Rest, recharging keys to making good decisions, helping others 

During Wednesday’s Board Leadership Forum, fondly referred to as “lunch and learns,” Dr. Marcia Weseman, KASB leadership Services, emphasized the importance of supporting the emotional well-being of school leaders, including board members and superintendents. 

Our emotions and energy levels are absorbed by those around us, we project what we are feeling to others. When we are calm, people around us feel safe,” she said. 

However, Weseman, who has extensive experience providing trauma response training and leading resiliency initiatives, added an important caveat. 

“Before we can help others, we have to manage ourselves,” she said.  

She suggested thinking about it like the advice given before taking off in an airplane – you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. The concept is the same with self-care during a crisis. 

“You have to make sure you take care of yourself if you are going to make differences in the lives of your students, your staff and your parents.” 

This series of “lunch and learns” concludes next week. If you would like to register for the Wednesday, May 27 online forum, go to this link.

At yesterday’s forum, Weseman also briefly reviewed brain research behind our emotional responses during a crisis, noting one significant challenge is to move from reacting to the crisis to a more responsive mode where better decisions can be made. 

There are multiple strategies that we can use to train ourselves to manage our responses, Weseman said. During a prolonged crisis such as the current pandemic, it is vitally important to focus on self-care by giving yourself a chance to step away from work and recharge. 

The research is clear, Weseman said. “When people disassociate from work, when they return they are more productive and more creative.” 

Weseman closed by asking the group to brainstorm a few ways they can support their administrators and staff. 

Suggestions included honoring days off and family time, turning off social media, meditation and hobbies.  

It was also suggested that as leaders we can wait to send emails during office hours unless it is an emergency. Weseman said, for example, if a board president sends an email at 9 p.m. there could be an expectation that the email should be read and responded to.  

Weseman said the emphasis on “giving grace” in our educational community has caught national attention. She suggested we go one step further. 

“Show compassion, for our families, our students, our staff and ourselves.”  

Also during Wednesday’s board forum, KASB Attorney Sam Blasi reviewed best practices on managing public comment during online board meetings. Blasi said it is the prerogative of the board to allow public comment, and to develop rules for how the public can address the board. 

Sue Givens, KASB leadership services, added remember it is the board’s meeting in public, not a public meeting.” 

Blasi also responded to a question about scheduling executive sessions. When asked if the board can go into executive session at any time, Blasi reminded listeners that executive session is a power and function of the board alone. 

“Only the board can decide to hold an executive session. No one can ask the board or schedule an executive session except for the board of education.” 

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