Are you ready to redefine your perspective on student conduct and prevent professional burnout? Brace yourself for a profound conversation with the dynamic Dr. Kara Kennebrew, the Dean of Student Rights and Responsibilities who is committed to restoring students through their missteps, and shaping them into ethically engaged citizens. Our dialogue peels back the layers of authentic conversation with students, underlining the role of conduct officers as educators first. We dive into this unchartered territory and unravel how this approach has the power to transform students' lives in ways like no other.
Our conversation doesn't stop there. Together with Dr. K, we delve into the essentiality of a strong support system and the art of reclaiming our "think time". The importance of having a sounding board to share your experiences and a shoulder to lean on in challenging times is highlighted. We also stress the significance of practicing positive self-talk, a powerful tool that helps process our thoughts and emotions, fostering mental clarity and emotional well-being.
With the pressures of work and family, it's easy to forget about self-care. But the truth is, it's not a luxury, it's a necessity. Especially for women juggling multiple roles. Having a therapist or counselor as part of your personal care team can be a game-changer, and downtime is not something to be postponed for the summer months. It's crucial to take regular breaks to rejuvenate and recharge. Wrapping up our enriching conversation, we celebrate Dr. Kennebrew's achievements, affirming the importance of sharing these insights with educators. Equip yourself with these tools for a successful academic year. You deserve it!
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Disrupting Burnout: The Professional Woman's Lifeline to Finding Purpose- https://www.patricebucknerjackson.com/book
Meet Dr. Kara Kennebrew
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Kennebrew currently resides in Houston, TX with her son, Hunter, daughter, Harper and husband, Brian. Dr. Kennebrew is a double Eagle and received her Bachelor and Masters degrees from Georgia Southern University. She went on to complete her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Valdosta State University. She has been in higher education for over 15 years where her primary focus is student conduct. In her work, she seeks to redirect students through their missteps and prepares them to be ethically engaged citizens. She considers herself a RESTORER and truly has a heart for people.
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Hey friends, welcome back to Disrupting Burnout, where we are equipping educators with the strategies to do purposeful work without burnout. Listen, friend, this month is dedicated to educators. When I say educators, there's such a broad spectrum of us. You have teachers in the classroom, you have administrators in K-12, you have staff and faculty and colleges and universities, but you also have trainers and educators at companies and hospitals. So if you teach somebody something, then I'm talking to you and you don't. When I say teach, I'm not always talking about a textbook. If you connect with people and you teach them, you are an educator. So this month of July is dedicated to all of my educators, specifically those who are starting a new academic year. I know the pressure that August brings. I know that August is go time and my heart is to give you strategies and tools that you can use right now so that you can have the best school opening you have ever had. Not meaning you may not have challenges, but it means, no matter the challenge, you can be at peace. So that is our goal, and I have invited some dynamic educators to join me this month to share with you from their own experience and the tools that they have gathered through their journey. So today I'm so excited. Oh my goodness. I have known this woman for gosh probably more than 10 years, maybe more than 15 years at this time. I mean from being a student at Georgia Southern University to where she is right now. Let me just read her bio and then you're going to get to meet her. So Dr Kara Kennebrew is a native of Atlanta, georgia. Dr Kennebrew currently resides in Houston, texas, with her son, her daughter and her husband, brian. Dr Kennebrew is a double Eagle, come on Georgia Southern and received her bachelor and bachelor's degrees from Georgia Southern University. She went on to complete her doctorate in educational leadership from Valdosta State University. She has been in higher education for over 15 years, where her primary focus is student conduct. Listen, if you don't know, you're about to know. In her work, she seeks to redirect students through missteps and prepares them to be ethically engaged citizens. She considers herself a restorer and truly has a heart for people. If that is not the truth, oh my goodness. Dr Kay, welcome to Disrupting Burnout.Speaker 2:
Thank you so very much, Dr PBJ. I appreciate the opportunity.Speaker 1:
Oh my gosh, I'm so excited. Okay, let's jump into it. So let's start the way we always start Tell the people who you are.Speaker 2:
I'm a mother, I'm a wife those are my beloved, most beloved titles of life and mother, I am an educator. As you heard in the bio, I have a heart for people. I have a heart to serve people. I'm an empath. I'm always looking to make people restore them to wholeness, and so I think that's what drives my day-to-day purpose and my work, and so I just I love everything about life. I'm always looking for the positive side of things, and so I'm just an overall happy person who loves to give of myself and my time, personally and professionally.Speaker 1:
Dr Kay and y'all I lovingly call her Dr Kay. It filled my heart so much to read your bio and when you said I am a restorer and we've had conversations about this and you discovering that brilliance. You are an accomplished woman, not just a terminal degree but 15 years of experience and you have had increasing levels of responsibility and promotions and all the things you know. I know that you've been in situations where you had your choice of which job you wanted to take and in the midst of all of that you recognize that you are a restorer first. So for folks who don't understand what student conduct is, can you tell them a little bit about your daily job and how you show up as a restorer in that job?Speaker 2:
Sure. So I work at a community college in Houston, texas. My role is Dean of Student Rights and Responsibilities and in that role I help students to move beyond their circumstances. So if they perhaps are found in violation of one of the student code of conduct charges, so let's say they think I will schedule a meeting with them, have an authentic conversation. And I say authentic because I really think that when you work with people it's important to really kind of get to the heart of who they are and why they have come to see you. Instead of it being scripted, I think that it disarms them and it helps them to really kind of open up to you and you're able to get what you need out of them to help them to move forward. And so that's part of the restorative process of conduct. Conduct is thought of as punitive and in some cases it can be if the student has committed a major infraction. But oftentimes it's the case that students are really lost. They perhaps are battling some situational stressors and you would never be able to understand or know that information unless you really get to the heart and understand the person for who they are in that moment.Speaker 1:
And you're the right person for the job. You are the right person for the job. You and I met when I was doing student conduct as well. Right, and what I love about conduct officers and I always say this we are educators. We're educators first, and we have the opportunity to educate students that may not be seen in any other space. One of the reasons why students end up in our offices is because they're not connected in their residence hall, they're not a part of a student organization, they don't have a mentor. Not everybody, but a lot of them haven't found their place in their college or in their university. And to meet with somebody to walk in now, you know how they do. They don't wanna be there anyway because they know either they've been accused or they did it right Like they know why they're coming. So they make assumptions about what this meeting is going to be about. But to come into that meeting and to encounter love, to encounter grace, to encounter someone who wants to restore them, not treat them like a number, another process, a case number to close, but to see them as a person, it can make all the difference in someone's educational path. There are students, dr K, that you can connect with and because of interacting with you, they stay in school. It's powerful, it's powerful.Speaker 2:
So that rapport building is important. You know, that's another thing that before I even start my meetings I'm like tell me a little bit about yourself. Now, I know what major they are, I know what their GPA is, but it's an opportunity for me to get them to open up, to really kind of come into my space and be as authentic as possible. So, yeah, that rapport building is important.Speaker 1:
Ooh. And that's an opportunity for them to see themselves beyond what they've been accused of Very much so and to let them know that you see them beyond what they've been accused of Very much so Listen for my student affairs folks, my housing folks, my deans, my principals, aps, those of you who deal with discipline and conduct. I understand that it can be a heavy lift when your days are filled with people who are anxious and concerned and defensive because of what they've been accused of. It can be a heavy lift, but I want you to take Dr Kay's example and understand how important your role is in the lives of all of those students you are meeting with, and how you may be the person, the change, the pivot that they need in order to connect, in order to accomplish this goal of getting this degree, in order, honestly, to really really make positive decisions in their lives that will change the path of who they become. So this role is so important and, dr Kay, it's also heavy. So talk to us a little bit about how you manage the pressure and the stress that comes with your job, because there's pressure from university, there's pressure from colleagues, there's pressure from parents, there are even pressures from the state concerning this job. So how do you handle all of the pressure that comes with your role?Speaker 2:
Yeah, that's a great question. And I used to say compartmentalization. Right, I used to say you have this file cabinet and you're tucking stuff away, but at the end of the day, that file cabinet gets full if you're not able to process it and you're not able to do anything with that. So now I don't say compartmentalization, I say intentionality in terms of being intentional in caring for oneself me in the process. So throughout the day I have trusted colleagues who I use the sounding boards. If there is something that's so heavy that it's just bothering my spirit, I call on them. I know what my limitations are and so having that awareness and knowing what my limitations are is another thing that I tap into. So intentionality having the awareness to know what my limitations are and to connect with colleagues who are able to help me to move past something, an issue, to help me to see things differently, to help me to process it is so important. I rely on my husband quite a bit. He may not understand everything that I've experienced throughout the day, but he also is just that listening ear. So having some trusted circle of friends to be able to use as a sounding board is very essential for me. I also used to ride in the car with music just blasting and I would have this long commute when I lived in Georgia. So I would be blasting my music and then I would come home and then I'm with my kids and I hadn't had time to really process or really kind of figure out what went on in the day, what I experienced, and so it then was displaced you know, I'll say emotions and expressions of actions that I displaced onto them and they're like mama, what's going on? You know why are you upset, why are you snappy? So I had to readjust things and I learned to ride home in silence. I learned to be able to talk about some of the things that were kind of disrupting my spirit in silence. If I got it out and if I verbalized it, then I was then able to better understand what I was experiencing. So, even if I wasn't able to process it in that silence, I could take it to that trusted colleague, to my husband, to my friends, to say, hey, listen, this happened today. Help me like really kind of work through this. And so that's definitely helped me in really kind of diffusing and disrupting some of the burnout that I have experienced with the day-to-day work that comes my way.Speaker 1:
Yeah, oh, so powerful, so powerful. Two things I heard you say in that, and all of that was good. First of all, your community. You need a community. I call it your personal care team. Hey, friend, listen, I have exciting news for you. So if you've been following, you know I've been writing this book and I am so excited about getting it into your hands. And guess what? Today I'm offering you the first sample of my new book, disrupting Burnout. Friend, listen, we have more work to do. Okay, it's still going to professional editing, we still need to design the book, but I can't wait to all that's done for you to start digging in. So there's a sample copy that I read myself for you that's available to you today. All you have to do is go to wwwpatricebuttnerjaxsoncom slash book Again, patricebuttnerjaxsoncom slash book. Grab your sample, listen to the sample chapter and listen. Let me know what you think. I cannot wait for you to hear this book. Friend, go grab it today. Yeah, who's on your personal care team? Who takes care of you? Who can you go to? Who can you go to when you need a moment, right, and not just to complain, but just to let it out. Just to let it out. And here's my warning now concerning community, because we gotta be careful of what I call trauma swapping right, like I'm telling you what's wrong with me, you telling me what's wrong with, and nobody's getting better. We're just swapping emotions. Now I'm mad because you were mad and you're hurt because I was hurt, but nobody got better. But we need powerful community. You need people, one that you can trust, because higher-aid is a small world. Everybody knows somebody. I'm here to tell you you need people that you can trust, but you also need people who understand, who get it. When you're in those moments, you don't always have time to explain what a case is and what the mandate is and what the code of conduct is and what an infraction it Like. In that moment you just need somebody who gets it. But they're also a trusted place. So I would encourage people. It might be people right around you, or you might need to stretch outside of your institution. You might need to connect with colleagues. That's why these state meetings, these regional meetings, these national meetings are so important. The conferences are so important, because there are people who do what you do, who understand, and they have capacity to sit with you. They have capacity to support you. So find your people. Find your people yes, absolutely, our significant others absolutely. But you need people who get it as well. Find your people. And then the other thing you mentioned is that think time, that think time. I literally just put a spoonful of PBJ on Instagram just today about that think time and it seems like such a small shift, but it can make all the difference for you to have that space between whatever happened at work and showing up at home to be money. You've given your mind the grace to transition instead of just kind of walking in full of everything right. So we have to be intentional about reclaiming our think time so that we can recover. You need to recover. Dr Kay, I don't know about you, but for years I didn't realize the impact on me from being exposed to students, troubles, cases, problems, you know. I mean you deal with sexual assault, you deal with drugs and alcohol, you deal with violence, you deal with domestic violence, like all of that happens on a college campus. Whatever happens in your city or your town can happen on a college campus and your office is where it all comes. Yeah, I, I for a long time didn't stop to recognize the impact being exposed to all of that being responsible for it at some level to process it. I didn't understand the impact that it had on me. So how do you continue to check in with yourself to see how you're doing?Speaker 2:
Yeah, it's having a lot of self talk. I talk to myself a lot. It sounds crazy, but that's important. That helps with really kind of processing what's going on. I think I do a really good job of self care, right? So I'm going to always get my nails done. I'm going to always get my nail, my hair done, nails done. I'm probably going to go out separate from my husband at least once or twice a month, free from the kids, to be able to have that time. And that really kind of helps me to move to a better headspace. And I know that that sounds really really selfish, but I think that that is something that for professionals, for moms, that gets lost, like we feel that guilt. That guilt comes in where we're like well, you're supposed to work, you're supposed to be with the family, you're supposed to be, you know, a wife. But you know why? Why not think about yourself in that moment, if it's going to mean that you are going to show up in both spaces the professional space and the personal space in the best way and the most effective way possible? And that's what really kind of helps me to be whole, to be ready to take on whatever is going to come at me on any particular day or week is really kind of taking care of myself, making sure that I take a day or two. Mental health is real. Taking a mental health day. You know, early on in my professional career used to store up my time and just save it. Just say that I'm like no, you know, I'm here, I'm not taking off If I'm sick. Yes, I will take off, but you know, I was just storing up that time and then my health set me down and I really had to really inventory what was really important and if I am not able to do the job, then what am I really doing? So I had to make sure that my health was in check, physical and mental, to be able to really kind of get to a better place. The final thing I'll say is that therapy is real and for a professional who hears some really really, really heavy stuff on a day to day basis and has to process it and be the responder to that information, it gets to be taxing and you feel the weight and so being able to have that sounding board, that professional to help you to process it outside of those trusted colleagues and friends and your spouse, is important as well. So therapy is important. It's real. I go to therapy and I think that it just really kind of helps me to keep everything balanced out in check.Speaker 1:
Yes, ma'am, yes, ma'am, your therapist is a part of that personal care team. You need a counselor, you need a coach and you need a community. Everybody does, everybody does. And I have to go back to what you said about self care. It's not selfish, it's wise. You know, dr K, I've been asking this question in my workshops recently, mostly with educators. Who is who I'm speaking with, doing key notes with? And I asked this question who are you outside of your work and family roles? And most people cannot answer that question. I asked that question and blank faces across the room, especially when I'm speaking to a group of women. When I'm speaking to a group of women, who are you outside of your family and your work roles? We forget that we were somebody before the kids, we were somebody before the marriage, we were somebody before the promotion, before the professionalism, before the degree, and we leave her behind to become all of those things and we wrap our entire identity in those roles. But you said a key word. You said I want to be whole. I want to be whole. Those are significant parts of who we are. Absolutely Tremendous blessings, no disrespect at all. And that is not the whole of who you are. You are an individual before the other people in your life. So to stop and take care of that woman, that person, so that you can come back and be a better mom, so that you can come back and be a better wife, you can be a better dean, you can be a better administrator when you take the time to take care of you. You know we know enough to do maintenance on our cars. We pay more attention to our vehicles than we do our own bodies and our own minds, and we are surprised when there's a breakdown, we're surprised when there's an illness, we're surprised when something comes up. But it's just our body's way of getting our attention, to say we can't keep living like this. You have to do something different. So I know that as a staff member, as an administrator, you don't get your summers off. Everybody thinks, since you work in education, you get summers off and for those of us who work at colleges and universities, specifically on the staff side, we do not. So how do you find downtime in the summer even though you still work in everything?Speaker 2:
Oh Lord, I'm still trying to figure that out. That is a tough one. Yes, so I am strategic with looking at my time throughout the summer to see if I could get a four day weekend in there. So I think it was the last time I well, I'm on vacation now, but I took Juneteenth, so I took that Friday off and then went into the weekend. We had that Monday. So looking at and inventorying my time to see when would be the best time that I could maximize my time is probably the most strategic thing that I do right now. To make sure that I could have those long breaks, so that I won't have to use up PTO days, is what I do. Let's see what else. And I do take time throughout the year. I'm just strategic about it. I don't I no longer try to to store it up. It's not worth it. It is not worth it. I want to be, you know, a professional. I want to show up for my, my kids, I want to show up for my husband, and so strategically thinking about when they'll have days off and then taking those days so that we could filter in some fun along the way. So, once again, it's just that intentionality. I look at my calendar, see what's on it and see how I can maximize my days and my time in conjunction with holidays that are already planned for us to be off.Speaker 1:
No, that's really good. That's really good because what I hear you saying is plan ahead. Don't wait till you're overwhelmed, don't wait till you're exhausted. The academic calendar is cyclical, we know what's coming up like, we know how it works and it's planned a year in advance. So look at the academic calendar and go ahead and plan. Go ahead and plan your time off. Don't wait to get sick, don't wait to see if somebody else took the day first. Look at the calendar, because here's what it does when it gives you something to look forward to. Even when things are hard, you can think all right, I can one more month and your girl is taking some time. You know a couple more weeks and I'm out, you know. So you, you've got something to look forward to. But also, you don't lose the opportunity because you're right on it now and, for whatever reason, you can't take it. So, since we don't get those summers off, having having that long term plan of how you're going to take time is so, so important. It's so important. The other thing that I would add, dr K, is we always like tell ourselves oh, I'm going to do that in summer. Like we make a plan of 10 things. Oh, we'll get that done in summer. And it never happens, because summer goes by faster than you think and you end up being busier, right, you end up being busier than you plan. So be intentional about your summer. It comes and goes in the snap of a finger, right. So be very, very intentional. Maybe one or two goals, not 10, because it's not going to happen for you, it's just not going to happen. It's not going to happen one or two projects that you want to focus on in the summer, and then everything else has to be planned later, right? So don't overwhelm yourself in the summer, because some of us don't feel a break at all. For some of us, there's a little bit. It's a little bit slower. Take advantage. Take advantage of the time. You know it's coming, you know summer is coming, you know the majority of students are gone. You have some online, you have some still on campus, but overwhelmingly you don't have as much going on in the summer as you do August and September. So take advantage. Allow that time to walk around campus, allow that time to spend time with your team and get to know them, get them out of the office. Be intentional about the time you do have, because sometimes we're so focused on what we don't have that we lose what we do have Right. So I call it reclaim your time. Reclaim your time. You know that you have a little bit of breathing room in the summer. Use it. Be intentional about it. Plan it, but don't overplan it. Don't overplan it. Plan to downshift a little bit, plan to do less. Plan to have some think time so that when August hits because it's not playing with anybody it's coming when August hits. You haven't spent your entire summer stressed about August, because if you're grinding in your head about August, you never have a summer. You lost it, true, but if you allow yourself to stop and slow down and take advantage, then you start August in a better mind space.Speaker 2:
I received that, thank you.Speaker 1:
Yeah, yeah. So we're going to let the people go, but before we do, I know that you have your son and your daughter and they have to go back to school as well, and your husband has his job and things going on. How do you prepare your family to go back to school?Speaker 2:
Yeah, we do something pretty unique in the Kennebrook household and we do check-ins. And check-ins are just really our opportunity to make sure that everyone is good. And so my son will check in and he'll say, hey, mom, I'm really feeling like I didn't like that summer camp or I'm not feeling math. And I'll say, ok, got it. And so it's my way of really tapping in to make sure that I'm checking in with them so that I know what's going on, so that I can be more attentive. I'm saying for my husband, if there's another job that he's wishing to move to, or perhaps he's wanting to move up, climb the ladder of success, having that awareness, that knowledge of knowing, through that check-in conversation, of where he is. And then my daughter, so it's the same thing If my family isn't good, I'm not good. So that check-in is so important. It is important to make sure that we start off on the right foot and really kind of take on the day, the week, the month, the year in the best way possible.Speaker 1:
That's awesome. I love that. I love that you engage your kids, your children, in the check-in, because how often do we silence children just because they're young?Speaker 2:
All the time and they have so much to say Thank you. I'm so much surprised at what they say, what comes out of their mouth, what they see, what they feel, all of the things. And so it's important to make sure that they have a voice and that we validate their voices and their concerns and really kind of make sure that they understand that we hear them.Speaker 1:
Yeah, that's so good and it also allows your family to be in alignment right and to make decisions together. So if Brian is going after something, then the whole family can kind of be in alignment to moving that direction together. Or if you are going after a new certification or a new position or whatever, then the whole family can align and you all are not doing those things at the same time, because you understand when one might need a little more help than the other. That's powerful. I hope you all heard that. I hope you will take that into your home to have family check-ins so that you can know how everybody is doing what they need and how we need to move forward together as a family. Because I agree, dr K, if my family is not good, I'm not good, I'm not good. Oh, my goodness, as we close because we got to let the people go as we close, is there any piece of advice you would give to maybe a brand new student affairs professional? I mean, they are starting their first semester, they just came to campus and they haven't met their students yet. What is one piece of advice you would give them?Speaker 2:
Oh wow, give yourself grace. I know that that sounds cliche, but give yourself grace. I am just starting to learn how to give myself grace and I think that that is important allowing yourself to make missteps, allowing yourself to not be the best that you feel that you are, but just giving yourself the opportunity to try over and over to get it right. So give yourself grace, know that you have divine purpose for what you're doing and be confident. Walk confidently in your abilities, don't shrink. Show up every time as your authentic self and do great work for the people who you're serving. Those are my messages for you.Speaker 1:
I got chills. That was good, that was a good word and I hope you all heard every word of it. Listen, dr Kara Kennerbrew, I want you to know I'm so proud of you. It's my honor to do life with you, to watch as you excel, to be impacted by you and your lessons and your experiences and your skills. It's my honor. I don't take it for granted. Thank you so much for joining us.Speaker 2:
Thank you, Dr PBJ. I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you so very much for pouring in to me always.Speaker 1:
Always, sister, always Listen, friends, as always. You are powerful, you are significant and you are loved. Share this with somebody. Share this with an educator who needs it. Help them get prepared to have the best school opening they've ever had. All right, love y'all, bye, bye.