The timing of this couldn't have been better. As I neared the end of a physically and emotionally restorative week home with my family, I also sensed subtle waves of tension, rippling inside of me. Drifting between memories of simpler times in recent years and hopes for the coming year, I found myself battling an unfamiliar, unsettling feeling of uncertainty.
This is not something I encounter often. In fact, I generally look forward to "firsts". I love the first days of a new school year, I'm not someone who dislikes Mondays, and I enjoy coming back from various recess periods over the course of the school year. I just love the positive energy associated with being around kids, in classrooms with teachers, and with colleagues whom I respect, trust, and work with, in support of kids and their families.
So what made this time different?
Well, for one, this December recess felt different because it was different.
Leading up to the break, we saw students, colleagues, and even in some cases, our own family members become affected by the latest iteration of a virus that's contributed to a global pandemic.
Coming off of the break, we braced, with anticipation, expecting that we'd continue to see rising numbers of the infected.
And while we remained confident that we'd be able to "run school" with success, we knew, deep down, that it would look different. And, it would feel different. Kids would return, and not see some of their classmates. They would not necessarily see their teachers, or their teachers in their usual classroom spaces. And their learning would take a different shape too, reminiscent of a darker period some twenty months ago. School, a stabilizing force in so many of our lives, was beginning to look and feel a bit more like a house of cards.
As a parent, I saw and felt this ebbing and flowing anticipation, a nervousness in my home.
Are we going back to school?
Can I eat lunch seated near my best friend?
Will our team be able to practice after school?
Will I be able to study abroad?
When am I going to feel better from this shot I "had to get"?
Will we "go remote"...again?
These discussions, happening in my kitchen, got me thinking. About our students. Their families. Our staff. Their families. I appreciate the dynamics in my home. We're healthy and safe, with a roof over our heads, food in our refrigerator, and plans for our future together. This is not everyone's situation. I remind myself to remind myself often of that.
All this said, time was ticking down. The ball in Times Square, would drop, as expected.
Anther year would come to a close, and another would begin. Ready or not, I'd return to being a School Principal. So I took a deep breath, and decided to respond to Peter DeWitt's prompt, asking myself, "What are your three reasons for entering the field of education?"
For what it's worth, this would be my last tweet of 2021. A recommitment to why I decided, over a quarter century ago, to make this my life's work. It's not about me. It's about others.
A few days later, I read a post, entitled, A Principal's Assessment: 'We're Not OK', written by Lisa Meade, an opinion piece on Peter DeWitt's Finding Common Ground. In this piece, Lisa articulates what I, and so may principals, are feeling over the last two or so years. Reading this was all-at-once gut-wrenching and validating.
It's not just me.
In the post, Lisa outlines both the real challenges we face, with courage, balance, and tenacity, and one wonderful solution. It's something not only that we can do each day, but that we should do every day. And let's be honest, if a doctor at Stanford Children's Hospital makes it a regular practice to hyping up NICU babies to their parents, why exactly aren't we principals making it a regular practice to lift up our teachers, and lifting up one another, a little bit each day?
Investing even just a few minutes each day in this gratitude practice will not only benefit the recipient, it'll likely remind the person delivering the message of their three reasons.
With that in mind, invest a few minutes in yourself today. And share your #3Reasons.
(Thank you for refilling my cup of inspiration, Mr. Wurm!)
Click here to visit the Learning Leadership 365 site, where you may read all posts I've written.