Alice Lau is our Site Coordinator at Dimmitt Middle School. She recently spoke with our board about the challenges of staying connected to students in a virtual world, and how she overcomes those challenges through leading with compassion. By leading with compassion, Alice creates space for students to be themselves.
Alice generously spent some time talking to me more about leading with compassion, and how she builds her own resilience.
By leading with compassion, Alice creates space for students to be themselves.
What does leading with compassion mean to you?
It’s trying your best not to jump to conclusions with kids. You don’t know the cause of their behavior. When students act out, instead of asking “Why did you do this?” you can instead ask “What’s going on? How can I support you?”
Have an open mind while holding them accountable. Teach them that when they know better, they can do better.
Where do you get your resilience from?
I get my resilience from building community, embracing vulnerability, and trial and error. Just keeping at it. I try not to get caught up in the details but instead try to understand the bigger picture and understand how to best be there for kids.
I have to show up every day, because who knows what will make an impact? I have to understand that kids don’t have the capacity to respond to my outreach, but they are still impacted by it.
Students need a safe space to be themselves, express themselves, and to build connection.
What do kids say to you when they do respond to your outreach?
I get a lot of updates on what they’re going through. So many are going through their own personal hardships: family illness/ death, unstable home environments, lack of resources/ support, and many other stressors. They feel disconnected from their friends and they feel disconnected from themselves. But at the end they always tell me “I feel better saying it to you right now.”
Students need a safe space to be themselves, express themselves, and to build connection. I’m trying to provide that space for them while they’re learning from home because school buildings have always been that safe space.
What changes have you seen in students, pre-pandemic to now?
It’s become clear how many different learning styles of there are; actually, many students are learning better at home. This shows how important it is for adults to support kids when the education system doesn’t work for them, because it doesn’t work for so many.
Kids are also so burnt out and depressed. School is prime time socialization, and they can’t do that right now.
What’s your hope for students when they come back to buildings?
I hope they use these last school days of the year to build connections with peers and teachers, and that they can make a connection between what they’ve learned online and what they learn in person. I really hope for students to experience people paying attention to them, and for teachers to see the fruits of their labors.
I really hope for students to experience people paying attention to them, and for teachers to see the fruits of their labors.
Kathy Ulrich, Development Director