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Are You Winging It?

Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Wednesday - July 1, 2020

One of the biggest challenges I have had to overcome as a blogger is knowing what to write about every week. I value my followers, like you, and I want to write about what is important to you and the work you do with kids and families.

In my early days of blogging I discovered the importance of having a well thought out plan. At the beginning of every new year, I strategically plan what my blog topics will be every week in the coming year. The process starts with brainstorming at least 52+ topic ideas, writing each one on a sticky note and plastering them on my office wall. Then, the hard part begins – choosing the final 52 topics and arranging each one by the week it will be featured.

Like all previous years, this is how 2020 started for me. I had my weekly blogging plan and was faithfully following it every week…until…the coronavirus hit in mid-March. I remember sitting at my computer on Monday, March 16, and staring at the screen for what seemed liked hours without typing one word.

For the previous six weeks I had written about the most effective strategies research recommended to delay the onset of risky behaviors with middle school students. I had already written about four of the five strategies – idealism, normative beliefs, personal commitment and parent/adult attention – and was scheduled to write about the final and fifth strategy - bonding. I ended up not writing anything on that Monday. I didn’t write anything on Tuesday, March 17, either. Then, on Wednesday, March 18, the day I was scheduled to post my blog, I forced myself to sit down at my computer and start typing. The post ended up being titled, “Shake Up.”​

In the blog post I somehow found a way to write about my scheduled topic of “bonding” while also linking it to what was going on in the world at the time. However, that was the last topic I wrote about that was in my original plan for 2020.

Recently, I went back to re-read the blog posts I have written since March 18. When I read the posts the three weeks following March 18 it brought back memories of the stress, anxiety and confusion I was experiencing at the time. I remember “winging it” when it came to writing my blog. I had no plan from one week to the next and found myself floundering and reacting to what was currently happening in the world. But, in hindsight, it’s of no surprise. We were all “winging it” at that time.

Fast forward to April 22 and things began to change. I began to get more clarity and focus. The future was by no means crystal clear, but it was becoming more obvious that COVID-19 was going to stick around long-term, closures were going to last for months, “going back to normal” was now history and physical isolation and sheltering at home would take its toll on kids and families.

I had a renewed vision for how I could respond and it required me to make changes, explore new options, learn new information and step outside of my comfort zone. I put the original blog plan for 2020 aside and committed to creating a new plan. Out came the sticky notes again and a new schedule was created on my office walls.

I was no longer "winging it" when it came to writing every week. I had a plan and I was writing again with an intention and a purpose. And, it all started with my blog post, “Will You Respond or React”, on April 22. Here is an excerpt from that post:

“Anticipating and preparing for the issues and needs kids and parents will have when they walk through your doors again is one of the most important things you can be doing right now. Now is the time to get yourself, your staff and your organization ready to respond. If you don’t think or plan ahead now, you will find yourself in a state of reaction later. What you do in the days and weeks to come will determine whether you respond or react. Take time to learn all you can about the immediate and long-lasting effects living through this pandemic can have on kids. Stretch the limits of your abilities and engage in learning new methods and skills that will better serve your students and families. Push the boundaries of your creative capacities and “think outside the box” when it comes to new programs, curricula and services you may need to offer. Be ready to re-think, re-learn, re-evaluate, re-flect, re-invest and re-spond.”

Ten weeks have passed since this blog was written. During this time, I’ve written ten new blog posts and hosted three webinars with the intention of helping you anticipate the needs of your kids when they return to your school or organization and developing a plan on how you will respond to those needs.

As I wrote in my April 22 post, “What you do in the days and weeks to come will determine whether you respond or react.”

So, I must ask…What have you done these past ten weeks to prepare for your kids? The time is getting closer, or perhaps it’s come already, for the day when you will be reunited with your kids either in-person or virtual. Is your response plan ready?

If there’s one thing I have learned since March 18, it’s the importance of having a plan – even if it’s a revised plan. I’m reminded of this every day as I look at my wall of sticky notes and each week a new blog post is written. Today, I remove another sticky note after I publish this blog post, asking...

Winging It

P.S. If you’re wondering how you can address the multiple needs your kids will have because of COVID-19 in the most cost-efficient and effective way, tune in to next Thursday’s free webinar at Noon EST. Registration opens on Monday, July 6. Message me if you would like to receive the webinar invitation.

P.S.S. I will also be hosting Part 2 of the webinar, “How to Bring Restorative Practices to Your Students”, with national trainer, Bill Michener, on Thursday, July 23, at Noon EST. I’m currently looking for guest panelists for the webinar who have successfully integrated restorative practices into their work with kids. Might this be you? Message me!