Dr. Grauer's Column - Resiliency 2020
(A Letter to Grauer Students and everyone else)
The Grauer School's weekly assemblies on Tuesdays are a special part of the school's community, and we don't want to miss that feeling of togetherness that we all get as we gather all the students and staff together each week. Since we can't gather in large groups due to the pandemic, the school holds virtual assemblies in smaller groups every Tuesday after lunch. Assemblies always begin with a message from Dr. Stuart Grauer, and this was his message to the students for Tuesday, December 8. You can read the text of his message in this column, or watch Dr. Grauer's video message by clicking on the image below.
Hi Grauer Students,
This is your holiday message, and I’m going to talk about our core value of perseverance, which I also call resiliency. At our school, I hope we are here to live out our values, right down to our core. Period. That’s why we’re here. To study values.
I guess we all define happiness differently, but this much I know: you can be in your dream world, with friendly people who love you and give you beautiful things, and flatter you; there you are in the land of Hanalei, with pink fluffy bunnies running all around in sunshine, and puppies, or whatever, and with straight A grades—and you can be completely miserable. Happiness and success are determined 100% not by the bunnies, or the puppies or the A grades, but by a grapefruit-sized grey thing that is between - your - ears. That’s basic.
Maybe you were taught to see reading as the basic skill in school, or math. But did you know Resiliency and your simple determination to succeed are even more basic skills of all happy people. Happiness is a skill you practice. Being Resilient, not feeling defeated or beaten, hanging in there, requires practice, not puppies. This practice is an absolute must in every class you take, it should be your only real homework! Especially in a pandemic.
Resilience means pressing on, knowing you will do this, keeping your spirits up. Resilience is the difference between just sort of existing day to day—and getting up in the morning and knowing you are thriving today. You got this! If you are living in poverty, or have major barriers to learning, or if you are experiencing traumas, resilience may be the skill that makes all the difference. But even for your typical everyday student and teacher, it is basic and the essence of your success.
Okay: Here is a proven, researched fact of the day:
You are capable of much more than you know.
And that capability is not delivered to you by the bunnies,
Or the praise or the grades.
It is simply the message your heart sends to your head! This is probably the most amazing physiological fact I know: your heart actually sends constant messages to your head. Resilience and joy are the messages your heart sends to your head.
At Grauer, every one of your teachers cares enormously about your resiliency—and they care about it more than your grades. They care about your heart. That’s why we have core values groups weekly, and why we keep taking evals. As teachers, we love our academic subjects of science, social studies, English, math, etc. But we are not the catcher in the rye, we can’t stop you from being unhappy: you have to make up your own mind, every day, to be happy, to stick with it, or to have fun!
Let me prove that to you. One year ago, we were in a time where everything seemed at our fingertips, and the experience of struggle seemed like a problem—we didn’t have pandemics, we’d hardly heard of that. One year ago, our biggest problems in school were too much screentime, or friends who didn’t understand us, or stress, or too much homework.
Now, we are 9 months into the world’s greatest pandemic, and here are our biggest problems in school: too much screentime, or friends who don’t understand us, or stress, or too much homework. The resilient students were happy then and they are still happy—the stress cases are still stressed, unless they have changed their own minds. So, how resilient are you?
You get to decide that. Your parents can’t give it or take it away. It’s your happiness.
At Grauer, we are a strong culture—you students are STRONG. Want evidence? We can test 100% negative against the virus so far when no other school can or has, so far. This is amazing evidence of a STRONG culture AND great HABITS—students who really care about one another and about our community. Students with big hearts—students who listen, and who try—not that we will never slip up.
But you are rising to this challenge really well and now the vaccines are coming on the market. You are wearing the masks, you are staying safe, you’re getting your work done, you are making choices, you will get us through this!
Plus, you managed to get a 9:00 AM start time for school. Nice going! I think this shows resilience and strength and maybe even some cunning on your parts. Nice going!
In many schools, things like Perseverance and Resiliency and other “evals” are seen as personal, internal experiences, not about a part of school or grades. That’s too bad. Grauer teachers love evaluative grades and know they are a central to your education.
They talk about your values because they know: your success is on you. And you are doing it. You are showing up at office hours. You are attending live classes every chance you get. You are prepping for finals you care about.
This is your success.
One final note: Likewise, it is also your struggle.
Even in a pandemic, the greatest of all the successes comes from the beauty of the struggle. We get it: this is a struggle. This can be tough. This can happen. We are here for you 100%!
But you are up to this. We are going to get through and be even better.
We dig back in, every day, every time—we are not defeated.
In life, the optimists win. Period, end of conversation: optimists win. The believers succeed, and are happy: there is almost endless research proving this. I believe in you. Your teachers believe in you and in one another.
Your teacher can’t cure the coronavirus, take finals, or open up sports fields. But we can stand by you and we really, really believe in you.
That belief is our ultimate superpower—the simple belief that you will have success, you will prevail against odds. Your best teachers and friends are the ones who believe in you the most, who have your back. You know it. Believe in yourselves. We can be optimists together.
Yes, it’s work. It can get hard. It can be tiring. That’s what happiness and success look like when you are after them. They look like: resilience.
Happy holiday times. Welcome to the best time of the year.
And now, I am going to leave you with a simple year-end question: What action can you take to strengthen your emotional resilience or optimism in these tough times?
Dr. Grauer wants to hear from his readers. Please click on the "Comments" drop-down box below to leave a comment about this column!
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