When the Going Gets Tough...

I'm sorry to add yet another cliche to this blog, but I can't believe it is December. There is something about the work cycle of an educator - especially a first year educator - that creates some sort of calendar vertigo. Each work week is dizzying in itself, and suddenly you look around and realize that some 14 weeks have passed since you started.

I'm not a first year educator any more, but I am a first year manager which feels eerily reminiscent of my first year in the classroom. The fact that the majority of the teachers I coach and manage are in their first year only heightens this sense of deja vu. The ups and downs of their teaching are vividly familiar, and as they struggle through the phases of first-year teaching, I feel myself following a similar trajectory.

That said, there is a crucial difference between my experience this year, and my experience as a novice teacher. I know why I am here. I know exactly what I have set out to accomplish. I know what I have survived, and as a result I know what I am capable of.

My first year was difficult because of the myriad external challenges of first year teaching, but it also involved an ongoing internal battle. What was I doing in this classroom? Was I doing more harm than good by staying? Was it worth staying through to the end? The answers only started to come together by getting to the end of the year.

Having gone through that process, I now feel myself buoyed by a faith in the value of an uphill challenge. I can remind myself that the pain and struggle of learning new skills, working long hours and being completely outside of my comfort zone will pay extraordinary dividends in the form of new strengths and countless lessons. 

I also find myself tapping into an unshakeable commitment to this work that is only possible because of the four years of teaching and my year of study at Harvard. The work is hard, and that's what makes it worth doing. I know my experience in education is limited at just five years, but it has already taught me that much.


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