It was a typical Monday morning with voices of students and teachers filling the building after another two-day reprieve. I was walking from one class to the next when I passed a teacher in the hall pushing a loaded cart of supplies. “Perfect timing!” I proclaimed as I held the door open for her to enter the building. She smiled in response then stopped to chat for a moment or two.
We talked about our weekends and upcoming projects on the horizon. We shook our heads in disbelief as we contemplated one-fourth of our school year already complete. “Where does the time go?” As we started to part ways, I thanked her for bringing a little sunshine to my day and she paused with a laugh and said, “You are an umbrella to my rain!”
Perhaps this is a cliche others know well, but it was the first time I had ever heard it. The visualization has stayed with me the entire day.
How can we be more like umbrellas to other people’s rain?
We can offer shelter from the storm.
There are times throughout our week when it seems the winds whip from every direction and you can barely stand upright. Seek out others who may be running for shelter or are hovering in the shadows to stay dry. Make a genuine effort to connect, to check-in, to listen and empathize. Be that safe place people can go where the storm of judgment and criticism is kept away.
We can surround others with strength.
Just like the metal ribs of an umbrella stretch out to hold the canopy in place, we can strengthen our students and co-workers by stretching ourselves to meet their needs. Perhaps it’s something simple like offering to help on a task or maybe it’s a bit more complex like brainstorming ideas and solutions. Supporting others with strength reminds them that they are not alone and we can battle the storm together.
We can get wet to keep others dry.
Sometimes support means doing things beyond our designated roles and responsibilities. It’s staying late after school to help out a struggling teacher. It’s helping to clean up the cafeteria floor when a carton of milk is spilled by a student. It’s offering to help, being willing to serve, and taking one for the team. Our willingness to get wet by the storm shows others that even in the hardest downpours, the work we do still has value, importance, and worth.
Let’s be like umbrellas today, so we can we can shine a light on sunny skies tomorrow.