A Blogpost Sponsored by the Letter B

While my kids have left the world of daily Sesame Street watching, Sesame videos are still affectionately played at my home.

One of my favorite Sesame Street songs is one modeled after the famous Beatles song, “Let it Be.”  In this skit, four muppet beetles are playing similar chords to the rock classic, singing, “Letter B, letter B...”

The letter B has lots of connotations, but this summer, after reading both Option B by Cheryl Sandberg and Lost at School, by Ross Greene, the following Websters’ definition of this second letter of the alphabet, resonated-- “one designated b especially as the second in order or class --I chose option b.”  Here’s why...

The lesson of “Option B”- Sheryl Sandberg, tech executive and best selling author of Lean In experienced a terrible tragedy when her husband died suddenly at age 47  in a hotel gym in Punta Mita, Mexico in 2015.  Her book, Option B has its roots in a story that she shares in the book and on her website,

“Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. A friend said to her, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the s*** out of Option B."

Option B is a reality that is chosen for us.  It is what we face when we are dealt a difficult hand and experience a loss of someone or something of great import in our lives, It  is about facing adversity and finding the power and strength to do so.  The Option B book and project shares stories and coping strategies of those who have, in horrible circumstances, found the strength to live fully with unpredicted and unchosen hands.

And while Option B is most powerful in the face of tragedy, Option B is an important lesson in the lives of all of us.  While most of us are not victims of tragedy on the scale of Sandberg and others in her book, no one lives life fully in Option A. Whether it is a personal, professional, political or economic disappointment, we must all embrace the realities of Option B and teach our children that, while we  should always shoot for the stars, being a strong and resilient citizen of the world of Option B is a big part of life.

The lesson of “Plan B”- When another school year is upon us, it is a great opportunity to begin with a clean slate.  Teachers, parents and children all have similar hopes for academic, social and emotional success.  Yet, deep down, we all know that not all of those expectations are realistic and can all be fulfilled by all of our children. Dr. Ross Greene, in his book Lost at School discusses students who, for all sorts of reasons, are not able to meet some or all expectations.

When those are not met, he says that there are three ways that schools approach the problem.  “Plan A is when adults impose their will” in response to an unmet expectation...Plan C is dropping an expectation completely…

Plan B refers to Collaborative Problem Solving, in which the child and adult are engaged in a process of resolving a problem or unmet expectation in a realistic and mutually satisfactory manner.”  Plan B is a team approach where everyone's voice is heard and valued.

Plan B is possibly the most challenging approach to problem solving, but in Greene’s lenses, it is not a fall back.   Plan B lives in the world of reality--a world where imposing will on others does not last. Plan B forces the entire team, parents, school staff, peers and students to build forums for conversation in order to hear one another, address unmet expectations and create relationships in a realistic way.*

Sefer Mishlei, teaches us,
טו  יֵשׁ זָהָב, וְרָב-פְּנִינִים;    וּכְלִי יְקָר, שִׂפְתֵי-דָעַת.
15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

As we head into this school year, let’s keep in mind these wise lessons, the lessons of the second letter, lessons that will allow us to be more resilient, collaborative and more in sync with the realities of life.

*To read more about Plan B and  Lost in School, see http://www.lostatschool.org/different/index.htm


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