I am writing this post on the eve of our district’s two-week Fall break. Tomorrow will be our last day before a much-anticipated two-week break. As I am prone to do at the end of a quarter, I have been spending some time reflecting on the trials and tribulations of the beginning of my school year. So far, the year is receiving mixed reviews: the good, the bad, and the occasional ugly. I am hopeful that I am making good decisions, doing what is right for students, and making a difference in our school community. That being said, I know I have a lot to learn.
So here are three areas where my perspective has shifted a bit over the past few weeks:
(1) There will never be enough time. No amount of planning, preparation, iPhone apps, or list-making will change that. As I have written before, knowing your “big rocks” is critical — but even armed with that understanding this is still a constant personal struggle. I have come to realize that a life consumed by minutiae is daunting. When I get overwhelmed, I struggle to feel purpose. I find that I am easily discouraged. And worse, I feel sorry for myself. That not a good thing, because the fact of the matter is, that in the grand scheme of things, I have it easy. If you follow Chris Wejr (which you should) you probably know the story of his family friends who recently lost their daughter to a battle with cancer. Although I didn’t know Lilee-Jean, or her parents, I was moved by the stories Chris shared. I am often ashamed of my level of apathy in the face of an overwhelming number of reasons to be grateful. Thanks to Chris for reminding me to be thankful. Always.
(2) In our profession, people matter most. Students, teachers, parents, support staff. People. Not e-mails, reports, data, standardized tests, budgets, or homework. As a bit of an introvert, I struggle to show as much appreciation and gratitude as I should, but I do recognize the difference it makes for my students, staff and school. It is something at which I have to get better. In his post, Leadership and Capacity, David Truss shared some advice he was given regarding the hectic life of an educator: “When life gets really busy, it is important to be sure that what falls off the back of our truck are things, and not people.” I also Know that expressing gratitude lifts my spirits, as well as those around me. For a possible explanation, check out this Soul Pancake video on The Science of Happiness.
(3) I worry too much. Due to budget constraints and staffing, by choice, we took a hit in our administrative staffing this year. As a result, I have been handling (I use that term loosely) all of our seventh grade discipline. It has created challenges in terms of balance as I have struggled to be in classrooms as much as I would like. But, it has created more opportunities for me to interact with, and counsel, students. This quarter I have been struck by the sheer number of students who are facing extreme life challenges. Both numbers, and circumstances, are staggering. And, while they don’t always make stellar decisions, I continue to be thoroughly impressed by the resiliency shown by many of these students. So many are facing circumstances that would knock most adults on their backside — leaving us incapable of dealing with day-to-day circumstances. Yet they continue, to show up, many smiling, happy, and relieved to soak in the relative normalcy of school. I am encouraged by the fact that if we can find a way to make connections, build hope, and harness that resilience, these kiddos have unlimited potential. Their circumstances (and in many cases) their responses, put my worries to shame.
As I write, I can think of several other areas of enlightenment, but I will save those for another post. Thank you to my PLN for your revelations, inspiration, encouragement, and camaraderie — you are all such a critical part of my professional growth, and you are appreciated.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions.