How to foster hope in tough times

By Jim Knight
February 2021
At the beginning of every new year, I create a playlist for my friends filled with music that brings me joy. I call it my happy list. This year, as I chose my songs, I realized that a theme was emerging: new beginnings. As Nina Simone sings, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good” (Bricusse & Newley, 1965). This year’s playlist gives voice to my deep desire to turn the corner on the tough times we’ve all experienced this past year. I know I’m not alone in wanting a new beginning. For many, 2020 was the hardest year of their lives. In times like this, we can feel tempted to give up whatever fight

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Bricusse, L. & Newley, A. (1965). Feeling good. I Put a Spell on You [Recorded by N. Simone]. On I Put a Spell on You.

Campbell, J. & Van Nieuwerburgh, C. (2018). The leader’s guide to coaching in schools: Creating conditions for effective learning. Corwin Press.

Halvorson, H.G. (2012). Nine things successful people do differently. Harvard Business Review Press.

Jackson, P.Z. & McKergow, M. (2002). The solutions focus: The simple way to positive change. Nicholas Brealey.

Lopez, S. (2013). Making hope happen: Create the future you want for yourself and others. Atria.

Miller, W.R. & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change. The Guilford Press.

Snyder, C.R. (1994). The psychology of hope: You can get there from here. The Free Press.

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Jim Knight ( is a senior partner at the Instructional Coaching Group and a senior research associate at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.

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