A message we are hearing as educators during a pandemic.
What does this mean to you and your practice?
To me, vulnerability seems scary, it seems raw – but, both human and necessary.
Living through this pandemic has provided us with commonality of experiences. Although we are all experiencing different heartache during this time and no two stories are the same, we share a mutual feeling of exhaustion with our students, their families and our colleagues.
To create a deeper understanding of vulnerability I turned to the work of Brené Brown, researcher and psychologist who is best known for her work in the areas of shame and vulnerability. In her TedTalk from June 2010, ‘The Power of Vulnerability” (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?language=en), Brown summarizes her research on vulnerability quite beautifully with a powerful take home message:
“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen”.
To show our true selves to our students is to offer them a window into our souls. This includes expressing our positive and contagious traits of joy, hope, perseverance, inspiration, and integrity. However, in order to find success in vulnerability we need to feel all of our emotions. As much as we would like to carefully select which emotions to feel, Brené Brown unveils, we cannot “selectively numb” undesirable feelings. In fact, in our attempts to ignore negative or undesirable emotions, we “numb” positive feelings – positive feelings that we wish to pour into our virtual classrooms.
Stress, fear, anxiety, sadness, exhaustion.
To be vulnerable means we are human.
When we work from a vulnerable place it allows for us to truly stop and listen to what students need, meet them where they are at, and support them with compassion while promoting their self-worth.
Brené Brown studied people who had a strong sense of love and belonging in their relationships. Brown states that the only difference between people who had a strong sense of belonging and people who did not, was the people who felt loved – “felt worthy” of this relationship.
Vulnerability drives connection.
Connection promotes worthiness.
Worthiness equates belonging.