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Building Community Through Better Relationships

Being Self-Absorbed With No One Looking

Beautiful people and gorgeous weather summarizes Southern California’s landscape. Depending on who’s counting, California’s southern half has an approximate population of 20 million people within proximity of awesome sunsets into the Pacific Ocean. So far, the profile is creating a breathtaking  profile, and it is lying! No matter how self-absorbed, tanned, manicured, or well-dressed they appear to be, many Californians are ugly. Not necessarily physically unattractive, but ugly people. Ironically, it is relatively easy to be self-absorbed when no one is looking. Despite external appearances, by being self-absorbed, individual frustration reveals itself in various ways. One way that sadly affects Californians is mindless violence!

Is Bad Behavior Sexy?

Once a community, a region, or a state, realizes that enormous material and social disparities exist, then the polite response for the perceived less fortunate is correcting the disparity. The truth is at the foundation for California’s notorious violent culture. Between the haves and have-nots, the state has enormous social and economic gaps. Then, after factoring inflamed frustrations from Covid-19, inconsistently fractured educational environments and largely unjustified cultural entitlement, a state emerges with potential secession in the north and race-based displacement to the south. Forget about “Can we all just get along?”; the new question is how do so many self-interested citizens find social alignment?

In a land where everyone is supposedly sexy and entitled, is anyone really either one? Fundamentally, hate is ugly. Road rage has captured the imagination of too many citizens and conspiracy theorists. Interpreting the statistics of violent crimes in our current environment and communities is debatable, particularly among a population that cannot even agree on who actually belongs here. The violence is evident in freeway snipers, race-based violence, renegade law enforcement caught up in crimes of violence and vice, plus citizens choosing to practice random mayhem. Furthermore, in sunny, southern California’s deserts, it seems that more corpses are being found there lately. This problem has become much more complicated than gang violence based on colors!

What Is To Fear?

Random violence creates panic. Consequently, scared people exhibit escalated anxiety and possess weapons. Law enforcement is doing the best that they can in tight budgetary environments and unprecedented violent conditions. Then, youth stopped attending school in some areas. Meanwhile, other schools enjoyed privilege in continuing to march toward an educated and prosperous future. The haves and have-nots encroached uncomfortably near each other physically, and those consequences led to profiling, as well as violence and incarceration. Entire communities struggled with comprehending the consequences and repercussions. Literally, the mindsets have progressed to the point where certain communities are wondering loudly, “Can we shoot them, yet?”

With multitudes exercising their broadening Second Amendments rights birthed out of unprecedented social anxiety, is anyone safe? The question is no longer whether justice is applied equally regarding violence, the issue has emerged is it practiced at all in some places? Whether it is social pressure, individuals trying to understand their place in this changing society, or economic pressure of what is a good paying job, the reality reveals a fragmenting society. Communication breakdowns in such societies are common because rules continuously shift, then trust in authority erodes. Technology permits communities to communicate quickly. But, is the information reliable? Is it trustworthy? Who’s truth do we believe?

Conclusion

Remaining calm is a tactic and people can make that choice. Yet, violence and mayhem makes news. Are life choices now driven by ratings? Nevertheless, experience says that California will survive this turmoil. Furthermore, hope appears within the most interesting stereotypes and the oddest pockets of society. For example, during a recent trip to the post office, people were politely social-distanced. Patrons smiled and held doors open for each other. The staff was professional. The post offices’ reputation for violence and unhinged customers and employees, does not stand up to this typical experience. Southern Californians, in the aggregate, want to attend to their business and contribute to their communities. The details may get a little messy, but decency seems to prevail. Fundamentally, society retains the opportunity to be kind! Such hope is not perfect. But, it clearly beats living in a militarized police state. And, while we are being kind, also be mindful, to be safe! Communities appreciate that, too!

By Glenn W Hunter

Author of “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements”

Chair, Touchstone Youth Resource Services

To Donate Please Click: www.tyrs.org

June 23, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer Protection is More Than Lotion

A young mother, smearing suntan lotion on one child, while trying to keep up with another child in search of mischief, was a sure sign that summer had arrived. In bygone years, summer suggested longer, warmer, sunny days. It meant more outdoor recreation. Time spent with friends and family expanded as vacation plans came to fruition. However, the previous year has had unprecedented confusion for children navigating school requirements and parents deciphering continuously changing routines. Covid 19, political unrest, disrupted school semesters across levels, and future uncertainty displaced reading, writing and arithmetic as education’s cornerstones. Yet, families continued to seek normalcy, or at least a consistent routine. With or without a mask, individuals desire a consistent set of social rules. What revised coping skills will emerge to help manage the collision of emotions and rights? With tension coming from so many social, cultural, and economic sources, what should families expect regarding an enjoyable summer? 

Violence

Extraordinary violence in retail outlets, places of employment, schools, city streets, and highways accelerate overall feelings of fear. Trauma dominates across age groups and demographics. Coping skills are becoming harder to deploy, as fear escalates. With news cycles that now routinely highlight both random and premeditated deviant violence, American society is having a harder time discerning the bad actors from our protective heroes. Was that officer a bad cop before, or after being associated with violence targeting minorities? Who exactly are our leaders that are supposed to serve and protect honest, decent citizens?

First, recognize that not all citizens, educators, legislators, authorities, and cultural icons are bad actors. Instances that suggest otherwise remain newsworthy largely because they remain out of the ordinary. Additionally, honest, hard working people across cultures and ethnic backgrounds make it through the day because they demonstrate responsibility and avoid situations that randomly compromise their safety. These millions of American often get overlooked because they are ordinary. Fundamentally, violence is part of our society. Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people. Yet, embracing behaviors that emphasize neighborly experience should have favorable outcomes. Except for the fact that guarantees do not exist. Still, losing hope is not an option.

Social Skills

Important tools to support community and individual desires for enjoying American liberties feature Social Emotional Learning skills. As people embrace their ability to act neighborly within their work and social spaces, the outcomes of these positive behaviors must have priorities. On the surface non-violence is an admirable goal. In reality, solutions are more nuanced. The absence of violence does not have to advance a local sense of community. Violence itself may reflect a more sinister problem. The problem may be insensitivity to honoring and respecting each other. What skills is society providing that are designed to enhance the well-being of society as a whole?

Empathy, compassion, respect are obvious correct answers to this challenge. Yet again, the problem resides in understanding the absence of these attributes. Exercising the ability to think before responding is an important skill for people of all ages. Assumptions are important considering they help individuals benefit from shortcuts in assessing situations in the aggregate. The problem is that interpersonal interactions are individual engagements. Social resolution for such challenges reside in the public’s ability to deploy respect whenever possible. That skill requires listening, understanding, and then responding. Ultimately, diffusing violence in the upcoming summer largely depends on societies’ ability to listen and understand. As long as individuals remain determined to impose their opinions and biases on others with the full support of authority figures, then misunderstandings will continue to escalate with deadly ramifications. Compassion, dialogue, and mutual respect provide foundations for less destructive interactions. Longer, hot days may be ingredients for troublesome summers. However, cooler heads, common goals, and civil conversations are certainlyt great foundations for local communities to mutually enjoy each others’ attributes!

Conclusion

Key challenges in many summers routinely reflect increasing violence. More aggressive conversation among national leaders fuels local trauma. Increased uncertainty on learning standards and educational progress results in student anxiety. Then, cultural and racial stress expresses itself in random and structured acts of violence. With so many problems hitting so many subgroups of our population, identifying a quick resolution is impractical, if not impossible. What can be done is to seek common ground in the supermarkets, playgrounds, and shopping locations for sharing mutual respect . Staying in place regarding social tension helps no one. Common courtesy and advocating its spread provides a chance for accountability to emerge within our national culture. Ultimately, common courtesy, civil discussion and suspending prejudiced assumptions are essential steps toward cooler heads prevailing in the midst of escalating summer temperatures. Try these steps to reduce trauma. Peace.

By Glenn W Hunter

Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services

Author of “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements” Click: Available on Amazon.

May 31, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Education: Growth Or Pause?

In an evolving world that shifts unbelievably quickly, is this truly a smart time to ease off the pedal of education? As society and norms morph at constantly faster rates, more information and ideas circulate. Clearly, this is no time to slow any progress regarding society’s youth or their learning! Yet, between pandemics, social unrest, and ongoing questions concerning progress, communities nationwide have been inconsistent in their youth’s educational progress. While expanding challenges exist across community, financial, and intellectual barriers, now priorities concerning emotional health and future uncertainty are becoming larger factors in our society. Fundamentally, what does aligning our youths’ learning capacity and educational progress even look like considering the vastly different opinions in progressive American culture lately?

Growth
Community progress depends on several elements, particularly with regards to our youths’ learning and development. Beyond academic fundamentals, the foundation for social civility is established in classrooms and school yards. Early opportunities to get along with others at scale happens in school environments. However, how does that experience ignite when a pandemic removes possibilities for sharing a playground or a reading circle? Furthermore, what social exposure really happens when children presently learn how to take turns through a screen. Clearly, the youth will adapt. But, will they maximize their ability to interact with each other socially when a screen filters interaction?

Also, how well does learning take place where both teachers and students are unfamiliar with the environment? In fact, the more experience the teacher has, the more that they must now retool their teaching expertise for this different interface. The most difficult challenge happens when the most experienced teachers must retool with new methods of delivering lessons. Essentially, the experience that these educational treasures have polished over the years, have now become a weakness. The game changed. Specifically, the absence of personal interaction results in a brand new environment. Compassion matters! Even when environments sustain some semblance of physical interaction, the closeness remains compromised with the threat of illness. Literally, how does growth occur without establishing nurturing foundations?

Pause
One option is to pause. Because of interruptions in the school environment over the last year, measurable academic progress will be more inconsistent than any previous year. Social Emotional Learning suffers because of the dramatic changes and uncertainty resulting from illness and absence throughout many communities. Practically, does everyone progress according to their age? If progress depends on actual academic development, who is truly equipped to determine the new standards? What does social, emotional, or cultural equity look like in this subjective environment? Even if this broad standard is objective, is it truly being applied justly across individual jurisdictions? Is the solution to allow a pause in development until the challenge achieves more clarity? How long does a child repeat a grade before that child eventually progresses, or is social-emotionally scarred?

The pause is dangerous because an objective standard is already difficult to achieve. Now, an objective judgment for progress emerges from an environment that is experiencing this confusion for the first time, as well. History reveals that litigants are not patient when parents in communities believe their children’s development has been compromised. Trauma in a community under recognizable conditions can create stress in unanticipated ways. In an entirely New Normal, where progress among students has come under scrutiny, extraordinary efforts among educators may still fall short of expectations. Yet, decisions must be made and communities must progress toward proper functioning. Trauma is unavoidable with so much novelty imposing upon a sensitive population.

Conclusion
Still, decisions are required. And the consequences clearly transcend academic and social development. Even teachers need to be handled delicately considering that their precious roles have to be honored and their own social-emotional needs must be respected. Essentially, these unprecedented times bring singular challenges. The importance of emphasizing social emotional learning skills benefits all concerned parties because emotional stability is important for intellectual, social and cultural foundations. Recognize that trauma-informed approaches equip students, teachers, and administrators to be sensitive to feelings and emotional well-being for all stakeholders. Without valuing behaviors and sensitivity, across all individuals, the subsequent year will feature additional trauma. Learning and social gaps will continue to increase, therefore expanding dysfunctional pressure on society as a whole.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair Touchstone Youth Resource Services
Please Donate to: www.TYRS.org

Glenn W Hunter’s New Book “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements” is now available on Amazon.

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s At The Top?

Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?”, a local commentator asked legendary climber George Mallory decades ago. Mallory allegedly answered, “Because it’s there.” While the interview produced a memorable quote, actually climbing the world’s largest mountain is undeniably more complex. Even from an attitude perspective, the reasons vary. Desiring to defeat a unique challenge is an important motivator. Being the individual who defies death in this pursuit likewise provides a unique rush. Ultimately, a common motivator for any singular accomplishment is the ego-driven desire to be recognized at the head of their category. The specific drivers vary regarding their insatiable motivation. What’s at the top? Only the individual champion’s ego can accurately answer that question.

Viewpoint

Validation can be one essential driver to legendary accomplishments. The conqueror can easily own the point of view that “I worked hard at it and I achieved it.” This conqueror can now accomplish the next task. “Faint heart never won fair maidens.”, according to the romantic poet’s perspective on this sentiment. Nevertheless, that viewpoint is easily accused of being self-centered. Rarely does an exceptional, never-done-before, feat compete in a vacuum. A clear viewpoint reveals that other individuals and ideas contributed to the superhuman accomplishment. Fundamental items like tools, training, and inspiration are essential to securing mindsets and foundations for great accomplishment.

At the core of the ego-fueled drive for superiority, an individual must possess supreme confidence. Core competence regarding necessary skills run a close second! Perspective completes the triangle because achieving singular feats require more than nerves and talent. An intelligence requirement provides a necessary level of respect for the achievement, as well as vision regarding the risks. That balance allows fearless conquerors to avoid destructively reckless behaviors while sustaining supreme confidence. That viewpoint empowers the drive for greatness to align with respect for the victory.

Camaraderie.

Although accomplishing legendary feats is a straightforward way for an individual to enjoy individual accolades, an unexpected benefit emerges. World-class performers are unique by definition. The individual efforts and competence that superior performers require make them singular, even in a team sport, or endeavor. That unity reinforces aligned efforts toward singular achievement. Consequently, even group efforts that result in singular achievement still form a unique team accomplishment.

Specifically, champions are unique because they reach the pinnacle of their particular arena. Whether the conqueror emerges as a Nobel laureate or a Super Bowl champion, additional team members contribute to the ultimate win. Consequently, champions rely on teammates, trainers, coaches, strategists, nutritionists and multiple other supporters to prepare the winners for their ultimate victories. At nearly every level, elite victories require several contributors who are part of the team that eventually unveils individual success. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, the champion does not achieve the accolades associated with reaching the top alone. Anyone who arrives at their particular mountaintop, benefitted from extraordinary drive, as well as detailed attention to teamwork. As any honest champion will admit, the crowning victory was not a singular success. The event that revealed their conquest undoubtedly provided a stage for recognizing communal greatness.

Champions realize that they do not perform in isolation. Consequently, they all have a unique camaraderie among the supporters that contributed to the conquest. At the literal mountaintop, one individual places the flag declaring the victory. Yet, even at that point, the individual is not alone. The people patting the conqueror on the back are contributors, not cheerleaders. At the mountain top is a group that cooperates for victory. Another mountain awaits. Get a team together to conquer the next desired mountaintop!

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To contribute: Click on www.TYRS.org

April 30, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emotions

“Stop that crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about!”, shouts the frustrated young mother. Instantly, numerous, assorted emotions have now dramatically collided. One sentence instantly identified at least four different emotions dominating one scenario. The mother loves the child, or else she would not really care about the crying, nor the reason. The child expresses frustration because they have undeveloped communication skills to express their immediate problem. The mother internalizes anger because the child is not clearly communicating, in addition to the fact that the mother has conflicting priorities. The child feels neglect, because they have a problem and it is not being resolved to their immediate satisfaction. How in the world do people practically manage so many co-existing emotions in any routine scenario?

Behavioral Triggers

The important purpose of emotions is their role in assisting other people to understand and communicate better. The transacted idea involves human reasoning, as well as more basic feelings. This function is an essential part of the human condition. According to psychologist, Kendra Cherry, “Emotions help us to take action, to survive, strike and avoid danger, to make decisions, to understand others. Moreover, they help other people to understand us.” Plainly, the behavioral triggers launched by emotions are fundamental to human beings sharing their instinctive, as well as mental processes. Emotions facilitate communication of the heart, then the head.

Beyond this logical approach to processing emotions is the mental foundation that people want satisfaction in as many ways as possible. In the case of the young mother, she fundamentally wants to love her child. She wants the child to be happy. She also wants a clean house, a happy husband, and perhaps some solitary time featuring a hot bath, awesome tea, and a great book. Unfortunately, these priorities often collide. Emotionally, she must balance these priorities to achieve an optimal solution. Unfortunately, that outcome requires more bandwidth than is humanly available. Outbursts are the release of that pent up pressure.

Emotional Outcomes

So, what is the solution? Obviously, trade-offs and explicit priorities is a great start. Establishing a few non-negotiable outcomes clearly helps. The feeble, innocent baby often takes priority. Simply, neglecting a young life under development for momentary pleasure can result in grave consequences. Emotional outcomes have to remain a priority in social interactions. An emotionally damaged child can suffer trauma for decades into the future. How exactly does a rational person process these options for optimal benefits?

The question has several answers because each individual has different priorities. Even functional families that agree on major principles, still differ on particulars. When the baby throws their cereal across the kitchen, is the punishment a time-out or a spanking? What if the mess ruins mom’s brand new power suit? Clearly, multiple factors play into these decisions. Even the most well-balanced plans for punishments that fit the long-term and short-term benefits of everyone involved may waiver in the heat of the moment. Nevertheless, the exception caused by unexpected events and unintended consequences must be managed justly, and often promptly.

Conclusion

As decisions are considered and resolutions are executed, people will continue to evaluate their needs in the midst of daily plans and unintended consequences. When time-sensitive judgments are being executed, the consequences will endure. Furthermore, today’s reaction is the next generation’s iron-clad rule. Emotional trauma will be a byproduct of many decisions. Corrective actions will be an ongoing challenge in the name of consistency and fairness. Nevertheless, at the core of emotional interactions, is the desire to have resolutions that work. In achieving these solutions, particularly where generational behaviors and practices are at stake, remember that immediate decisions will evolve into long-term consequences. Executing successful, emotional triggers may seem to require effective long-term planning, but what they really need is capable, real-time navigation. Emotional reactions have consequences. Be ready to navigate them over the long-term.

By Glenn W Hunter

Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services

To contribute: Click on www.TYRS.org

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lessons, Grades or Fogging a Mirror

School is an essential part of American life. But, what exactly happens in the process of delivering education to our youth? Furthermore, what exactly happens when schooling gets interrupted? As many communities across the country wrestle with assorted variations of this question, what is undeniably consistent is that education is enduring unprecedented shifts! As different approaches to normalizing education have emerged in the last year across assorted communities nationally, the essential point features that lessons have experienced interruptions. Furthermore, as interruptions have taken different forms, re-engagement will require different approaches to re-establish progress with youth’s school work.

Learning

Learning is the foundation that establishes education. Still, the activity and the institution do not necessarily align. Disparities in educational resources and backgrounds have been an issue since the founding of the country. Over several decades, improvement has been achieved to varying degrees. Still consistency is at best an aspiration, and at worse, a lie! Nevertheless, what happens when fundamental academic institutions are disrupted at every level? How do students re-engage to resume their educational progress across an entire spectrum of available learning opportunities?

Putting textbooks and lesson plans in front of students is relatively straightforward. The Social Emotional Learning component remains trickier. What trauma has impacted individual children as they have individually navigated learning in the pandemic? With public comments attacking the American consciousness from various and contrary viewpoints, how does youth process the messages? More importantly, how do they emotionally process all the verbal contradictions? “Wear a mask!” “Don’t wear a mask!” For learning to function as it should, students have to buy in! Such engagement happens best when it is heart to heart. All stakeholders must communicate encouragingly and emotionally to progress down a more effective learning path!

Measuring

Nevertheless, without engagement no progress happens. Grades fundamentally measure progress. Yet, what happens when academic progress is interrupted? Then, emotional dysfunction and questionable performance emerges. Is interrupted progress really the cause of inferior performance? How is students’ progress measured consistently when they are having such widely varied experiences reconnecting with school? How does overall performance fairly measure outcomes when one student spent time away from school with designated daily study time, while another spent the same hours without wi-fi? If grades reflect comparative outcomes, then consistent inputs must be available first.

As education systems reset the ability to teach our youth, acknowledge the facts that the emotional weight of performance has social emotional components. When comparing students with lesser resources to students with superior resources, evaluating performance strictly numerically will yield erroneous consequences. Emotionally, students and families will recognize disadvantages. Furthermore, unfair comparison to performance metrics will eventually result in disproportionate emotional challenges among disadvantaged students. Flexibility in teaching and grading goes far beyond placating bruised egos and inferior learning. The outcomes now factor in potential hopelessness that has been communicated to previous achievers who suddenly were socially excluded from social-emotional support and resources which encouraged competitive performance.

Conclusion

According to legendary motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, “Success leaves clues.” Regarding Social Emotional Learning, youth must be encouraged in locating clues so that they experience positive reinforcement and affirmation regarding academic performance. Repeat for social performance, as well. Good behavior now has an opportunity to reset! Educators can now execute previous plans to encourage more socially inclusive behaviors. Under no circumstances should students be rewarded for fogging a mirror. However, with a clean slate that rewards classroom contributions, opportunities surface to reset expectations for desired behaviors. A door has opened for youth to experience fresh social-emotional encouragement to embrace the benefits of being more functional and positive contributors in the classroom, society, and their greater communities! Have them enter that specific door!

By Glenn W Hunter

Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services.

To contribute: Click on www.TYRS.org

March 31, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gonna Make The Honor Roll

A young man from an undesirable part of town had a secret! Considering the violence and lawlessness where he lived, secrets were nothing special. But this singular young man had a very specific secret. He liked school! He worked hard to fit in with his peers. But, astute teachers and nosy students could not help but notice. Some teachers who had settled comfortably in their own mediocrity refused to believe the miracle that was before them, especially in THAT community. In the spirit of John 1:46, “‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathaniel asked. ‘Come and see’ said Phillip.” Lo and behold, the young man was educationally gifted. He then decided and declared, “I shall make the honor roll to prove it!”

Be The Voice

Typically, teachers would have found additional work to challenge the rising star. Or, they would have empowered him as a positive example by having him tutor weaker students. But, they did not want to bring more work upon themselves, nor shine unnecessary attention to make other students jealous. Regardless, excellence emerged! That is what excellence does! Subsequently, the next growth step was now self-esteem. He needed to acquire Social Emotional Skills to match his intellect. The trauma of being an outsider required tools that supported confirming his inner excellence and confidence. Furthermore, he needed coping skills to overcome jealous taunts. His intellectual confidence could only protect him so far. Intentionality to embrace singular skills, and to reward any new talents, are necessary to build rising leaders! Although the environment may have remained consistent, progress regarding his individual development required more nurturing soil.

Beyond the bold public statement, the young man began doing the work. He read. He studied. He answered questions correctly. Yet, the youth demonstrated his excellence in relative silence. Nevertheless, as he quietly pursued his task, his gifts screamed for attention! The other students could not ignore his superior performance. Aggregately, they were not pleased. Furthermore, many teachers were unsure how to manage his level of excellence and discipline. He had disrupted the status quo, plus implicitly began to challenge peers and teachers to perform better.

Make The Choice

The classroom, the school building, and the learning center do not exist in a vacuum. Consciously developing well rounded skills must be cultivated to fulfill all the latent powers that are in this individual, and others. Math skills are a wonderful foundation; now they can provide a direct learning path to musical excellence. Likewise his mastery of essays, reinforced the foundation of a superior orator and leader who infused emotion into flawless prose. Stages and podiums were fast becoming inevitable destinations. Consequently, proven academic choices to develop this leader had to be intentionally introduced as quickly as his academic greatness sprouted.

These developmental choices go beyond celebrating one rising star. The true value is providing the courage for the next star. The positive momentum has to become the new normal. The next bright young lady can now be ready to demonstrate the ability to excel, too. Without intentionality, the next star student may choose to ease up a bit. The challenge with a positive example is that it is conspicuous and is easy to take for granted. Still, what educator is willing to embrace the unique genius of the next academic superstar?

Conclusion

When superior talent is left uncheck, too often it resorts to hijinks. Furthermore, inside every student with strong grades is the temptation to ease off the accelerator. The student that believes that by making the honor roll once, he can easily make it again probably has limited leadership for greatness speaking to him. “Excellence is not an act; but a habit.” Miss the joy of being exceptional, then witness the difficult challenge to regain greatness. Of course, repetitive stardom is achievable. But returning to the pinnacle becomes more difficult upon leaving it. Excellence is not sustained if it is achieved to make Mom happy. Ongoing growth, and continued high performance must be internally driven. When that foundation is reinforced on an ongoing basis, then the sustained excellence becomes replicable and contagious. That path paves the way to more robust learning environments!

By Glenn W Hunter

Chair, Board of Directors, Touchstone Youth Resource Services

Learn more about Social Emotional Learning, or to donate got to TYRS.org

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BYOB – Bring Your Own Blog/ Bring Your Own Beverage/ Bring Your Own Best Idea

WELCOME to our community of bloggers, storytellers, authors & content providers!!!

BYOB has come together as a workshop to provide a safe place to bring your writing ideas to other bloggers who want a little more insight and courage to get their personal masterpieces into the universe.

BYOB is a virtual community where bloggers come together monthly on the third Friday to exchange ideas and polish their written contributions to the world. Experienced bloggers, published authors, and aspiring writers all come together to share ideas and processes to get their brilliant ideas into the marketplace!

Whether you seek affirmation, storytelling tips, a nurturing creative outlet, or a nudge to press “Post”, BYOB will encourage you to get your best content circulating. You do not have to write a bestseller, you just have to be posted! Join us as we provide confidence and support in getting your best content posted!!

Better CommunicationBetter CommunityBetter World | AuthorBloggerCommunityContentPublisherStorytellingWriting 

February 11, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trauma Outside The School

A deeply respected and accomplished school administrator complained about students who have stopped attending school. The school children were not sick, but they had become sick and tired! Their parents felt that same way. Consequently, attendance stopped! The education system’s changes, as a result of the pandemic, have caused many new ideas to surface. School systems nationwide have approached education with assorted learning model innovations for example, virtual classes, reconfigured live classes, and hybrid formats. Some methods worked better than others in accordance with a multivariate matrix of academic outcomes or possibly because of socio-cultural influences caused by different locations. Nevertheless, in this administrator’s particular case, the children were no longer going to school virtually, physically, or in any other fashion.

Uncertainty

When the parents were school aged, they woke up in the morning to prepare for school. They took a bus, carpooled, walked, biked or made other arrangements to get to a school building or buildings. The generation before them basically did the same. Then, a once in one hundred years pandemic struck! No one really knew what to do! Academic ingenuity entered the situation. With millions of kids, assorted politics, previously unfathomable health concerns and an unprecedented quantity of laws that have entered the discussion, consistency had been largely abandoned across learning environments. 

Some decisions worked better than others. Some communities and districts behaved more functionally than their neighbors. Yet over time, fear, confusion, and an increasing desire for normalcy seems to have hijacked reason. In too many households, both children and parents became sick and tired of the unknown, and even more afraid of the new normal. Many families’ decisions defaulted to stay at home and put school on the backburner. When more certainty emerges, discussions can resume.

Trauma

Trauma has established a foothold in many communities. The dysfunction is real. Several school administrators are befuddled. Parents want a return to established school rituals. Reality has firmly established that option is closed to negotiation. Parents, students, and frankly teachers want the new normal to crawl back into the abyss from which it escaped. School leaders want learning to resume. Secretly, they all want to return to the now extinct education routines. Even school extracurriculars are stymied. While social distancing may actually work in theater, it does not translate well to football. 

Essentially, trauma has stymied social and intellectual growth. This version differs from typical external threats. The school leaders do not truly have broadly actionable options. Administrations and bureaucracies have effectively evolved to protect children and facilitate learning possibilities to a significant and functional degree. Except now, the pandemic really does not care about protocols and protections. It has established a cloud of fear, illness, death and randomness within the education system. Parents, students, and even teachers now cower under the new rules. The trauma now reigns.

Conclusion

Families desire to check out can be attributed to fear and uncertainty. Aspects of depression surface as families with students try to adapt in a newly uncertain world that does not seem to be progressing. But, ultimately it is trauma outside the school community that is driving people away from education and other established institutions. Trauma does not just project fear, it disorients to the point that functionality is negotiable. In the case of school systems dealing with the pandemic and ongoing educational requirements, the schools have limited resources to negotiate. At this point, few options are attractive. Nevertheless, from a Trauma Informed perspective, all parties need to find their personal normalcy and expect to prepare with flexible options. Normalcy may or may not come, but at some point the New Normalcy will be established and compliance will be expected. Then, the hard decisions surrounding compliance and punishment will need to be made. Be Safe.

By Glenn W Hunter

Board Chair, Touchstone Youth Resources Services. 

For more information or to contribute, please go to www.TYRS.org

January 28, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sick and Tired (Of Being Sick and Tired)

Two drivers on their morning commute in an urban area get too close for comfort. One yells an obscenity. The other chooses to express his response in sign language. They both perfectly understood the other’s perspective and continue to their destinations. For decades working Americans have wanted less stressful commutes to work. The trauma results from traffic, short tempered drivers, too many old drivers, too many new drivers, or just because it is Monday. Urban traffic has stretched bad attitudes and shrank tempers on drivers’ daily travels to employment for a long time. But, in the last year Covid 19 has seemingly invaded every aspect of American lives, including what used to be the workplace commute. The virus’ reach has impacted so many aspects of American’s daily existence, that people simply accept that they are now “Sick and Tired, Of Being Sick and Tired”.

Zoom Fatigue

As Covid 19 expanded its influence on the American workplace, physical work locations became more problematic and virtual meetings replaced them. Connecting with colleagues and customers from the comfort of home sounded great in theory, until workers realized that they nearly never left home, nor family members for that matter. Simply, focusing on communicating via screen created new problems. Workers soon became eager to replace work – life balance with work-life separation. If being “on” for your boss for eight hours was bad, being “on” for family members of assorted ages and background was worse. “Zoom fatigue” quickly became the popular term to describe being accessible via audio-visual communication without ceasing.

Fundamentally, fatigue is no joke. Where once fatigue resulted from physical exhaustion, intense exertion, or mental weariness, now staring at screens incessantly has become mind-numbingly exhausting. Only seeing people from their mid-torso and up results in greater annoyance. From a Social Emotional Learning perspective, people at work encounter more irritability and greater fatigue because now the technology seems to monitor individuals, as opposed to supervisors managing groups. People are not just concerned about getting caught slacking, they are concerned that a technological record of the slacking is now available at all times. The perceived additional scrutiny results in increased trauma. Ultimately, workers are wearing down emotionally because they continuously carry psychological burdens with fewer resources to support them.

Quarantine Fatigue

In the event that Zoom Fatigue did not social-emotionally wear people into the ground, then Quarantine Fatigue emerged as the second punch in the arsenal of corporate boxing. Quarantine fatigue was the next attack on unsuspecting citizens. As the Covid 19 pandemic ebbed, flowed, then surged, people were being required to adhere to Stay-At-Home orders. The result was that people who co-habitated could no longer escape. At its core, Quarantine Fatigue results from too much closeness overpowering individuals’ coping skills. Quarantine Fatigue is not the need to distance from others in your proximity, it is the inability to manage the trauma of being around them at all times! At the core, is the resultant fatigue a byproduct of never escaping the tools that people use for commuting and communicating, or is it the technology evolving to the point it channels our human bitterness more efficiently than people can personal space and comfort?

Essentially Quarantine Fatigue is the tiredness that results from being detached from others. The human experience features the ability to connect with other people, preferably in a multi-sensory fashion. Voice conversations are good. Being able to interpret body language in addition to verbal expression is much better! Positive connectivity resulting from multi-sensory contact invigorates people. The invigorated activity leads to productivity. When Quarantine Fatigue urges people to engage less, the associated energy required for productivity decreases along with it. Even introverts, who stereotypically prefer to be alone, in reality desire some connectivity. Often, their connectivity is strategically in moderation.

Conclusion

Being sick and tired of being sick and tired eventually diminishes productivity. The human experience is not really complicated. For desired outcomes, positively engage people visibly, verbally and emotionally. Personal energy increases productivity. Zoom communication is more effective than a phone call, yet still less optimal than personal interaction. Performing in a quarantined environment works well in the short-run. However, denying emotional connectivity ultimately results in sub-optimal performance. Nevertheless, deliberately maximizing the energy that any functional individual can produce can lead to extraordinary results. Minimize Zoom fatigue by visually experiencing the rest of the world through a window, with a pet or via one-on-one conversations. Multi-sensory exchanges make a positive difference. Acknowledge the rest of the world. The purpose is to experience life beyond the social emotional limitations of a stifling work environment. Then, get back to work! Maximizing your productivity is still good for your personal well-being and ongoing employment.

By Glenn W Hunter

Board Chair, Touchstone Youth Resources Serices. For more information or to contribute, please go to www.TYRS.org

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment