AZENet Week: A Place of Encouragement & Support by Holly Brown

Hello there! Holly Brown, here. I’m a data-driven social worker who is currently working from home in the equally lovely and sweltering hot, Phoenix, Arizona. I have the pleasure of working with Hourglass ETS, an educational software company who strives to bring equity into the classroom through the use of data dashboards that identify opportunities for student and teacher supportive interventions, (that was quite a sentence, I know. Thanks for making it this far!) I’ve been a member of the Arizona Evaluation Network (AZENet) ever since I learned about the wonderful field of program evaluation.

It’s my personal opinion that we all need a bit of encouragement in this crazy season of life. If you’re feeling open to it today, I’d like to offer a quick exercise of self-reflection. Please read the following statements to yourself, out loud, if you’re able.

  • I am strong
  • I am capable
  • I am courageous
  • I am understood
  • I am appreciated
  • I am wanted
  • I am supported

Is there one that sticks out to you more than the others? Whether it’s something you doubt about yourself, or something you feel particularly confident about, reflect on what it would look like to face today with an immovable belief in these statements.

Lesson Learned: The one that sticks out most to me today is “I am supported”. In this crazy time of life when the whole world is experiencing a crisis, the reliability of feeling supported through virtual meetings and limited face-to-face interactions with our peers has been somewhat reduced. Our familiar sources of support have been upended. Reacting with frustration, doubt, or grief is completely normal and okay. We are all learning the significance of adaptability, not just in the workplace with our clients, but in everyday life, and we must respond with increased support for one another.

Rad Resource: When we feel a lack of support, sometimes it seems best to retreat or self-isolate, and although self-isolating for health reasons may be advised for our current context, we must draw on the social resources we have if we are to maintain our mental health in these times. I want to really drive home the point that you are supported. Whether you know it already, or not, there are hundreds if not thousands of people nearby who would welcome you into their community in a heartbeat. 

One example of support is your local AEA affiliate group. Mine is AZENet, and your state’s is likely just a few clicks and a short interest-email away. These networks and this blog help us to remain connected, informed, and supported. Capitalize on their purpose to connect people, to create incredible networks of support, and to affirm our individual and collective strength and resiliency in these times when we need each other more than ever before.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Arizona Evaluation Network (AZENet) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AZENet members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on theaea365 webpageso that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest aea365 is sponsored by theAmerican Evaluation Associationand provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “AZENet Week: A Place of Encouragement & Support by Holly Brown”

  1. Hi Holly
    Thank you for sharing this exercise and ever-relevant reminder! Coincidentally at work today, our Head of School lead us through a similar exercise to help us teachers try to find some solace in these times. With managing a family life, health, work, supporting relatives financially back home and school, I now more than ever have felt like I am alone with little to no support. An inner voice crying out for support but no one hears. I am reminded to take it one day at a time and that self encouragement is relevant to get through each day. I found the value of voicing issues, with the hope that someone, in position, will help to resolve or provide support.
    The past two weeks I have been away from work because of the psychology and physical stress, but things are looking hopeful as our school heard our concerns and provided workable solutions. I think I am now ready to return to work knowing ‘I am supported’. Thank you again for sharing this exercise and I will definitely continue to believe in these reminders.

  2. Hi Holly,
    I learned a lot from your post and appreciate everything you have shared! I enjoyed how positive and uplifting your post was. In this crazy world we sometimes forget to sit back and reflect on the positives around us. I love how you included the encouragement exercise. It was very powerful to do this activity and it helped me gain a lot more confidence and acceptance, just within a couple seconds of doing it. The statement that stood out to me the most was, “I am appreciated.” As a teacher, in this ever so changing education system, (especially recently) I feel sometimes we are not as appreciated or understood by parents and others. However, after having taught online, due to this pandemic, I have had parents express how grateful and appreciative they are that we were able to support their child during this trying time. They were much more supportive and appreciative because they realize now, how much we as educators do. I actually had a couple of parents say, “I don’t know how you do it, they never listen to me at home.” It was actually quite funny and rewarding to hear because I feel now most parents realize the amount of time and effort educators put into their child’s learning. Thank you for sharing this activity and giving me a chance to reflect on myself. It has been hard lately, however being able to reflect on the positives of teaching was very rewarding. I look forward to using this activity in my classroom, thanks again!

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