Managing our lives during a pandemic is not unlike living during a war.  We are under attack and have been for months.  The ongoing issues around the Covid-19 virus has brought on a form of shell shock and there are some who show signs of PTSD.  We bounce from bad news to good news and back again.  From hope to despair to cautious optimism.  We make plans, and they are uprooted.  We plan again only to be forced to change again.  This is a war zone and we must, as they say, soldier on.

But how?

In this case, the best resource may be a retired Navy SEAL officer.  Brent Gleeson reports on the advice he got from one in A Navy SEAL’s Guide For Reacting And Thriving Under Pressure.  Jason Redman, the Navy SEAL, refers to our current situation as a “life ambush! An unexpected catastrophic event that leaves a permanent impact on your life or career.”  Certainly, the pandemic has done just that.   What soldiers know is that when you are in this situation, you need to get out as fast as possible.   The way to do it is to R.E.A.C.T.

Recognize your reality – If you haven’t done so already, confront and accept the truth of the situation.  While it is in flux with almost daily changes and challenges, COVID-19 is here to stay.   There will be a vaccine, but it won’t disappear.   All aspects of our society have been altered by its presence, and they will never revert to what they were before.   By accepting this truth, you can start seeing the situation from a larger perspective, make better decisions, and implement the most beneficial actions.

Evaluate your Assets and Position –What do you have that is working for you? What isn’t?  How valuable do teachers, students, administrators, and parents think you are?  Who are your strongest supporters?  Who are the weakest – or non-existent?  This requires honesty.   Some of you only see what isn’t working.   Others put a positive cast on everything.   Neither is entirely helpful, Take a good hard look at the situation.  Have your role and responsibilities been dramatically changed? If so, what are your new assets in this position.  If you can, take time to do this for your personal life as well – what’s working, what’s not, where can you get help.

Assess your Options and Outcomes – What steps can you take so that the library is seen favorably? What part of your Mission can you put into action? Can you turn your new situation into a plus?  Perhaps you have a new way to collaborate with teachers.  Maybe there’s a way to create online bulletin boards with contributions from students.  Check with your Professional Learning Network for suggestions.  Look at the decisions being made by your Board of Education.  Are you in danger of being eliminated, be made part-time or some other serious change? If so, can you find a new and better position somewhere else? Will additional certification help? For the moment, consider even unrealistic options and their potential outcomes as you decide upon some next steps.

Choose a Direction and Communicate it – Once you have decided as to the best way to proceed, make sure those who need to know and can help you are made aware of it. This is particularly true if you have choose to start job hunting. Think strategically so you don’t put your current job in jeopardy. In getting to your objective, what steps must you take – in what order?  Who do you need to work with and/or contact to complete this step?

Take Action.  GET off the X and Move! – The first step is the hardest. It is easy to procrastinate when something important is at stake. Trust the process you went through and the decision(s) you made. Nothing will change unless you do. Break big steps into smaller ones to help you gain and keep momentum and be ready to adjust as most plans require tweaks as you implement them, but don’t lose track of your goal.

The pandemic has attacked the life we’ve known and left us all changed, but even when changes happen, you can take steps to move yourself forward, professionally and personally. This is your life and your life’s work.  It’s time for you to R.E.A.C.T.

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