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Feeling hopeless? Talk about it.


May 12, 2021 Jason Schilling, ATA President


Leadership is multifaceted, with many nuances. With every success there are failures. 

Over the last few weeks, I have attended several ATA events. There has been an obvious recurring theme at each … COVID. This year has been tough, stressful and relentless. It seems like there is just one crisis after another, and it feels exhausting mostly because it is exhausting. We are all suffering from COVID fatigue as it has altered dramatically our professional and personal lives. This is not the way we expected to be teaching, working or living.

Another theme that came up at these events surprised me at first, but really stuck with me. Several teachers asked questions about hope. How do we remain hopeful after so many months of living in crisis? It’s a great question … timely and profound. Though I am fairly pragmatic by nature, I found myself reflecting a lot on the idea of hope.

Asking how one can remain hopeful in uncertain times gives us the opportunity to learn from crises while also allowing ourselves to examine what we value and believe in. I wrote about hope in my master’s project. In my final paper was a reflection on hope by Margaret Wheatley. According to Wheatley, hope “is the essence of being human” and “we as humans can get through anything as long as we’re together...we are consoled and strengthened by being together.” In reading more about hope, I came across Amie Filkow’s excellent article from New Trail magazine where she notes that “hope is rooted in connection, that we take hope for granted, or even dismiss it” but that is exactly when we should be talking about it. 

What does it mean to have hope? This is a complex question to pose in our complex world, and I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that when feeling hopeless, I do exactly what Wheatley and Filkow suggest: I reach out and talk about it because that’s exactly what we need to be doing. It’s through our connections with each other that we remain hopeful. We learn this from our experiences in school — our students, our friends and families give us hope and that’s why we keep fighting for what we believe in. ❚

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