Finding Calm in the Eye of the Storm

By Denise Pontrelli
Learning, Innovation, & Design Director
School IQ

Living in the Midwest, we’ve likely all been through our fair share of storms. We’ve felt the intense winds of a severe thunderstorm, had to dig ourselves out of deep snowbanks during a blizzard, or maybe even experienced a funnel cloud drop down from the sky. And though I’ve never personally been through a hurricane, I can imagine the power of the wind and rain wreaking devastation on all that crosses its path.

I’ve been thinking a lot about storms – both the literal and figurative kind – ever since hearing Thomas Friedman, a well- known Minnesota author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, discuss his book, “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.”

During his speech, Friedman shared about the massive changes underway in our society (from environmental and political to economic) and the chaos this change is causing. The only way to survive the hurricane, Friedman said, is to be within its “eye”. The eye of the storm is a term that defines part of a hurricane. It’s the small zone of calm in the midst of chaos, ferocious rains, and battering destruction.

We all experience storms in our personal and professional lives, too. Those unexpected and life-altering events that throw our world into complete chaos. All these things have the potential to devastate us, unless we have the proper survival tools in place.

What does all this have to do with our schools?

Schools and communities are not immune to the political, economic, and environmental storms brewing all around them. There is unrest and uncertainty all around us, and it impacts our students, staff, and communities. According to Friedman, the people and organizations that will be successful in the future will need to be resilient and create propulsion strategies to move themselves forward.

School leaders cannot do it alone. To create safe schools and communities for our students and families, public and private organizations need to network and collaborate. Leaders need to invest in innovative solutions to solve complex problems. The key to district success will be to accept imperfection, embrace the diversity of people, and champion an openness to new ideas.

This is where communities can foster calm in the eye of the storm.

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