So what are my hopes for the future?
We need to do better, we need to be better. As humans we need to learn from the world events and circumstances we have recently experienced. Humanity needs to respond to the universe’s message. Humanity needs maintain a sense of hope that we will get through this, that we will beat it, we will create order and a sense of equilibrium once again.
Everything that is done in this world, is done by hope.
Martin Luther King
Our state of mind frames how we feel which shapes how we behave. Our confidence about our future success will set the tone for the next few weeks, the next few months. We need to remain optimistic and keep our spirits high, we need to uplift one another, not attempt to break each other down.
Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.
We need to practise being positive. It is a muscle we need to exercise, consciously. We need to make positivity present and negativity absent. We need to reframe what we think, what we think, what we say and what we do. We need to model the positivity we need to hear and receive from others. We need to shield ourselves from the negativity that brings us down.
Hope is seeing light, despite being surrounded by darkness.
We are expectant. We have been waiting. Those 9 weeks have felt like 9 months at times. Time has moved slowly. Change has happened rapidly. We have a strong sense of the realities of lockdown being lifted and of the pressures of schools being reopened. We await further changes, additional updates, as we navigate and assimilate the information. We are expectant of further change. We are resolved to the fact that there could be another spike, we could be wasting our time, energy and resources.
Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.
As I reflected on expectation it made me think about CollectivED. I am delighted that I have recently been made a Fellow and I have been invited to become an Associate for The Centre for Mentoring, Coaching & Professional Learning. The summer Knowledge Exchange, organised by Professor Rachel Lofthouse, was planned for June 23rd, but has now been deferred to November.
In its place my #WomenEd friend Charmaine Roche is hosting a CollectivEd Virtual Symposium facilitated by members of the CollectivEd Advisory Board. The event is entitled: Can we be the midwives of our own future? A call to the education sector. This carefully worded frame is full of hope. So, I have just submitted my application to contribute my initial research for my MA focusing on what the education system can learn from our response to the pandemic about flexible working. I am hopeful that the business case against part-time teaching and job shares has imploded and that those requesting adjustments to their working hours and contact time in school will now have robust evidence that they can leverage from the last 2 months to justify this much needed change to working practices in our schools. I am hopeful that we will then challenge the Talent Management Crisis our school system has been facing for several years and bring about much needed change.
Charmaine read my blog and responded with a book to read and a quote from the author:
Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark