What our Schools Need Most Right Now

schools compassion back to school image

Stop for a second.  Take a deep breath.

We all might be feeling overwhelmed at the moment.  Everyone has felt like that in recent months.  Whether you are a teacher, parent, or both, students have been at the heart of our emotions out of concern for their safety first, then their education.  Many of us are struggling to find that place of patience and understanding. How can we rise above what we are feeling at the moment?

Now is a time for compassion.

It might sound naïve, but given our current situation, compassion is incredibly crucial right now.  In an ideal world we would all like to think we can be compassionate even during the toughest of times, but it turns out that is much harder than one thinks.  Emotions run highest when it comes to our health and the health of our children and that instinct to guard and protect can often cloud our judgement when it comes to others. But the truth is that our children could benefit tremendously from our examples of compassion and patience.

You can probably guess what has prompted this theme – our recent return to the classroom.  At TELLAL we speak to teachers, schools, parents, administrators and students almost every single day.  Our network of individuals, families and governing bodies gives us one of the widest frames of reference, not to mention that many of us also have little ones in school right now.  What we are discovering most is that people continue to be overwhelmed by the upheaval, the confusion and their concerns about safety.  And that this stress is (somewhat understandably) bringing out our fight or flight instincts.

You won’t need us to share specific details, but you will have no trouble recognising the issues faced by schools trying to keep up to speed with governmental guidelines, senior leaders furiously editing timetables, teachers pushed to their limits, parents trying to coordinate new schedules and rules and children trying to adapt to a classroom that looks very different from the one they left.  All of this can be a dangerous catalyst for poor communication and misunderstanding topped off with an overflowing cup of fight or flight.  From parent Whats App groups that fuel heightened emotions to teachers’ patience tried by pure exhaustion, we might feel lost on how to find a positive way forward.   So how can we find a way to uplift everyone?

There are certainly two things we can all agree on.  Our children will benefit from continued education and they should be as safe as we can possibly make them.   That is why the UAE Government, the Ministry of Education and KHDA continue to work with schools across the country to open and to stay open.  But the global spread of Covid-19 has been an unprecedented event, so there is no roadmap on how to do that.  Schools, administrators and teachers are doing their best to find solutions that work so that students cannot just survive this pandemic, but thrive in the face of it. But there are no absolutes, there are no right answers and without a miracle cure, the only way we can navigate through this crisis is to work together, not drag each other down.

The fact is that everyone has, and continues to be, impacted by the pandemic and if you are reading this, we bet there are many, many who are way worse off than us.  People have lost jobs, homes and loved ones.  Many are hanging on by the skin of their teeth.  So the next time that we are at our wits end, and about to lose our cool, let’s take a breath.  Think about our experience, our motives and what others might be dealing with – have compassion.  Think about those less fortunate and how that should shape our perspective.  How could our input contribute to a solution rather than add further negativity?   If we have the strength and character to do this, imagine how much more we could accomplish and how much better off our experiences would be, for us, for the schools and, most importantly, for our children.

Debbie Jaunich
Head of Business Strategy
What our Schools Need Most Right Now
Debbie joined TELLAL Institute after 20+ years as an entrepreneur in both the US and the UAE. In 2016 she co-founded the Arab Culturalist, a business and cultural consultancy company that grew out of the need for investors in the region to understand the cultural nuances of doing business in the Middle East. Prior to her work with the Arab Culturalist, she was the Schools Programme Coordinator at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
What our Schools Need Most Right Now
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