What I’m Working on this Week

Oh, that’s simple. Ergonomics. After a solid week of working from home, my back and neck feel constantly a little sore. I’ve been working a job of some sort since I was 18, and some of those jobs entailed manual labor. I have never experienced physical pain as the result of work. Until now.

This week, I’ll be giving the tips in this article a try. I hope you’ll consider them, as well, and please share your own tips and tricks.

This week was hard, but this week I loved anyway . . .

  1. Fixing a printer with my daughter. The look on her face when it actually worked.
  2. Listening to old Built to Spill songs, especially the long ones.
  3. Reading Charles Portis novels after 5. Just a few pages at a time to draw a line between the workday and the rest of the day.
  4. That being home all day means seeing all the trees and flowers coming into bloom. That each day the progress is noticeable, although I never noticed that before.
  5. Turning on the television at night and watching whatever is on for a few minutes.
  6. New Waxahatchee music called St. Cloud.
  7. Talking on the phone with people.
  8. Texting a lot more with certain friends.
  9. Having lunch each day with my family.
  10. Hearing my kids (through the walls) talking with their teachers and their friends.
  11. Student thinking making itself visible in new ways.
  12. Asking how can I? about 5 times a day and usually finding a good enough way.
  13. Emailing with Dan about music.
  14. Chicken dinner, Wednesday night.
  15. Starting a new, small writing project with Eric and Reshan.
  16. Waking up slowly. Not having to rush through the morning just to rush through the day.
  17. The voices of people showing up in all kinds of new ways.
  18. My daughter’s advisor saying through a videoconference: “keep growing your friendships, your creativity, your hearts.”
  19. That good enough is good enough.

Online Teaching, Day 1

I’m using a Do First, Do In-Class, Do After-Class, and Notes template to run my class. Also, I’m trying to think about how class can be enhanced because we’re not all in the same room. Using the word “enhanced” causes me to step right over the word “different.” I know it’s going to be different. I want it to have some potency and some vigor. Easier said than done!

New Terms for New Times

… and, admittedly, some old times, too. The terms “emotional” and “affective” labor come to me from Lee Skallerup Bessette’s Educase article called “Affective Labor: The Need for, and Cost of, Workplace Equanimity.”

In her groundbreaking book, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild defines emotional labor as work that is done to “induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others.” Her book is foundational for understanding emotional and affective labor. It also perfectly describes the kind of intensive work we have been asked to perform these past few weeks, as well as the kind of labor we typically and invisibly do even in less stressful periods.

Hold onto these terms when you’re feeling challenged. If you’re a leader or a partner, you obviously have a responsibility to manage your feelings, and you know that. But the deeper why is that the outward expression of your feelings often function as dominoes for the feelings of others. You know that, too, but you probably forget it from time to time.

Crisis Communicators

Whether we run a school, a small business, or a family, we’re all crisis communicators right now. On that front, I’m sharing below some of the best advice I’ve heard, all from sources I trusted and consulted way before COVID-19. After noting each source, I pulled a quotation from each article.


Source: Ewan McIntosh and this article, How to Communicate in a Crisis.

Your choice of behaviour needn’t be improvised. Go to your organisation’s core values — its moral system — and show that you trust them to see you through. If your core values don’t help in a crisis, they’re not core values. They should help you make decisions, quickly, and have great confidence that the decisions are probably right.

Source: Nick Morgan and this article, Communication in the Time of Coronavirus.

If you want to come through this weird time with your soul intact, you need to be able to look back and know that you treated your fellow human beings with patience and – especially – kindness.  This virus is an equal-opportunity equalizer, and you will be tested by your ability to shed your prejudices, fears, and bad old habits to see if you can rise to the occasion and bring out the best in yourself and the people around you.

Source: Duarte and this article, 10 Ways to Communicate with Empathy and Authority in Times of Crisis.

Why do we discuss empathy BEFORE Authority? At Duarte, we’ve learned that your audience is more likely to listen to what you have to say when they feel you’re on their side. Through empathy, you earn the permission and authority to lead them. So what does authority mean right now? It means leading your team in a way that makes them feel confident in your message and trusting in you as a leader.