Are you on board for the ACE movement learning journey?
'It's just bloody good' - not sure whether I should share that or not - language sensor in place maybe? Well normally I would sensor it, but when I put the statement into context then let's hope you'll agree that it deserves to be the opening sentence for my blog!
That was the comment I received when someone very close to me, ex-police and my strongest critic gave me feedback about the work I'd been doing around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
He went on to say that in life he's realised it's easier to say things as you mean them and without mincing your words. So that's exactly what he did!
That comment was more than just a positive boost for me and my confidence! That comment was a positive sign he’d changed his mind-set and had undertaken a lot of thinking around what being ACE Aware and Informed meant (a bit of qualitative not quantitative data, but still as powerful). Since my moment of praise, we have had numerous discussions about how the police service and the education system (as examples) could (and in some cases are) effectively take on both an ACE Aware and Informed approach which would lead to a huge shift in culture(s).
But there are times when I also hear counter arguments ‘It’s too difficult’ or ‘I’m not a social worker, I’m a teacher’. In the past this made me cross and annoyed. However, I have now shifted my own thinking in response to this fixed mind-set and recognise that each individual will be on a different part of the learning journey.
The initial challenge here is making sure those with currently a fixed mind-set come aboard!
‘It’s a journey not a destination’ is a quote from another good friend of mine. It’s a learning journey, which at times will be challenging and test your strengths. There will be barriers put in the way and it’s difficult to admit that you don’t always have a solution to the problem – well not YET!
I’ve also witnessed the frustration of some colleagues who ‘get it’ and can’t understand why others ‘don’t get it’. For our learning journey to pick up pace we all need to have a growth mind-set on becoming both ACE Aware and trauma-informed/responsive – reminding ourselves along the way that we can’t just stop because we know about something (destination) , we have to change practice (the journey).
As always, it’s good to have money and time on our side when driving forward the ACE movement. However, we often forget the one most important factor – WE are the resource. What does it cost to change your language from ‘What’s wrong with you’ to ‘What’s happened to you?’ How time consuming is it to change the way you listen to a student in your classroom or an adult you work with or someone in custody or the colleague who clearly is acting out their own stress at work?
Try it! Or if you’ve tried it share the outcomes.
Taking the research on ACEs, the science around brain development, reflecting and then working out what that looks like in practice is what is needed.
We are the resource and can impact on cultural change.
We can all make a difference by learning from each other.
If you’re on board then you just maybe further down the journey than someone else, so, sharing experiences, having the conversations, taking risks and believing you can make a difference is a critical part of the learning journey experience.
The quote I’d like to share with you now is one of the most powerful of all. It’s an extract from the reflections from a compassionate teacher. Thinking about how the compassionate teacher has provided the environment for the students to be able to self-heal is very moving. It demonstrates what can happen when we change our thinking and look at things through an ACE lens. It also acts as a reminder why we need to continue to stay on board and be part of a very important movement.
‘I was surprised about some of the girls’ responses.
I was not prepared for the heightened emotional state that some of the girls would have been in.
They had to ‘get to the bottom of things’ and work through their own issues. They needed to do this in order to ‘get through to the other side’. They had to get to the emotional state and work through that in order to work through it and become emotionally resilient.
This was because they understood that whatever their ACE was/is that it’s something that doesn’t have to be a lead weight
and can be worked through’.
In my next Blog Update I will be talking about EmBRACE (Emotionally and Brain Resilient to Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the impact so far.