New Normal – New Opportunities

As many of us work from home, it’s bringing some new rhythms and positive experiences to light. Are you finding that too? As I’ve been adjusting to doing my job as Program Manager to the new normal of virtual work, it’s bringing me some surprising little joys!

Working from home has given me more of an opportunity to enjoy nature. I’m outside writing, listening to the birds, watching the bumblebees bump against the flowers, looking at the mint and dill plants coming up, and wondering when the three lonely figs on my little fig tree are going to ripen…which I’ll then give away because I don’t actually like figs. But, the point here is that this time has created a new opportunity, to become more open and aware.

I’ve been appreciating observing what’s around me more, and also finding that there is a sort of freedom through all of this. I hope in the midst of the challenges and sadness of this illness, you are also finding some bright points that are buoying your spirits and making you smile. 

Pivoting to online instruction has been an increase in production that I wasn’t expecting, and while busy, I can see that it will serve new possibilities and is certainly worthwhile.

In the coming months, Inner Strength will be releasing the beta version of our new mobile app for students. A new online learning platform is under construction now, and it’s looking great. This will serve both teachers and students, with the first course a  COVID-19 Reducing Stress for Educators.

Working with the School District’s teachers every week has hi-lighted how much pressure teachers and counselors are under. They have more paperwork and demands to produce new online lessons, counselors are calling students who have been struggling with their academics. Some of the outreach stories are happy ones, some reveal hardships that the students are facing including illness, loss, and violence. Stay-at-home helps curb the spread of one illness but sadly also gives room for other issues to surface. Teachers are coping with all this as best they can, and they are appreciative for the weekly Inner Strength Stress Reduction sessions.

For our students, online courses have been a hit. We’re teaching 8 classes a week, most of them have 85 students each, which in itself is a lot of fun. Since students mostly keep their videos off, it’s a little hard to say what happens, but I like to picture them feeling more free, without peer pressure, exploring the practices. They can take their Chromebooks and sit outside, or go to their rooms, the kitchen, or a little nook in the basement where, for 40 minutes, they can just be.

This whole experience, this new normal, while unexpected, is giving us all an opportunity to learn in new ways, engage in new experiences, and grow, and that makes me hopeful about the future. 

Alyson Showell LaPorta

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