The importance of unbounded enthusiasm.
The necessity for hope.
It matters where we place our priorities.
The truth is, these were not lessons I learned this week. I've known this for a long time; it just seemed that events of this week were potent reminders. In the midst of the death and destruction of the tornadoes in Mississippi and the south, the fires and drought in Texas (where my family and friends live), and the long, difficult days of the accreditation visit this week, there have been moments so beautiful and poignant that it has brought tears to my eyes.
The validation of all of our hard work on the MSW program--an incredibly positive and powerful exit interview citing multiple strengths and 0 concerns--yesterday morning began a work day that had dawned full of blue clear skies, sunshine, and birds singing--stark contrast to the black skies, winds and rain, and continuous sirens of Wednesday. As I sat there, surrounded by my colleagues whom I have come to admire, respect, value, and love, there were moments when I was teary-eyed as I listened to the site team list the strengths of our program, and to know that I had been a part of helping to create that program.
At 1, I went over to evaluate the first of the students who are doing the final project in class: facilitating a task group. Even though I tell them that every group always is able to do it, they still worry, and are anxious. When the group is complete, I move into their circle, ask them how they felt about it, their strengths and accomplishments, what they learned they will need in future groups, and then, I share my feedback of how I have seen the group.
I always tell them in this final project that I will pick their group, and I put the students I want in that group. I don't tell them why, but I tell them they will be able to figure it out. At the end of the group yesterday, one of the students shared her observation of who was in the group, and what she noticed, and asked if that was the reason. She was right--and I reminded them not to share that insight with the other groups yet to come, as it was important learning for the group to discover that on their own.
It is always one of those "Kodak moments" for me at that time. As I listened to the members share their experience of the group, and see what they have learned and are able to do, and how excited they are about that realization, I feel so blessed to be a part of educating social workers. I feel so hopeful about the future of this state as I see these students moving forward with their enthusiasm and energy and passion and commitment--and yes, their knowledge and skills and values. I see how far they have come from the first time I taught them to now, whether it has been in several classes, or just this one. I share the strengths I see in each of them, and acknowledge how much I learn from them, and how it affects my professional and personal growth. I always get teary-eyed at that point, as I realize how important they are to me and my work, my life, and my commitment to making a difference. They keep me humble because the more I teach, the more I learn.