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The Challenges of Crossing Things Off Your “To Do” List

Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - July 9, 2020

If you read last week’s blog post, it probably wouldn’t surprise you if I said that I’m a sucker for a to-do-list. I make lists for everything. It’s really the only way I can get things done.

However, when my “to do” list is long and every task on it seems equally important, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. The stress of not being able to find a starting point can make me sometimes freeze in my tracks, resulting in me doing a whole lot of nothing.

During the past four months I’ve hosted webinars and written weekly blog posts about the important things you will want to consider doing as you welcome your students back after months of isolation and separation due to COVID-19. Last week's blog challenged you to think about how you have used your time these past months to prepare for their return.

This past week, I compiled a list of what I and the webinar experts have recommended you do to prepare and this is what the “to do” list included:

  • Make all students feel welcomed.

  • Create a safe and caring environment for students to share their stories and voice their opinions and viewpoints with you and each other.

  • Give students hope and a vision of a positive future for themselves.

  • Give students a sense of belonging and establish positive relationships among them.

  • Have high expectations for all students.

  • Build a community of support, mutual respect, trust and compassion, rather than on consequences and punishment.

  • Ensure each student is in a positive relationship with at least one important adult in their life.

  • Build students’ resilience from engaging in risky behaviors.

  • Address the social, mental and emotional needs of your students.

After I made this “to do” list I sat back and read it. I could feel a sense of overwhelmingness get the better of me as I read each item. Even more overwhelming was knowing the list could be even longer!

I was also in a quandary of how to even begin prioritizing the list to find a starting point when every task seems just as important as the next one.

Personally, I have found that much of the satisfaction of having a “to do” list is being able to cross things off the list as I complete them. It became obvious to me that many of the above tasks won’t be accomplished quickly or easily. It could take months or longer before some of the tasks could be crossed off. Just knowing this felt somewhat debilitating.

I was also struck by the potential challenges and questions that come with carrying out each of the tasks. Perhaps you have asked yourself the same questions as I found myself asking:

  • What have I been doing that is helpful and I need to continue doing?

  • What do I need to do differently?

  • What new programs or approaches do I need to invest in and implement?

  • Do I have the funding to do what I need to do?

  • Do I have the staffing capacity and proper training to effectively execute the tasks?

  • How can I get the buy in from everyone whose support will be needed?

As the saying goes, "It's easy to give advice, but it's harder to take it." I realized this past week that it's been easy to tell you what to do, but harder than I thought to actually do it. (Sorry!) It requires time, money, resources, training and a well-thought out plan. It also requires something of you (and me!) - commitment, patience, persistence, open-mindedness, effort and the right attitude.

We can talk about what we should do or want to do, but it doesn’t really matter if we never do it. I’m guilty of doing this myself. I’ve had tasks on my personal “to do” list that have been carried over for as many as three years! If they are important enough to stay on my “to do” list that long, then why haven’t I accomplished them yet? The reason usually comes down to 1) not knowing where to start, 2) overcoming the challenges of doing the tasks and/or 3) lacking the motivation and commitment to do the work that needs to be done.
To-Do List
In the coming weeks, I am going to pivot my coaching, consulting and training from “what you need to do” to “how you can do it.” My weekly blog, along with masterclasses and trainings I plan to host, will focus on how to overcome the challenges and answer the questions you have that are keeping you from getting started on the “to do” list. I am committed to helping you find a starting point that leads you to eventually crossing items off the list. My goal is to help you be as prepared as you can be for your students when they return to you!

One learning opportunity you can take advantage of right now is the online masterclass, "How to Have a Positive Influence on Your Students that Lasts for Years."

I will be teaching this online course Thursday, July 16, from 2:00-5:00 pm EST. The class is hosted by Rainbow Days as part of their 2020 Virtual Summer Symposium. During the class I will reveal the five qualities a teacher or any adult needs if they want to have a positive influence on kids years later. I will be teaching specific proven methods you can use to help you develop these qualities and model them in your interaction with kids. Click here to register and be on your way to also earning three CEUs when you complete the class! There’s even better news…taking the methods you learn in this class and using them with your students could potentially cross off up to 7 of the nine tasks on the “to do” list!

So, take a deep breath and let's dive in! Let’s do the work, together, and start crossing things off the “to do” list! WE can DO this!

P.S. I am looking for individuals, schools or organizations who have successfully integrated restorative practices into their work with kids. Might this be you? I would love to visit with you, hear your story and include it in a webinar I will be hosting on Thursday, July 23. Message me at kathleen@knslearningsolutions.com!