Achieving ‘Flow‘ means a lot to me. And I can admit that my mono-tasking, hyper focus on it’s pursuit, drives me to distraction at times.
I can’t help it. At nearly every turn I am aware of my movement in space, my thoughts in my mind, the distances and connections between tasks- as I move around my class, as type on my keyboard, as I colour or draw or write or talk or walk. Sometimes, I can even focus myself into distraction… weird I know. And all of these elements tend to track subconsciously, but when I bring them to attention I instinctively want to make their edges smoother, the transition between them seamless, the barriers invisible.
This frame of mind is not helped by the fact that I am a teacher … and a parent … to be completely honest.
I have had ridiculous debates with my 8 and 6-year-olds regarding efficient workflow. I ask them why they did not bring their dishes to the sink [as they walked past me mid-dishwashing], or why did they leave their clothes on the floor [instead of in the hamper], or even why they did not replace the toilet paper [before they sat down and called me up to get the roll that was sitting right on the counter across from them]. Sigh. I know that they do not have answers, and I know they are learning, but something in me does not cave to these thoughts. Something in me wants them to ‘flow’ too.
At the heart of my feng shui mindset lives the belief that when people know better, they can act better. And I hope, feel better too.
I also think that taking small steps to tweak little moments can bring about new thinking. As for my kids, they are slowly coming to their own rescue with the toilet paper. Most times they just leave spare rolls on the top of the tank- within easy reach. And, this is what I am talking about; a simple solution that works. And it works for everyone. And it removes barriers in their lives. My daughter told me once that I sounded like Kylo Ren trying to force-push-hypnotize them when we talked about differentiated solutions. I guess that is somewhat of a compliment and a great call-out because I was trying to get in their heads. The core message that I was vibing at them is that I value working more solutions not fewer. And if I have to drone on and use the dark side to do it, I will. The only line I draw in their blind pursuit of solutions is if it is dangerous.
I have noticed that this is a pensive process. Also, frustrating, confusing, and slow. But, it is the necessary front-ended grind work to make it to Flow state.
Now I get the fact that it is not my sole domain to make the world click with IKEA efficiency, but I have met enough people that simply did not consider, never knew, or thought it was possible to exist in this type of headspace. And the majority of these teachable moments occur in my ‘teacher-me’ life. I have sat at round-table discussions on the topic of student success and achievement, where the system gave the dogmatic impression that it knew what was best for the child and family in question. Often the language is needlessly and overly codified in edu-jargon and the conversation is time bound. Quick decisions, can create good feelings and outcomes. I prefer deliberate decisions that build understanding and neutral emotionality.
The reality is that, often, well-considered solutions can be stale. This applies in particular when the pitch has been prefabricated and assembled away from the meeting, without all member input. The humans in the room owe each other the time and focus on achieving a solution that has both truth and hope within it. So, it is critical that all parties bring their best assortment of ideas and all parties take their time. What’s possible in education is not set. Despite the hard truth of budgets, and expectations, and staffing, and engagement and a whole lot of other perceptual barriers, genuinely creative options for students’ success do exist.
What if..? What else..? And what now..? These three questions have become my dark arts defense against the narrow, the rushed, and the vague.
Staying in the moment, long enough to reveal other possibilities, can be a little ‘white knuck-ly’ especially when everyone else starts posturing from an ‘As-If’ viewpoint. But I assure you, really cool things happen in that space just beyond the playbook, in the ambiguous after-moment of what if, what else, and what now?
Right now, could you?
- Meet with either the Student Success Lead and/or the Subject Head of Guidance to hear their stories of positive, creative student based solution making. Be intentional and respectful in your curiosity this will honour their efforts behind the scenes.
- Bring these findings to your next department meeting and share the ‘WIn-Win’ frame of mind. By building your team tools on successful approaches you and your team can get to helping students faster.
- Post out to your actual or digital PLN, share your scenarios and challenges. Ask directly for resources, references, or even an opportunity to have direct conversation face to face. A broad support base will undoubtedly help your students succeed.