This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, and April is Autism Acceptance Month. These occasions give us an opportunity to “challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.” I want to take a moment to share about my own autism diagnosis. At 35 years old I have confirmed, through a formal diagnosis, something I have suspected for years. I am autistic. Here’s what I need you to know…
For educators in a pandemic, our greatest priority is not academic progress, but social and emotional well-being. You have likely spent the last year under intense pressure trying to do anything you can to make a difference. Have your efforts closed the achievement gap? Should they be expected to? No, of course not. In everything you do, you have shown kids that they belong, that someone cares for them, that they are worth all your effort, and that you want them to be safe. That is the primary mandate of the educator. Only then will academic progress follow.
Leadership in times of crisis reminds us how challenging it is to manage your own stress while supporting others. While much of the world is sheltering in place or physically distancing themselves from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many people are finding themselves unemployed or facing incredible uncertainty. How we lead in moments like this can significantly impact the lives of others. How do we manage our own stress and anxiety with the weight of this responsibility? Here are a few things I am working on:
As I emerge from the train station in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, my senses are overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, and smells of a bustling neighborhood. I’m in the Mission to provide coaching support to a program director at one of the community-based organizations in the neighborhood.
The Mission District is changing. The effects of gentrification and the housing crisis are visible everywhere. All my coaching clients in the neighborhood frequently mention the fears, vulnerability and active resistance of the immigrant community here. They do important and challenging work, and I’m painfully aware of my status as an outsider. So I step lightly, listen carefully and avoid giving any advice too quickly.