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24 March 2022

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

  • Student Wellbeing

Turn and face the strange, (D. Bowie)

Times of change, can actually be just plain stressful. Not all negative stress; there are often positive experiences we have while learning the new, however it can be challenging. For some of us, challenging is an understatement.

What types of change are you experiencing?

It may come with the new year; a continuation of schooling. New teacher or boss, different cohort and new room. It may be that you have just moved schools, or that you are starting a new job. Perhaps you have experienced multiple changes at one time, compounding the ‘new’ stressors all at once. Some people like a busy plate, with lots to do. I like the saying (however, outdated it is), ‘If you want a job done quickly, give it to a busy mother’. Mostly because I think of my own mother, who was quite apt at completing an eye watering number of tasks each day.

Why do we experience change? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines change as a verb; meaning to alter, transform or switch. In a school context, there is a vast amount of change happening as educators seek to incorporate best practice into their teaching. However, negative change can push us far out of our comfort zone, and cause us distress, when all we want is normality. The COVID restrictions are a prime example of change that feels as though the peace train has been derailed. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave nor forsake you.”

There is something here that is easy to miss. “Do not be afraid… the Lord your God goes with you…” I may be stressed out, however the fact remains that God is constant, and He will never leave nor forsake you or me.

An excellent way of looking at the stress that comes with change is in the skill of problem solving. Michael Fullan, a leading expert on change, discusses the issue of seeking the new and exciting innovation as counterproductive. Instead, we need to develop our capacity to solve complex problems and build a culture in ourselves, and our community that support change. Peter Senge extends this thinking by suggesting; to excel, an organisation needs to utilise each person and their commitment to the change. Jesus is an excellent example of a teacher who is working tirelessly to upskill his disciples (students). He washes their feet, just to illustrate a point!

The first piece of advice I would offer comes from Albert Einstein - Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. Let us take a moment to analyse some experience of change that we have had or are experiencing currently. Can you point out a way you contributed to the ‘problem’ side of the change? Just sitting in my study and having a minutes thought on this, I can think of a few situations where this is true for me. Even the stressful adjustment to online learning that came with the start of the year. I spent more time that was healthy bemoaning the new conditions for my work than was needed. It didn’t help me do any work, it actually slowed me down.

In the Bible, James paints change in an extraordinary way, “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4. Persistence means to do something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

Where do you stand when change feels like a storm is raging around you? Firmly built on the rock of God? Or sinking in the sand? There is good fruit to be had. God IS with you. You are going to be more mature, and (moving towards) not lacking anything! Perspective is a choice. Find joy in the challenges and trust in God. Get back on the peace train.

Jeremiah 29:11, James 1:17, Isaiah 43:19, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

God bless,

Jordan Wheatcroft
Student Wellbeing Counsellor