Imagine stepping into a room filled with educators, both experienced and new to the profession. During the last period of the day, a powerful exercise called the “Feelings Floor Check” is underway. As a pulse check activity, it brings seven teachers together to explore their emotions and foster a sense of connection and empathy. As a facilitator of this transformative process, I witnessed a remarkable exchange that unfolded within the group.
A Safe Space for Vulnerability
As the activity began, the first-year teachers positioned themselves near feeling words such as sad, bad, or fearful, while the more experienced teachers gravitated towards the inclusive “other” card, representing emotions that defy categorization. One courageous educator expressed feeling a mix of emotions, explaining how different situations and times of the day could evoke various feelings. A brief moment of shared laughter eased the tension, setting the stage for a deeply supportive exchange.
Sharing Burdens and Triumphs
Moved by the atmosphere of understanding, one of the first-year teachers bravely raised her hand, signaling her need to unburden herself. She candidly admitted to feeling bad, overwhelmed by the mistakes she believed she had made with her students, fearing that she had irreparably affected their lives. Her two fellow first-year teachers empathetically nodded in agreement, acknowledging the struggle of facing students after making errors. Negative emotions were openly expressed, fostering a sense of shared vulnerability.
Wisdom from the Community
Drawing on their collective experience, the seasoned educators closed the distance between themselves and the younger teachers. A veteran educator with 26 years of teaching compassionately shared her memories of making countless mistakes during her first year, expecting the principal to intervene and dismiss her. Another experienced teacher reassured the first-year cohort that making mistakes during the initial years was a natural part of the learning process. A collective sigh of relief ensued as the younger teachers felt comforted by the nurturing presence of their more experienced peers.
Supporting Each Other
Moved by the genuine display of care, the last remaining young educator found her voice, prompting the seasoned teachers to gather around and envelop the younger ones in a literal embrace. Tears flowed freely, underscoring the depth of emotions evoked by this profound exchange. The power of shame was skillfully managed within the supportive confines of the community.
A Renewed Sense of Purpose
As the session concluded, the room gradually emptied, but not before one seasoned educator shared a revelation with her colleague. She confessed that she had contemplated not returning for another year, but a higher power had intervened, showing her a greater purpose. Pointing towards the younger educators, she acknowledged how this transformative experience had solidified her commitment to teaching and affirmed her role in supporting the next generation of educators.
Through the “Feelings Floor Check,” educators can find solace, reassurance, and renewed purpose by creating a safe space for vulnerability, fostering empathy, and sharing collective experiences. The journey of teaching is one filled with challenges, mistakes, and growth, and it is through the support of a nurturing community that educators can thrive and positively impact the lives of their students.
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