The Monday after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was full of uncertainty in elementary classrooms across the country. As children in mine shared their feelings during morning meeting, it became clear that (unsurprisingly) they were feeling a tremendous range of emotions – some of which they surely had difficulty even putting a name to: Sadness, fear, and confusion topped the list. There were also students who voiced a shadow of guilt as they talked about the laughter and joy they’d experienced at birthday parties or other adventures over the weekend.
This led me to think a lot about, and eventually share with them, what I believe to be one of the best ways we can truly, daily, lastingly honor the memory of the 26 lives lost that day: and that is to live and love vulnerably, whole-heartedly, and authentically…with profound gratitude, connection, and joy.
I invite you to watch Brené Brown’s TED talk on the power of vulnerability and living whole-heartedly.
I pulled out some sound bytes that I intend to soak in more deeply in the coming days, weeks, and months:
- The root of the word “courage” is the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage literally had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
- Authenticity is the willingness to let go of who you think you should be to embrace who you are.
- Vulnerability is not always comfortable or enjoyable but it is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.
- Children don’t need to be treated as, or made, perfect. They are imperfect, wired for struggle, but are incredibly worthy of love and belonging. We can give them belief in their worthiness.
- Let yourselves be deeply seen, love and care with your whole hearts, practice gratitude, lean into joy, and believe that you are enough.
I truly believe that if we are willing to be authentic, vulnerable, open-to-struggle-and-failure, whole-hearted teachers and people that there is hope that the children we teach will be able to create a different world. In doing so, we become kinder and gentler with ourselves, and kinder and gentler with each other and children. May such teaching, living, and caring truly honor the memory of the children and educators lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as well as those who struggle on without them. May such profound belief in the worthiness of each child color their future with the pursuit of whole-hearted living as well. You are each, and we together, enough to make a difference.