Note: The following was written on my phone, in an airport while waiting for a delayed flight.
Lately, I’ve had a number of conversations with principals revolving around two connected topics – hard work and stress. The first variation of the conversation begins like this, “My teachers are under a lot of stress right now.”
Like this is a bad thing? We are responsible for educating (which means adding value) our students during a very specific window of time. That time window is shrinking. If we don’t feel some stress that means we are either coasting on the fact that our students bring enough prior knowledge to the table that our effectiveness in adding value isn’t measured. Or even worse, that we’re ok with a certain percentage of our students not being successful. Both of the situations that I just described are bad for students.
Stress means that at some level teachers want to add value, want more students to be successful, and are aware that the clock is ticking. The real concern should be, “How do I help my teachers manage their newly discovered stress?”
The second variation of the conversation starts with the statement, “I’m really working my teachers hard right now.”
Again, like this is a bad thing? When did an honest day’s work for an honest wage become an area of concern? In fact, if I don’t finish the day exhausted (either mentally, physically, or both) did I really give it my all? And yes, I expect you to give it your all, everyday.
We have to get past the mind set that just showing up is enough. If just showing up was enough, then it would be much more cost effective to hire minimum wage room monitors and let kids watch “The Math and English Show” on TV. To quote Larry Wingate, “it’s called work for a reason.” If you are having fun and/or love your job, that’s just a bonus. It is not a responsibility of the boss or organization.
Quit apologizing for insisting that your staff be of singular mind and purpose when it comes to maximizing student opportunity. That is the purpose of our profession. Educators that can’t or won’t do that, discredit the rest of us.
Think. Work. Achieve.