Overwhelmed Already?

September 4, 2018

As schools start and my work moves into a higher gear, I find myself more fatigued. I am not as ‘ready’ for the intensity of the interactions, the conversations, and the movement my work requires. I can get a little overwhelmed and exhausted at the very thought of ‘more.’ And I get grumpy. Grouchy. Snippy. Not good.

I know that we are all building our stamina at this time of year. Finding ways to build ‘muscle’ so we can do the work. And it’s only September. We got a long way to go. It’s normal to need to come home on a Friday and just hit the couch and not get up for a while. We need to recover and repair. Give ourselves some slack. Some self-compassion. And, not feel like a loser to already feel tired when we just started the school year. Sigh.

And yet it is more than that. The studies on teacher burnout continue. Then there is the news – fighting, incivility, uncertainty. It is a time, for many, of disillusionment way beyond our classrooms and schools.

While I can share with you articles about how to manage burnout, and point you toward books that should help: Elena Aguilar’s Onward or Laura van Dernoot Lipsky’s The Age of Overwhelm: Strategies for the Long Haul, I know the idea of reading one more thing might sound like just another assignment.

Here’s an easier suggestion. Smile. Psychology Today writes, “According to Ron Gutman, the author of Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act, British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.” Watch Gutman’s TED talk for more.

And cuz I know you are busy, here are a few short videos that I hope make you smile.

Even if this all is too silly for you, it might really work. Research subjects directed to place a pencil between their teeth, forcing their lips into a smile, actually feel better. So it’s worth feeling goofy for just a minute. Say cheese!

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DeAngelo. From Amazon: In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine)…In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.”

New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World — and How to Make It Work for You by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms. Amazon writes, “For most of human history, the rules of power were clear: power was something to be seized and then jealously guarded. This “old power” was out of reach for the vast majority of people. But our ubiquitous connectivity makes possible a different kind of power. “New power” is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It works like a current, not a currency — and it is most forceful when it surges. The battle between old and new power is determining who governs us, how we work, and even how we think and feel…In an era increasingly shaped by new power, this groundbreaking book offers us a new way to understand the world — and our role in it.”

9 Professional Conversations to Change Our Schools: A Dashboard of Options by William Sommers and Diane Zimmerman. Amazon writes, “In a landscape where technology can undermine personal connections, even the most talented educator can feel like they’re practicing their craft in isolation. Nine Professional Conversations to Change Our Schools is a framework for revitalizing the art of the professional conversation. It guides educators through structures for collaboration, grants access to vast storehouses of applied wisdom, and facilitates a consensual knowledge base for standards of excellence.”

About Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.

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Praise for Jennifer

“Our school’s work with Jennifer Abrams has sown the seeds of stronger communication skills among the adults in the building. This has only served to strengthen the integrity of communication between staff and students as well. We’ve added her language to our expectations: honest, humane, and growth-producing conversations occur regularly.”

Dr. Nancy Frey, Dean of Academic Affairs
Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego, CA