The Power of Pausing

By Meredith Monk Ford
Executive Director 

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did what other clueless new mothers do – I researched. I read everything I could find about the abundant theories and practices for raising a content, resilient, and independent child. As educators, my husband and I were determined to raise the kind of children we would have enjoyed teaching – you know the students whose parents you wish could raise your own children?  We aspired to be those kinds of parents.

Of everything I read, “Bringing Up Bebe” by an American journalist living in France resonated the most. She wanted to know why French children seemed to sleep through the night earlier than other children (as well as eat whatever they’re given, and more easily work things out for themselves). While every parent finds the approach that is right for them, this book felt like the right fit for us.

Like many parents, our first reaction when our son started crying in the middle of the night was to jump out of bed, rush in, pick him up, and try to soothe him back to sleep. Had we been French, though, we would have taken “le pause” – according to Pamela Druckerman. When their infants cry, many French parents wait just a moment. They don’t ignore a baby’s cries, instead, they observe the child to make sure they are safe and then assess what might be wrong. They give their child the space to fall back to sleep on their own before stepping in to soothe them.

Why was I reminded of this today, during a three day holiday?

This weekend is usually a natural pause for all of us. Usually. It’s a moment to remember and be grateful for the sacrifices of those who have served to protect us. It’s also a transition to warmer weather, summer activities, and the winding down of the school year, giving us a moment of rest to stop, observe, and contemplate.

But then there’s this Memorial Day. We have all been going non-stop since March. We are missing the familiar rituals that celebrate our students’ achievements and our transition to the slower pace of summer (knowing that there probably won’t be a slower pace this summer). We are regularly dealing with the heightened emotions and anxiety of students, faculty, and families still trying to plan for and anticipate an unknown future.

Like an infant waking up in a dark room in the middle of the night.

And I was reminded of “le pause.”

Because of the emotional seesaw that faculty are on, we need to support them by creating time for those moments of safety and self-discovery. We need to observe and make sure that nothing is seriously wrong. Then, we should give them the space to figure out how to move forward – through reflection.

Dave Mochel, the presenter at last Wednesday’s Folio Town Hall, offered some fantastic, practical tips for how we can create the intentionality required for meaningful pause and reflection. A summary of Dave’s presentation is posted here.

Before you ask your faculty to reflect, start with yourself. This practice could begin with some physical centering, coming into a realization about your posture and physical position. Or perhaps begin with an expression of gratitude – to the people on your team who have been amazing contributors or to friends or family that have helped you. To make the practice more meaningful, share your learning with your faculty.  Model how your reflections will make you a more informed and better leader as you plan for the future.

To help you and your faculty with reflection, Folio has introduced two new features to our platform to encourage and support reflection. The Mindful Minute and The Self Reflection Year End Summary Note – making it more convenient for teachers to pause and reflect and capture their learning in a place that will be easier to find in the fall. More information about these features is below.

I hope you were able to find some moments of calm and reflection this past weekend.