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Updated: 6 days ago

For anyone involved in education in North America, September is a new school year. This new year could mean new students, new parents, new colleagues, and sometimes it even means a new school, new classroom, or even a new curriculum.

It's always a fresh new start.

A new year - new students, new parents, new colleagues and more!

As a teacher, I love that it is a chance to correct my mistakes and try new things or even build new skills as an educator. In my personal life, I see it the same way. Sometimes this chance for a fresh start begins in January with a new year or maybe it's an anniversary - a chance to reflect on a relationship. Maybe it's a birthday - a chance to learn new skills to build physical or mental wellness. Or maybe it's just a new month or a new season or a new career.

I can correct my mistakes and try new things or build new skills

Either way, it's a choice. An opportunity to take time to reflect and to grow. Now some changes are hard, some habits are hard to break and even more so, some mindsets are difficult to reframe. I have found that skills help.

The skill of self-validation reminds me to be kind to myself and to use words of self-encouragement. Maybe I could say something like change is hard and I can do this. Radical acceptance is another helpful skill especially when the current situation is so painful and there seems little hope. I might need to remind myself to let it go; to focus on my growth through the journey; that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

The basic assumption skill of try again and try it differently is so helpful when I'm open to trying new things in a new way. I love the image of a protractor and that a five-degree angle when expanded out is a big change. It demonstrates that we don't have to be held back by the enormity of change, but instead can do a little at a time with expectation and hope that growth will come.

A final skill that I love is called do-overs or reset. Do-overs are a key skill. It's a chance to say I'm wrong and be okay to admit that. It's being willing to say that I want to try again because the person or the relationship or even the job is important enough to make it right. I might say that yesterday I wasn't my best self. Can we try that conversation again? It truly is starting fresh and letting go of history. A gift we can give to ourselves and others.

A gift we can give to ourselves and others.

A fresh start is a great way to approach the month of September and learning skills will help you do it well and that's a great idea too.

Why not check out our new workshops for the fall or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or X to learn more about fresh starts this September?

Check out our latest registration page for fall workshops.
It's going to be epic!!

I remember when I started saying, “It is what it is,” before learning skills. It seemed like a bit of a cop-out. It was like I was giving up. I would just put my hands in the air, shrug, and basically admit defeat.

And then I learned skills.

You need to understand that I learned skills in one of the deepest and darkest parts of my journey with my son. He had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and life with him at home was very difficult. The boy that I had imagined growing up to be this talented, caring young man struggled with bouts of paranoia and psychosis and was often very hard to live with.

I learned the concept of radical acceptance at my first skills training session. It didn't make sense to me. Was I supposed to accept that my son was someone I didn't recognize and be fine with it? It seemed wrong. It didn't compute.

Then the speaker shared some very simple concepts with me that struck my heart and my soul like a dagger and changed everything. They were:

I can have control.
I can't control everything.
When I control me, people around me can change.

It all had to start with me. If I could learn this skill of radical acceptance I would have the capacity to see my world in a much better light. So I gave it a try.

First, I needed to learn that radical acceptance isn't giving up or losing. I needed to recognize how much I was suffering when I was trying to control everything. That wasn’t difficult to do. I was suffering and it was affecting my job and my home!

The next thing I needed to learn was that radically accepting means I needed to fully accept reality as it is. This skill was something I could access when my emotions were really strong. Maybe I was angry at myself or at others or sad or guilt-ridden. Radical acceptance gave me the freedom to let go of bitterness and resentment.

What I was doing wasn't working. I needed a new path to walk on and radical acceptance was a firm and steady road.

So I tried it. I chose to radically accept my son's illness and our combined journey as a family. It wasn't an easy process, but what I noticed was that when I radically accepted him and us, I was able to shift the energy that I was putting towards controlling the situation into seeing everything in a fresh new light. I saw my son as someone struggling with an illness that was so difficult and painful for him and I learned to accept him as he was.

I learned to accept him as he was.

No judgement.

No character faults.

Just acceptance.

It was so freeing and our relationship improved immensely and both of us were much happier.

It didn’t take much to transfer this knowledge into my classroom. As a teacher, there was so much out of my control. It was so hard when things didn’t make sense from my perspective. It was easy to become resentful, angry, disillusioned, and even want to quit. Like any relationship, staying in a negative mindset is not effective. It was hard on me as a teacher and it was hard on my colleagues and my students. I found it difficult to separate opinions and feelings from facts. Radical acceptance helped me do that. It helped me recognize what is truly in my control and what I was willing and able to accept. It helped me access my wise mind and that came with a lot of practice.

Like validation, radical acceptance doesn't come easily. It's not the way I was raised and it definitely took intentionality and practice. I'm so glad I not only learned the skill but that I have practised it enough so that it comes more naturally to me every day.

The funny thing is, the saying that I used flippantly earlier, is radical acceptance.

It is what it is.

I just needed to learn how to say those words in a new way.

I hope that for all who listen to our teachings with SILA Skills, this becomes a part of their new reality too. We live in a world where there are a lot of angry and bitter people and it's hard to see hope when it's so dark. Radical acceptance is one skill that brings light in and pushes the darkness away.

We look forward to sharing more about this skill this month. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and X (still getting used to that!). Participate in the journey by asking questions and reflecting on how radical acceptance can help you too.

Radical acceptance can help you too
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For most of us who work in the field of education, July is a time of rest. Some of us enjoy the extra time to work with our hands in the warm soil that provides life to vegetables or flowers. Others enjoy reading a book and consuming a nice cold drink while we sit and relax in the sun. Some people will travel far to visit places that they have dreamed about all year long and others will settle in their comfy camper and enjoy visiting and laughing by the light of a fire while reconnecting with family and friends.

visiting and laughing by the light of the fire while reconnecting...

There are those outside of education who think summer vacation is the only reason we became teachers. They assume that we work only for that extra long break between the end of a school year and the start of a new one.

The fact is, while that time of rest and relaxation is definitely enjoyable, it is not the reason most of us became educators.

The fact is, we love teaching.

It's really as simple as that.

There is something magical that happens inside when a child makes that connection and you're the one who helped them get there. Whether they finally figured out what a fraction means or wrote their first poem. Maybe you were the one who truly listened when they were seeking just to be heard. Or maybe you were the one who finally made learning fun.

That's why most of us became teachers.

It doesn't take very long to follow different teacher groups on Instagram or Facebook and realize that while the love of being there for the kids is still present, the capacity to carry on year after year is waning. I do not know the stats for the number of teachers that have left the profession but I have spoken with more teachers than I have ever in my 32 years of teaching who wonder how long they can carry on.

The capacity to carry on year after year is waning.

So possibly, July is now a time of healing and a time of reconnection to their heart and soul. Maybe, it is a time of deep reflection and resolving to find a way through the challenges that they know aren't going away anytime soon.

A time of reflection, resolving, reconnection...

You've all heard the safety instruction when you go on an airplane - in an emergency, parents need to put the oxygen mask on themselves first.

That's what teachers need to do. Our students, colleagues and school communities all need us to take care of our mental health needs first.

Take care of our mental health needs first!

Over the past 5.5 years, I have been on a very arduous mental health journey. I lost my son to suicide, burdened alongside my family with thoughts of guilt, loss and pain. All the while, I watched as a worldwide pandemic turned all of our lives upside down and I struggled to find my way through it, along with everyone else.

During this time I was introduced to an important way to do just that. It is called validation.

Validation for colleagues and parents and students and self-validation for me.

This month my goal is to explore validation more for those of us who work in the education system. I want to share knowledge that I've gained and stories of personal experience with the hope that you will walk away with a clearer image of how validation can work for you.

I believe it will help to renew your heart and soul so you will have the capacity to love teaching once again.

During this month of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation I encourage you to do some exploring of new ways to restore yourself for the fall that is on its way far too quickly.

I wish you a wonderful summer break and I hope you will let SILA Skills be part of your journey this July.

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram as we explore the concept of validation together.

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