Last week I was teaching a class to a group of students soon to be Seniors in High School. We discussed that this moment is a very important one for them. They are being given a chance to hit the RESET button and make change for a large group of people using simple and small methods.
The students are excited for their upcoming Senior year. They have been through a lot. Most high school students go through a lot of trials and tribulations that the world doesn’t acknowledge. However this upcoming class is headed back into their school buildings after a pandemic. A pandemic that made their country and their world sick and unsafe. Many students had family members or friends die from Covid 19 or related complications. They had to rethink their daily schedules and habits as they navigated remote learning and close quarters with their families for months on end. The pandemic also gave time and space for the world to check in with each other through social media more than before. We exploded through quarantine with trolls and video footage of horrible moments of humanity burying the joys and celebrations of connection and togetherness. It has been a rough time.
So last week when they were bubbling with excitement to be finished with work and begin their summer plans and day dreams of the “Senior” year, I reminded them of something. They not only hold a leadership position in the building because they are the oldest but because their school needs their perspective. The freshman class will walk into their high school having been at home for most of middle school. The sophomores will never have attended a class in their high school in person. The Junior class was in the building for only six months. I reminded them of the enormous opportunity to hit RESET and create a school in their image. They discussed some of the traditional social norms that honestly didn’t feel good. Ways of addressing underclassman that they didn’t like when they were younger. They discussed the need for more inclusion, and discussion on identity with respect. I urged them to believe that they hold the power to make it happen. I told them something I tell my mentee teachers.
People in your life will say things like “take the temperature of the room” and they are referring to the social temperature. However I think that is a tool needed when you are coming into an already established space looking for something. If you want to ask your parent for twenty dollars or to go to a party, you first gauge what kind of mood they are in. You adjust to them. When you are the leadership in the room, when you are the one everyone looks to for establishing the norms, you need to be the thermostat. You need to set the temp and live it. I encouraged them all to remember that each day holds the promise of setting a new norm. Begin Again and let it begin with you. Be the Thermostat, your community needs you.
I am reflecting back on this today. I am thinking about places and ways in my own life that I need to be the Thermostat. I am reflecting on where I can live out the things I want to be practiced in my life. Human being naturally want to connect and join our rhythms into one. I want to be more mindful about where I lead and how I begin again each day to keep it moving towards a world and a life of which I can be proud.