Laugh, Think, and Share: Ten Tips for the New Year

Linda Morse, ASHA President

Cheers to a new year! We have another chance to get things right. We can look at the new year as an opportunity to “fix” things in our personal and professional lives or we can reaffirm that our jobs, health, and relationships are on solid ground. Professional advice columnists aside, here are a few words of wisdom from funny people to help get your 2015 off to a good start.

  1. If you want an interesting party sometime, combine cocktails and a fresh box of crayons for everyone. Robert Fulghum worked as a ditch-digger, newspaper carrier, ranch hand, and singing cowboy. This Unitarian minister is probably most famous for the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten where he tells us to play fair, share, don’t hit people, and wash your hands. Seems pretty basic to us as school health professionals—maybe we need to break out our favorite crayons and a glass of wine. Might help us return to those values instilled in us in kindergarten.
  2. Get your facts first; then you can distort them as you please. This quote from Mark Twain summarizes the dilemma we face as practitioners when we try to base our work on competing research studies. As school health professionals, we are often inundated with data. Sometimes it supports what we believe and sometimes it’s a stretch. In a world that wants results right now, research is often a luxury that practitioners forego, especially when a school administrator wants immediate change.
  3. I’m sorry; if you were right I’d agree with you. I have often wanted to say these words to critics of school health programs. We spend so much time defending who we are and what we do that we run out of energy. This quote, from the late Robin Williams, says it all.
  4. The first time I see a jogger with a smile, I’ll consider it. The late Joan Rivers had a lot to say about exercise, dieting and of course, plastic surgery. I think she was spot on with this one though—through TV shows, ads for fitness clubs, and infomercials we have yet to make exercise really fun. Physical activity is hard work. Even the new monitoring devices nag us to get up and move. Where is the fun of my childhood when I never stopped playing, running, climbing, and smiling?
  5. Inside every cynical person there is a disappointed idealist. George Carlin is one of my favorite comedians because his observations were right on target. As school health professionals, we need to sustain our idealism even when our values or motives are questioned. It is so easy to become cynical and simply disengage. We need school health professionals to renew their commitment to healthy schools and healthy students by becoming more involved with ASHA and supporting advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national level. People renew their marriage vows—why not renew your commitment to ASHA and healthy students?
  6. Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died. For those of you who have never read Erma Bombeck, I urge you to do so. A humorist and author, Erma had a way of taking a mundane situation and making it comical. Erma’s observation about physicians is a simple way to explain to our students to observe and trust their instincts. As school health professionals, we need to educate our students and their families about quality of care and their rights but also about the possibilities available to them. And make sure that your plants are healthy too.
  7. Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. This quote from Will Rogers summarizes the barriers school health professionals face as we try to teach our students to make healthy choices. We talk about risk reduction and consequences but in reality, we know we learn from our mistakes. As school health professionals, we need to help our students become metacognitive thinkers. Let’s help them develop ways to become more conscious, reflective, and aware of what they know and how it has or may impact what happens now and in the future.
  8. I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. This quote from actress and comedian Lily Tomlin is a message to every teacher and school administrator. At the end of the day, what have my students’ learned? Have I connected to my students and sparked their interest and creativity? When they return to my class tomorrow, what questions will they have? Education, in the truest sense, is all about creating a spark that enables students to find their passion. Homework is a one night stand—true learning is forever.
  9. Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes. Zig Ziglar was an author, salesman and motivational speaker. These words resonate because too often we set lofty goals and then when something intervenes and impedes progress, we lament that we weren’t able to get anything accomplished because….Zig says set your goals high but expect road bumps along the way. The key, however, is to turn lemons into lemonade and capitalize on whatever happens. Never give up. Re-circle the wagons. Make the situation work in your favor. Two steps forward, one step back. In other words, don’t become a disengaged cynic. Do your homework. Stay connected and involved, and motivate your students and their families to do the same.
  10. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. My favorite quote is from Dr. Seuss. Everything we do, every day, at home or on the job, is about relationships. If you have become apathetic and feel like you are just going through the motions, you will get the same level of disengagement from the students you serve. If you don’t care, why should they? We can talk about rigor and we can emphasize relevance but when the rubber meets the road, it is all about caring relationships. Show students and their families that you care about them. Care about your colleagues. Care about your own health. Just make sure you care because you wouldn’t want to be known at the 2015 School Health Grinch!

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that makes you laugh and think at the same time? What words of wisdom do you have for school health professionals—those new to the field and not yet jaded and those who are seasoned professionals who have seen it all? Share your favorites with us! Welcome 2015—we have a lot of work to do!