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Teachers – I see you. My name is Sarah Scott Dooling, and I am a licensed clinical social worker and a registered play therapist. You’re out there teaching kids how to read, write, think critically, ride big waves of feelings and navigate a complicated, chaotic & unpredictable world. You’re advocating, crisis-intervening, curriculum mapping, collaborating, data collecting, modifying, problem-solving, going in early, staying late and SO much more. You want to give kids what they need, a dose of delight. It’s not that simple, though.

You have an unbearable amount of pressure on you. All kinds of stakeholders insist and demand that you make learning accessible, interactive, rigorous, engaging, fun, and on and ON. And they want you to do all of that while you also juggle one too many adjunct duties.

All day long you help students feel seen, heard, safe and valued. It is breathtakingly beautiful and important work. You are delivering high quality, desperately-needed, restorative experiences to students every single time you interact with them. It’s who you are; it’s how you move through the world.

Relationships Heal

Relationships heal. Relationships restore. And relationships are cultivated all OVER a school campus. At the four-square court, in the lunch line, on the soccer field, in the nurse’s office, the counseling office, the classroom, a long-distance high-five from across the playground – these things all provide awesome bursts of connection, joy and safety.

The reliable, safe, and meaningful connections you provide to students during these unsettling and unpredictable times is what matters the most. Your connection bursts help to improve learning outcomes. We can’t learn until we feel safe. Relationships and connections help us feel safe. Keep helping students feel seen, heard, safe and valued. Most ESPECIALLY on the days when they are tearing up a classroom, walking off campus or refusing to do class work.

The students we serve come to school carrying the massive weight of systemic racism, poverty, community violence, family violence, limited access to healthcare, inadequate childcare, and a multitude of other risk factors. So how can we support them? Where do we start? How can we mitigate all that risk so that they can be available to learn?

Spoiler alert: it’s complicated.

30 Second Dose of Delight

But here’s some good news. Giving out high-frequent bursts of comfort and connection can be an absolute game-changer for kids! It’s a massive protective factor. It can help weigh out the multitude of risk factors that are facing students. It’s downright nourishing for their hearts, minds, bodies and souls. And you only need to start by committing to 30 seconds a day!

The 30 Second Dose of Delight is a strategy you can start using right away. Here’s how it works – for 30 seconds, let joy and delight spill out of you while you interact with the child in front of you.

Let students SEE and FEEL how excited you are when they walk into the room (or pop onto your screen). Maybe your eyes light up, you probably gasp a little, maybe you even say “I’m SO happy to see you!” (and you really mean it, and they can tell that you mean it). Delight in them. I know it’s not easy. Sometimes it feels downright impossible. Start with one or two students. Commit to giving them a dose of delight once a day. Help them feel like they brighten up the whole room.

Maybe you share with them something you remember about your time together. It might sound like this, “I was thinking about last week when you were telling those ‘knock knock’ jokes. Dang! Those were some funny jokes.” Maybe you notice the way they helped another student who was struggling.

I see you. You matter. I’m curious about you. Show them THAT.

So, go ahead – give it a try! Treat your kids, students, and clients to high-frequent, restorative, desperately-needed doses of delight.

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