Monday, 2 May 2016

Thriving through the pressure of life (2016 Term 2 Week 2)

No-one needs to be convinced that modern life is stressful. The pace of life, financial imperatives, the amount of information with which we are bombarded and the myriad other complexities of life in 21st century Australia all contribute to our experience of stress. Adding to all these pressures, and perhaps overarching all of them, is the quest for 'work/life balance' - whatever that is!

On our Staff Development Day at the start of this term, the school invited Dr Adam Fraser to conduct a couple of sessions with our staff, aiming to equip us to manage the challenges and tensions around work/life balance. While Dr Fraser covered a lot of territory, feedback from a number of staff identified his concept of the Third Space as being particularly insightful and helpful.

The Third Space is that moment of transition between one role or task and the next role or task. Dr Fraser's thesis is that managing our transitions has a profound impact on our performance, happiness and balance. Without managing this transition well, not only does any negativity associated with the previous context carry forward and taint the next encounter, but there can be a mismatch between the mindset and attitude needed in the first and second contexts. The following 6 minute video outlines his point.

While the importance of the transitions is self-evident, I have found Fraser's scaffold for structuring that transition most helpful. In this scaffold, we reflect on the positives of the previous encounter, we find some means of rest or relaxation (whether a breathing exercise, walking the dog or sitting under a tree), and we reset, through deciding what 'the best me' needs to bring to the next context.

I commend Dr Fraser's work in this area to you. The links above may provide you with some ways to pursue it further. I am experiencing some benefit from adopting this framework myself and I hope that some of the Inaburra staff are doing likewise. 

My mind is now shifting to the question as to how this framework might have benefit for our students as well. Their stresses and pressures are different to ours, albeit just as profoundly felt, and the world into which they are moving looks likely to be even more pressured and fast-paced. As parents, and as educators, we may do well to help our young people to learn to manage their transitions.

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