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Building Community Through Better Relationships

That Child Left Behind

At the beginning of children’s academic careers, they are young, eager, and possess absorbent minds. Beyond an academic foundation, primary schools were once instrumental in building communities where families flourished. Then, in too many cases, pedagogical standards and metrics moved to the forefront. What once represented a community had turned into a common geographic proximity of people who bused, walked, or drove past each other during pre-determined times to their daily obligations. Isolation and trauma became common terms to describe childhood, unless you counted technology-based communication as connection. Then, in the midst of this evolution a pandemic hit the nation and consequently, established practices and rules concerning schools no longer made sense for consistent interactivity and learning progress.

Lessons Learned
The ideas that evolved regarding masks and virtual learning, represented the best thinking from an antiquated system that ran into an ultra-modern crisis. Arguing whether health and safety issues should be governed by established learning practices completely misses the point of students’ emotional needs! The point is that a student’s cry for help is not necessarily based on academic challenges. Learning can be hard. Being ill-equipped to navigate emotionally, as well as how to connect culturally, eventually creates emotional wreckage.

Lessons through a Social Emotional Learning lens emphasize that children need to feel comfortable and confident to navigate their social challenges. Social comfort and personal confidence facilitate better learning environments. Social comfort extends beyond having friends in the classroom. Its power resides in the comfort level that individual youth embrace when encountering new experiences. Fundamentally, educating youth involves a sense of wonder and a sense of comfort. Fear is the enemy of open minds. In developing students in foreign environments, either remote or in person, new barriers and restrictions facilitate classrooms that become ripe with fear, inequality, and societal pressures. Illness becomes a refuge of certainty. The problem now becomes facilitating lessons that emphasize embracing challenges as learning opportunities. Unfortunately fear and uncertainty run rampant in an environment where institutions and health seem to cripple the security where learning best occurs.

Progress Revisited
In environments that demanded individual growth, many schools dragged through an atmosphere full of collective fear and uncertainty. Often, the next growth step was treacherous. Social pressure, illness, individual isolation, all interacted to limit individual student growth. To refresh learning and growth, school environments must embrace new ideas. When the most prevalent obstacles involve contagion, uncertainty and cultural attacks, then individual and emotional stability is impossible. Progress is no longer matriculating to the next grade. Progress relies more on children continuing on a path that embraces intellectual and social growth. Progress is having the mental and psychological faculties to engage the next learning level.

Unfortunately, what too many school communities have found in recent environments is diversity represented in an unattractive fashion. Diversity is not necessarily new points of views, but rather pointing fingers at different points of view. The big, hairy obstacle is maintaining positive self-esteem among students, as well as families, while students persevere through an inconsistent school environment. Lesson plans, virtual or physical learning environments, and minimized extracurricular activities, as well as peer camaraderie have all been compromised. Recapturing progress first means revisiting academic processes. Holding a child back scholastically because of illness, fear, or embraced apathy now results in blending multiple ages in a classroom. Who wins the tie regarding consistency: academic progress, social progress, or age progress? Factor in a pandemic where attendance became a wild card, and the distinction between academic preparedness stretches academically and genealogically.

Conclusion
Assuming that successful academic progress is the ultimate goal, then competence is logically achieved at the grade level where the youth participates. Age differences become a factor that must be navigated. However, these factors do not occur in isolation. Lack of academic progress can align with anger management from a home that endured illness and financial sufferings. The choices are difficult. Unfortunately, the process of incarcerating maladjusted young adults who had their social-emotional needs ignored because they were inconvenient, creates a much larger societal problem. Incorporating emotional and cultural self-care skills among students, teachers, and administrators will benefit entire school communities. Aligning maturity and intellect need to be drivers for progress. At this point in history an age-based academic system where youth endured assorted trauma from institutions, peers, and unprecedented home dysfunction, only creates opportunity for tension to escalate. Aligning academic progress with Social Emotional Learning gives students the best chance of personal growth in a system that prioritizes their individual development.

By Glenn W Hunter
Author of “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements”
Chair, Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To Donate Please Click: www.tyrs.org

Click Below To Buy “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements

August 4, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

Perseverance is Power, Knowledge Steers

The old saying states that “Knowledge is Power’. However, in our constantly changing world even knowledge’s role evolves. “Perseverance is power!” Effective immediately, knowledge has assumed a diminished role! To create momentum and ultimately progress, the ability to continue performing results in value, influence and growth. Knowledge still has a meaningful purpose. Its purpose is to ensure that mental energy and information grows in a positive direction. Knowledge steers this incredible, positive force!

Knowledge 

American school systems provide 13 years of education in a typical K-12 system. Skills like reading, writing and arithmetic represent the classic tools that students receive. These skills remain a baseline, but the ability to grow those skills, integrate new skills, and synthesize deeper thinking eventually facilitate more powerful outcomes. The challenge is that these additional skills are not successfully emphasized nor distributed across the American cultural spectrum. More knowledge is undoubtedly good. Still, too many young people learned basic skills and declared that they have sufficiently learned. Whether no one corrected this common misconception, or the youth were ill-equipped to grasp the requirements of their education, they were wrong. Subsequently, the ability to facilitate learning growth through additional empowerment became a benefit directly related to additional privilege. The less privileged students across the spectrum neglected to continue expanding their learning at a comparable pace.

Perseverance

However, for those students that were coerced, incented, or privileged enough to pursue learning with rigor acquired more advantages than just more information. The additional knowledge bestowed a certain amount of direction. Furthermore, the lessons from perseverance imputed incremental benefits of confidence and power. Additional knowledge did not simply mean more information. When combined with perseverance the ability to synthesize and grow their intellectual foundation resulted in new experiences. Furthermore, it manifested a larger worldview. An urban elementary school kid with good grades may leverage his ability to advance learning within his community. Meanwhile a stereotypical suburban youth with the same prowess has a path for additional learning in other communities, perhaps through specialized programs, or by international exposure. In both cases, the knowledge steered them out of their immediate environment. The order of magnitude varied! Knowledge with perseverance opens windows and doors for advancement where less privileged opportunities merely take their knowledge to another closed off room.

Conclusion

Ultimately, knowledge is dynamic. For learners of all categories to benefit from assorted educational opportunities, incremental lessons need to be accompanied by encouragement and accolades. The victory is not the best grade today. True victory is the opportunity to benefit more from increased competition. Who really wants to be the smartest sixth grader in their school, when the rest of the world presents so many more opportunities for growth? Perseverance in gaining more knowledge is the power that truly makes the difference. For curious learners, doubling down on perseverance requires being surrounded by better minds, as well as better information. Individuals who want more, will find more, do more, then apply more! Next, they repeat! Knowledge has its advantages. It steers toward unimagined value. Yet, perseverance provides power to exceed the wildest ambitions!

By Glenn W. Hunter

Board Chairman, Touchstone Youth Resource Services

Learn more about social emotional learning, or to donate go to TYRS.org

December 31, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Normal, New Dysfunction

Somewhere in America, from a freshly redecorated home office, an employee communicates with a multi-tasking boss overseeing multiple employees under her watch, and her children who cannot be fired! With evolving telecommunication technology, remote workers can create visual facades and silence background family arguments in order to demonstrate professionalism. Parents have threatened children and placated customers simultaneously since the hold button first entered the workforce decades ago. The New Normal’s challenge is that these two important responsibilities now intersect because a pandemic has caused domestic and professional roles to collide shamelessly in the same physical space. 

NEW NORMAL

Regardless of the environment, workers must find a way to get along. Despite numerous concerns of technological disruption within our work world, a physical virus completely disrupts how workplaces operate. A familiar refrain delivers a stark reminder of the new reality: “The virus is in the driver’s seat.” Consequently, the workplace continues to evolve, largely as a result of a microscopic adversary. Physical distancing is now a counter-intuitive, yet important, component of human interaction. Nevertheless, functional human connectivity remains essential to most job performance. So, what coping skills are necessary to influence and impact this new reality where people yearn to connect, just not closely?

A paradoxical, yet important, part of workplace interaction, as well as school environments, recognizes that maximum productivity involves both communal and individual performance. Successful people functionally cooperate! In virtual environments, individual performance appears to be easier considering that most likely workers are in an environment without interrupting colleagues. Nevertheless, too often personal lives collide with the reality that multi-generational families are confined to one dwelling unit. Less traffic may be in the environment, but more people, including students and the elderly occupy that space. Sometimes, families benefit from the availability of extra contributors for academic and professional purposes. However, virtual work’s urgency creates ongoing pressure that the next family emergency or outburst can put undeniable strain on the primary breadwinner’s professionalism. 

NEW DYSFUNCTION

Vulnerability to concurrently combining professional and personal responsibilities are hard enough when priorities across generations can erupt at any time. But, the vulnerability has new, heightened urgency when it involves colleagues peeking into your home life. Regardless of the workstation and the work-life balance that a diligent worker displays in their presentation, inevitably, a personally improper conversation will be overheard, or an indiscrete family member will wander too close to the lens during a video conference.

Furthermore, realize that the video lens goes both ways. What are the consequences of a team leader revealing human indiscretions within their household, or personal space? Realistically, Vice-Presidents have family members of all ages in their household that may not care about discretion, too. From a social emotional perspective, an untimely revelation can lead to shame and lack of confidence. Some personal weaknesses should not be exposed. Subsequent judgment of underlings may also compromise a leader’s authority and performance. To combat effectively these threats in a practical sense, employees of assorted ranks need to acknowledge the potential of family-based indiscretions disrupting professional interactions. Proactively, embrace the power of empathy!

CONCLUSION

New Normal still means dealing with people. If colleagues are incompatible they are not going to like each other more because one set of kids has more trophies. In the event that best buds are involved, they are not going to like each other less because one has a child that is an emotional wreck and now everyone has seen it. Most importantly, virtual employees, like live employees, have a job to do! Then, stakes elevate upon realizing that jobs are not necessarily easy to keep. Nor, are they necessarily easy to find. Ultimately, workers in this environment have to confront dysfunction, anxiety, and uncertainty. Manage situations with empathy. Regardless of age, developing coping skills leads to more functional performance. Empathy makes the insanity more bearable. Listening becomes an empowering tool. Such positive examples travel well whether employees are in their house, or the downtown office. Better performance happens when people cooperate and collaborate. Teamwork makes the dream work!

By Glenn W Hunter

Chair, Board of Directors, Touchstone Youth Resource Services
Learn more about social emotional learning, or to donate go to TYRS.org

December 24, 2020 Posted by | Better Business, Better Communication, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Communication Using Compassion or Engagement?

Why do so many people talk and relatively few communicate? Verbal communication is relatively straightforward. A person speaks. Another person listens. Optimally, they are using the same language. But, even without a common language, grunts, expression and gestures can often carry the point. Still, what happens when essential communication is required? What occurs when a point must truly be made?

Urgency suggests two communication approaches emerge: Compassion and Engagement. Although many approaches are available, these two work well because they involve the emotional connection that best serves effective communication. If an idea is being communicated, then the associated emotion contributes to context.

Compassion

Communication with a sense of compassion reinforces the emotional component that facilitates transferring ideas. Compassion is best described as experiencing with your heart, as well as your ears. In return, the other party has the option of continuing the conversation with an emotional foundation. Feelings matter! The advantage through this verbal mechanism is creating support for an idea, a sentiment, or participation.

The advantage of sharing feelings in conjunction with the knowledge or point is that the emotion reinforces understanding. An infant demonstrates this point through various levels of crying: whimpering and wailing communicate very different messages. Additionally, school- aged children show this point as they respond to instruction. Children respond to praise and punishment based on the teacher’s attitude in delivering these responses. Is the teacher joyful in giving praise or treating it like an obligation? A child can tell the difference. Obedience by obligation is never genuine.

Engagement

Another facet of the communication jewel is engagement. In engagement the transceiver and recipient are bound in mutual benefit. Engagement goes beyond an emotional connection and can transcend into an intellectual connection. Engagement occurs best when the communication clearly involves vocabulary, voice inflection, and visual cues. Multiple senses and channels are involved in transferring information to maximize communication.

Engagement equally emphasizes the speaker and listener. Engagement features listening with ears, eyes and heart. Engagement is established with the intent of being understood and the expectation of sincere response. Engagement’s power resides in the expectation and establishment of a meaningful dialogue. Returning to learning environments, engagement comes equipped with the expectation of understanding, in addition to facilitating more communication to ensure better understanding. Engagement maximizes understanding by establishing the framework at the beginning.

Conclusion

These nuanced communication techniques are essential in elevating intellectual and emotional comprehension. Creating an environment where more understanding occurs enhances the learning environment, as well as inspires additional learning. The joy of learning is not a student’s transition to better English skills. The joy of learning is transcending to the point that an appetite for more knowledge emerges. Fundamentally, communicating with engagement elevates the joy of intellectual growth. Engagement inspires growth and cognitive development between teachers and listeners. Essentially, engagement facilitates educating more broadly and inclusively. Consequently, we all grow.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services

To learn more about social emotional learning, or donate go to TYRS.org

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment