Facing Discouragement

I hesitate to write this blog post.

Yet it needs written. Maybe for you or for the teacher next door.

Definitely for me.

This week I’ve had too many conversations with teachers who are feeling discouraged. They do not have gender, teaching experience, grade level, or administration in common. They don’t even come from the same states. Yet they are all dealing with feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and frustrated.

I’ve even felt a little like we’re facing the impossible.

I want to figure out why we are feeling these things. I ask why, and I get a list of answers that will lead from my school door to yours — even if you are teaching half a globe away. I’ve realized WHY isn’t the most important question.

HOW is.

How will we face discouragement and still make the world better for the students in our classrooms? How will we shoulder teaching to the test in order to teach meaningfully? How will we reclaim joy when faced with frustration?

To find the answer, I return to Eve Merriam and her poem, “A Lazy Thought.” Please read it in its entirety, and then come back. I promise I’ll wait.

There go the grown ups…

We are running from one thing to the next, trying to comply with this mandate and that, barely keeping up with the zillions of tasks in one day. Sometimes all of the have-to-dos seem to get askew. Since when was it more important to log a meeting in a computer instead of listening to the voice of a student?

Hurry, scurry, worry, flurry…

These are not actions that belong in a classroom. Sure we have lots to do. This doesn’t mean we have to hurry-scurry. I do a lot in a single day, but one thing I’ve been consciously trying to stop doing is rushing. There is a phenomenon that happens when we slow down. We get more done because we concentrate, focus, and do things well. Less hurry, scurry, worry, flurry leads to more accomplished in a day.

No wonder grown ups don’t grow up anymore…

When we hurry, scurry, worry, flurry, we stop growing. We don’t have time to reflect. We don’t have time to find the good in the day. We don’t have time to consider how our  instructional choices are impacting students.

In the face of discouragement, I’m choosing to slow down. I will keep a steadfast spirit of joy and kindness. Quiet moments of reflection, loud bursts of laughter, tiny conversations about instruction will keep me true to the reasons I’m here. I’m slowing down in classrooms, giving students time to think, and time to put words on the page. Because it matters and, quite simply, teachers are enough.

I hope you cling to this truth too.