Earlier this semester, I was training teachers on a campus, which quite frankly has been trending downwards for over three semesters. The training was going well up until the principal left the room to attend an ARD. Once it was obvious that the principal would not be returning anytime soon, one of the teachers that was among the least enthused raised his hand for what I thought was a question. When I recognized him, he said, “You may not know this, and the other teachers might be afraid to tell you, but we are under a lot of stress here. There have been too many changes and too much training thrown at us. If we were just left alone, we’ll do just fine. The pressure is burning people out and I won’t be surprised if a lot of teachers leave at the end of the year.”
I looked at the teacher and replied, “You are right. And I blame your principal.”
As the look of satisfaction and surprise spread across his face I continued, “This campus has been falling behind its peers for two years now. The state keeps raising standards and your central office expects results at least commensurate to the campuses that are similar to yours. Your principal has been called on the carpet on more than one occasion to explain why you as a staff are not producing at expected levels. Campuses like yours have been under increasing stress for at least four years now. If this is the first time that you have experienced it, your principal has been shielding you from the current realities of our profession. Obviously this has been to your detriment. Thank you for sharing your concern, because this will be a significant coaching conversation between me and your principal.”
For the remainder of the day, questions centered on the specifics of the training. The topic of stress was never brought up again.
If you are not feeling a little stress everyday, then either you are not pushing your students or you are not pushing yourself. Stress is simply resistance from the status quo. That resistance builds strength, character and capacity.
Think. Work. Achieve.