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  • Stephanie Haynes

Be the Change to Create the Change you Want

Updated: Nov 12

There’s no question those of us involved in our education system could use a great big hug right now.



If you have been paying attention at all to the divisive culture within education you know how toxic things have become between students, teachers, parents, administrators, and school boards. We all have developed our own beliefs as to how education post-Covid needs to be fixed and have (almost) completely stopped listening to one another because we are too busy shouting our viewpoints.


The prevailing emotions of anger, frustration, and disillusionment with the system have caused alarming damage to these very important relationships.


It’s enough to make us all more than a little anxious about the future of education and those affected by it.


But, we can do something about it.


A new idea

A few years back I created and taught a course that aims to help every high school student be as successful as they want to be. One of the units our team developed focuses on mental health and the importance of building positive ways to manage stress, anxiety, and depression as a young adult.


One of the assignments in that unit is called Operation Lift the Mood. The goal of this activity is to lift the mood of another around you anonymously. We designed it to help students understand the positive benefits for themselves of reaching out to encourage others. I hoped it would become a fruitful lesson.


We had no idea how much of an impact it would have not only on them, but on the school community as well. It has consistently been students' most beloved project and significantly alters the mood of the entire school. To date, new team members have added additional activities, including becoming a “Kindness Ambassador” in students’ communities and neighborhoods and within the school on a weekly basis, not just for this project.


Why am I sharing this? Because I think we can all benefit from spreading a little kindness to one another with nothing expected in return.


Food for thought

There is no doubt the education system needs reimagining. But is anger, hostility, and degradation really the way to do this?


What could happen if we laid aside our anger, frustration, and fear and instead adopted the belief that EVERYONE in education is trying to do their best for the students we serve? How could things change if we all looked for ways to encourage and support each other instead of tearing each other apart?


We tell kids all the time to “get along”, shouldn't we be the example?


While we may not agree on the how…

  • There is no doubt educators are doing their best to support the learning of their students.

  • There is no doubt parents are trying to do their best to support their kids.

  • There is no doubt administrators are creating a school culture to support all their students.

  • There is no doubt school boards want to support the schools in their district.


We may not be able to change the entire education system. We may not be able to change anyone’s viewpoint on how that change should be implemented. But we CAN change how we treat others in the system.


It’s time to act

It’s time to create a system-wide Operation Lift the Mood. What can you do to lift up someone else in the education system you are involved with? Here are a few ideas (modify as necessary for groups other than yours):


  • Show up to a school board meeting and thank the members for volunteering their time.

  • Send a note of encouragement and thanks to your children's teacher(s)

  • Create a social media post praising the parent involvement at your school

  • Create an Operation Lift the Mood campaign in your classroom, school, district and/or neighborhood.

  • Order pizzas/treats to be delivered you your local school with a note of thanks

  • Draft and send a letter of appreciation to all the teachers in your district and/or your district parents


Together we can lift the mood within the education system and, who knows, we might all just find a way to make the changes that are needed to help all students be as successful as they want to be in the process.


Question to consider

How would you lift the mood of your local school?