I took a risk at the start of the year with our entire staff at our district. The old pattern of “what we’ve always done” on the first day was shifted to a workshop format, in the name of modeling best practice and technology and making sure everyone was informed concerning changes to teaching and learning.
It was not well-received. I completely own the fact that I overestimated readiness. I asked too much in terms of technology use. I didn’t specifically ask for feedback on the format or the content of the workshop. I know better than to enact too much change at once, but yet there I was, pushing too hard and expecting everyone to adopt mindset that everyone wasn’t ready to embrace.
The feedback I received was harsh, to say the least. It has de-motivated me in a way I have never experienced before, and I’m fighting it constantly, every single day. Fighting to not focus on the immediate wrong and instead looking past all that to see the long-term good.
And there has been some good. While we most often focus on the negative loudest, the quiet positives are trickling through the culture. I’m seeing variations and versions of what was discussed in the workshop on that day circling back to me, people asking questions as I pass through hallways, wanting to set up appointments to talk in more detail.
It’s those things that are slowly re-igniting my fire. I once did a session on differentiation at a prior district, a district where I was still in the classroom. I was frustrated afterwards, and when the principal asked me why I said, “No one is listening.” He shot right back, “Yes they are. The ones that care are listening. The ones that want to move forward are listening. Pay attention to them.”
I’m paying attention. I’m still determined. We can’t settle for good when we can be great. We have to get stuck in a cycle of self-improvement rather than stuck in our own sense of “we’re good already.” Yes, we are good already-but there’s aways room for improvement.
We always have to ask ourselves – is what we’re currently doing what’s best for students? And I always have to remember this quote:
“If you would escape moral and physical assassination, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing—court obscurity, for only in oblivion does safety lie.”