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8 lessons from this year to take into 2021

8 lessons from this year to take into 2021

5 min read
  • Motivation, Resilience & Growth Mindset

We are close to a new year. 2020 has been a real tough one, but has also taught us many skills and strategies, and given us newfound appreciation for the smaller things.

As we look back on the last 365 days, here are the 8 top lessons we’re taking with us into the new year…

1. Change can be scary – but it doesn’t need to be

Finding yourself under new circumstances, good or bad, can be overwhelming. The uncertainty of facing something without previous experience is a major source of stress.

However, crisis can also be an opportunity – as long as you develop a “challenge mindset” rather than a “threat mindset”. When faced with a stressful situation, do you see it as:

  • A crisis you don’t have the capacity and resources to overcome, that stops you in your tracks? You have a “threat mindset”.
  • An opportunity to build on your skills, using the resources you have at your disposal? You have a “challenge mindset”.

It is easier said than done, but some strategies can help you become better at adapting to change. These include removing as much uncertainty as you can, putting things in perspective, using a long-term goal as motivation… and many more. If you want to read more, check out our 8 ways to cope with change blog.

2. There is always something you can do

It’s about more than just mindset, as what you do matters too. The work done by educators all over the world this year is an inspiring example. With more than enough on their plate, they still found ways to support students.

Beyond learning, teacher support has a significant impact on students’ well-being, management of negative emotions and resilience. As for parents, they have more tools to help their child through this crisis than they may know. Encouraging good sleep habits, teaching empathy or providing tools against misinformation are important ones.

Of course, the COVID-19 crisis has negatively affected student learning, as reported by Ofsted in November. But it isn’t a lost cause – read more in our 7 strategies to help students catch up blog.

3. Learning never stops

With schools completely or partially closed, staggered hours, entire classrooms having to self-isolate… education has had to take many shapes and forms this year.

Students made it work by developing effective home-learning habits and adapting their workspaceto a new purpose. Teachers and parents supported these changes while balancing professional, parental and personal life.

Thankfully, finding resources to teach and learn online is easier than ever. Tools, platforms and resources are plentiful. Check out the Teacher CPD Academy.

4. You’re a lot more resilient than you think …

We all realised this year that we can get through more than we thought. We often explain that resilience differs from other concepts such as mindset or adaptability because it happens in the face of unexpected or difficult circumstances.

To build your resilience skills in the new year, try some of these strategies:

  • View your decisions as active choices – not sacrifices
  • Believe in yourself more
  • View stress and setbacks as opportunities to push yourself
High-impact CPD made easy. Develop evidence-informed CPD at your school, using our exclusive online collection of courses and resources.

5. … As long as you look after yourself

You know what they say during the security briefing on planes: “secure your own mask first before assisting others”. The impact of this year’s events will be felt for a long time, so you need to take care of yourself if you want to be able to show up for other people too.

Winter can harm your mental well-being at the best of times, let alone this year. We recommendmaintaining structure to your days, staying in touch with others, getting some fresh air and sunlight when possible, and looking after your body through exercise and healthy food. But our best piece of advice is to learn to appreciate the little things and take it one bit at a time.

6. You are not alone

One of the highlights of our year was the show of support and solidarity we’ve seen within the education community. In times of crisis and increased workloads, it’s vital to seek out or ask for help when you need it. Many avoid it for fear of looking weak. Research actually shows that others see asking for help as a sign of courage, among many other benefits.

The world of education is full of driven, passionate and generous people. Surround yourself with good people, use the resources and support they provide, lift them up – this will suddenly seem a lot easier.

7. Be both optimistic and realistic

We can all learn from the story of Admiral James Stockdale. A POW in the Vietnam War for 8 years, Admiral Stockdale credits his survival to never doubting that he would eventually get out, while avoiding blind optimism.

How does this translate into our current situation? Stay informed to get a better idea of what to realistically expect. At the same time, develop your optimism and use it as a drive for change at your scale. Strategies to be more optimistic include:

  • Focusing on what you can control
  • Avoiding over-generalisation
  • Watching your self-talk
  • Not seeing everything as either black or white
  • Acknowledging your own contributions

8. Develop your Inner Drive

If there’s one thing we learned in 2020, it’s that a bit of motivation can do wonders. Identifying what drives you, working out a plan towards it and tracking your progress can help you achieve much more than you would think.

As we enter a new year, now is the ideal time to set goals. But remember, goal setting is a process. Short and long term goals, a focus on skills and a flexible plan you can adjust as you go are all elements of effective goal setting. Progress is rarely linear, so make sure you’re ready for obstacles, and get other people to keep you accountable and support you as you go along.

Final thought

You can click the links in this blog to get extra tips, but if you want further free resources, we recommend these:

There is no doubt that 2021 has much in store for us. But with the lessons we have learned from a challenging year, we can face it with more confidence and optimism. We thought we’d end the year with a quote from one of our favourite poems, “If you have to sweep the streets, sweep them like Shakespeare wrote poetry”. Next year may bring some incredible and unforeseen opportunities – so seize it and strive to make each day your masterpiece.

Looking after yourself, surrounding yourself with the right people and focusing on what drives you will in turn help you become the change you want to see. Remember: you’re capable of more than you may think. Use all the challenges, struggles, positives and achievements you find when you look back on 2020 as tools as you head into 2021.

The InnerDrive team wish you a happy New Year!