Educators recognize every day that students and families are looking for something more – they want hope in the present and for the future. Truthfully, this includes teachers and leaders as well. The greatest and longest lasting action for schools is to inspire hope – that’s easy to say but hard to do.
What does hope mean? Let me illustrate through an example. Imagine yourself driving through a powerful storm – a downpour. The reason you can endure that storm and stay safely on the road is due to a feeling that you know deep down it will not last forever. You simply need to drive until either the storm subsides and there’s light up ahead, or you find a roadside shelter where you can pull off to rest. That is hope. It is a deep-rooted and internal understanding that leads to a dedicated, external action.
Hope is not just a feeling. Having hope can positively impact a student’s academic results. If teachers, leaders, and students have hope, then research shows they are more likely to achieve their goals. Why? Hope helps them see what is not seen. Hope is an oasis in the storm. Hope gives them endurance to persevere. Hope offers purpose beyond the current moment.
You may be asking; how do I specifically build hope in my school? Here are a few ideas that you can use:
1. Recognize and teach that everyone is capable of so much more – everyone in the school community needs to hear that spoken and see it lived.
2. Ask what we need to adjust – this is the hard part because it requires a truthful look at your school and classroom cultures. Be honest here as this is the pathway forward.
3. Create plans to make it happen – break these down between individual classroom and school-wide ideas so that everyone is involved.
4. Sustain your personal hope as it is your “living how” – we, within the school community, need to exhibit self-care. We spend so much time pouring into others that we fail to pour into ourselves. Make sure that you feed your own hope through time away and activities that nourish your soul.
In closing, let me personally speak to all teachers and leaders here. Never forget that relational wounds require relational healing. That healing begins when a community of individuals provide support, develop trust, and inspire hope. If we build relationships both inside and outside of our classrooms that includes every student we meet, then we become the beacons of light for those students, their family, and the community within which they reside.
This aspect of inspiring hope for the present and future is not just an opportunity – it’s our responsibility. Our actions can be as simple as a kind word or a listening ear, and that creates light for others so that they know they are not alone.
This is a big task, but if we capture this vision, we can make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.