Getting better = pressure, but support

“You’re always trying to be better.  You must be exhausted all the time.”

That was something a colleague of mine once said to me as I was starting my journeys into 1:1 learning and standards-based learning (at the same time).  I didn’t realize that “always trying to be better” was what I was doing by constantly trolling Twitter and my feed reader for new ideas and ways to do school a little differently.  It was and is still exhausting, but the payoff is huge – if you can stay in the struggle.

Being in a constant cycle of self-improvement means you’re constantly causing yourself a lot of pain, suffering, self-doubt, and self-reflection, but knowing you and your students will come out the better for it on the other end.  I came across a tweet yesterday that contained a visual map of all this pain and suffering:

Click here for a larger version

The reason I connected with this visual was that everything on here is pretty much what’s coming out of my mouth or rattling around in my brain about something I’m working on at any given time.  I remember being in the dark swamp of despair at around this time of year when I was implementing standards-based learning in my classroom, putting my head down on my teacher desk and just wanting to leave education altogether.  And I would have left if I hadn’t had some timely administrative support when I needed it, yanking me out of that swamp.

Now, as an administrator, I’m looking at this in terms of staff readiness for this type of journey. How many really understand what happens during the journey to something great?

How many of them really understand that mistakes, readjustments, and sometimes outright failure have to happen before greatness can happen?

But that’s one of my jobs, then, isn’t it-to make staff aware of the emotional journey they face when enacting change, that constantly trying to be better sometimes really, really sucks.  But it’s also my job to make sure I’m there to support them in any way possible, just like my administrator did for me the day I wanted to walk out the door and never come back.

Pressure to change for the good of students, but also support-that’s my job.



  1. I loved this chart when I saw it tweeted out, as well. What if… you asked your staff to think of a problem they are working on, then had them put a sticker some place on a HUGE poster of this and they could see all the different places people were on on their journey of their particular problem? Might be a good graphic. Maybe they could be magnets with everyone’s names on them (printer magnet sheet you could cut into rectangles), and then they could move their name every day or week or meeting or whatnot to show that yes, they are progressing?! ;D

    1. Joy, thanks for the awesome idea! I have a group of teachers right now diving headfirst into standards based grading, and I think this would be fantastic for them to do so they can see there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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