Supporting the Student through Crisis
Dear Middle and Upper School Parents,
We believe that in-person learning is the most effective and that the remote approach to learning is not ideal. However, our desire is to support each family in the way they believe best supports their children which is why we are offering both learning approaches. While some of our students have taken to screen school with aplomb and even a greater degree of confidence, others have reported that it is stressful and tiring to be on computers all day long—and that meeting their friends only virtually makes them feel their isolation more acutely. Let’s talk about the social-emotional wellbeing of our students. The stress and anxiety that adults experience are felt even more intensely by our adolescents, though they may express their feelings in ways that are hard to interpret and even downright exasperating.
As adults, we need to help our students/children reframe these challenging times in a way that is realistic, recognizes the grief and loss they are experiencing—but gives them hope for the future.
Last spring, in acknowledgment of the challenge and of the emotional toll this isolation is taking, I sent links to websites outlining the Hero’s Journey as a paradigm for channeling the highs and lows of this unprecedented time into a storyline that might help transform and redeem the experience. I even included a diagram that illustrated the stages of that journey for young people.
Shortly after I sent the mail to parents and staff, I received a reply from Ed Hipp, long-time friend of the school and golf coach extraordinaire. He gave me permission to quote him here, as I believe his poetic commentary will help all of us understand that, while we did not choose the circumstances, the journey itself is a choice:
I was a wee bit surprised to see the second beat in the journey left out of the diagram: the refusal of the call.
Not a big deal …
But distinguishing the refusal of the call can help us understand a lot of our behavior and reactions,
Especially in journeys like the current one in which most folks have an emotional resistance to the adventure because they don’t feel that they chose it …
But instead, they feel to be victims in it.
Also, it might help some folks use the journey in understanding their own process …
To know that sometimes the journey is not as linear an experience as the diagram might be taken to indicate.
The journey often wanders a bit, going backward and forwards, two steps forward and one step back.
… just a couple of whimsical offerings from the peanut gallery.
Blessings, Ed Hipp
These are profound insights indeed, and I want to thank Ed for sharing them.
On a more whimsical note, I recently came across this particular version of the journey, adapted for our circumstances, and shared by the creative writing department at MIU. You can substitute your own essential item if you are not a coffee drinker:
Apologies to Ed, since even this model leaves out the right of refusal—but we must find humor where we can.
But in all seriousness, we continue to be aware of how challenging our students (and you) are finding this form of learning—and it’s no walk in the park for our teachers either. We are finding ways to switch it up through “flipped classrooms” and by using features like break-out rooms and to connect with students individually through “office hours,” even when those hours come in the evening for students who have returned to their homes in China or Korea, where time differences mean many of their most important classes happen in the middle of the night.
Stay healthy and heroic!
Kaye Jacob, Academic Director
Follow Us on Social Media:
804 Dr Robert Keith Wallace Dr.
Fairfield, IA, 52556
Tel: (641) 472-9400
Toll Free: (866) 472-6723