Lower School Reflections: From the Desk of Dr. Gosnell

Published On: June 2nd, 2022 | Categories: Food for Thought |

June 2022

It’s exciting to be back on campus! I appreciate the team effort while I was gone, with such a supportive Head of School and amazingly talented and dedicated faculty. I am especially grateful to Ms. Megeath for her willingness to step in and provide such strong and experienced leadership in my absence. It is because of her that I was able to be fully present with my family. I am also thankful for the warm welcome that I have received this week. It has been wonderful to see all of the students again!

In many ways, I feel like I just jumped on a train moving full speed ahead as we quickly approach the end of the school year. Endings offer the opportunity for new beginnings. Thankfully, with time to rest for teachers and students alike, we will all be able to all catch our breath and think about what we would do the same and what creative risks we might take in the future.

As we allow ourselves time and space, we open our minds to new possibilities. Creative risk-taking requires a willingness to fail. Culturally, failure can be a tough pill to swallow. However, if we are truthful and reflective, it is common for us to make mistakes. When we try something new, even though we know it could go sideways, the choice to embrace potential failure is actually quite brave.

I recently listened to this podcast episode and highly recommend it: WorkLife with Adam Grant: Breaking Up with Perfectionism on Apple Podcasts. The podcast prompted me to think about what prevents us from taking creative risks. If we are regularly willing to push ourselves out of our comfort zones as parents, teachers, and students, we can expect to fail in small and not-so-small ways. When we are fearful of going out on a limb, it is often because we are overly focused on our own deficits, perceived shortcomings, and the image we want to project.

However, when we are willing to reflect on our own failures from a place of mindfulness, kindness, and shared humanity (the recipe for self-compassion), we are better able to hold ourselves accountable and set a good example for others. The podcast suggested an exercise to help shift to a culture that tolerates and even celebrates imperfection. On a weekly basis, with your colleagues, students, or children, you might consider sharing with one another: something you failed at; how you coped with it; and, what you learned from it. This kind of practice can help us hold ourselves accountable for learning and growth, normalize that it is expected to make mistakes, and help us take creative risks in the future.

In what ways might you or your family step outside of your comfort zones this summer?

Dr. Gosnell
Lower School Director

For more information on self-compassion, check out: Definition and Three Elements of Self Compassion | Kristin Neff.