Sprained Ankles and Complicated Semesters

Well, my Monday didn’t go as planned, how about yours? Based on the news stories at least some of you had Zoom failures or mistakes with whatever platform the local school district is using. Unfortunately, the disruption of my day was my own fault. I was enjoying the slightly cooler¬†temperature on my morning walk and had stopped to look at the deer across the street. I took a picture that I think is beautiful and started walking again while admiring the picture on my phone. You can probably guess where this is going. My neighborhood sidewalks are pretty but not perfect and I rolled my ankle and ended up on the ground. Scabbed knees and a sprained ankle changed my morning.

Luckily, Peter could come get me since I was a mile from the house and my desk chair is a fine make-shift wheelchair – at least on the tile so I’m in pretty good shape. But it got me thinking about making mistakes and things that don’t go as planned. Both, of course, are part of life and certainly part of even a routine start to the school year and I spend some time thinking about our responses to such situations.

First, is the outward-facing response. How do we fix the problem? Who do we need to contact? What needs to happen next? And perhaps most difficult to do well, how do we acknowledge the problem, apologize, or make amends. Yesterday, Zoom had connectivity issues in many parts of the country as did other third-party providers as schools and colleges across the country began this experiment in instructional engagement and delivery. I have a Zoom subscription and an apology landed in my inbox at 11:42 p.m. This morning, I read an article lauding this email as an exemplar of high emotional intelligence. For those of you who haven’t seen it there’s a link below. It was clear, simple, empathic, the author owned the responsibility for the problems and committed to doing better.

The second response is inward and I think it’s about resilience. I know most people are coming into this fall already tired. We worry, and talk a lot, about the resilience of our students, but it seems to me that the resilience of ourselves and our colleagues should be front and center right now. What do you need to do to be able to stay the course this semester as mistakes happen and things don’t go as planned? What can you do to build your own resilience and support that of others? Below are some links to help you if you are finding your tried and true methods are falling short right now.

As for me and my bum ankle, I’m going to have to find something that replaces my walk each morning for a while. I’m not sure what that is yet, but I’ll figure it out. In the same way, I suspect you don’t have all the answers to the questions you are facing right now, but I have no doubt you’ll figure it out. Best of luck to everyone as you start the new year!

Take care,


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