Sometimes it feels like you’re running 100 miles an hour, but really only trying to navigate through the challenges and new learning one day presents. Let’s say I am training for a marathon. I’m taking small steps along the way to increase my mileage and pace and strengthen my stamina. I don’t have the physical or mental strength to just get up one day and run a marathon. I might start running 3 miles, 4 miles, 5 miles gradually increasing my mileage each week, month after month. I’m mindful about what I eat and don’t eat, what I wear, when and how far I run, how fast or slow I go and how I feel before, during and after a run.
Thinking about school and how we prepare for leadership roles and leading a school. We take coursework and engage in professional learning opportunities to prepare for data informed conversations, how to work with and lead teachers, staff and scholars. We learn strategies to engage with all stakeholders and facilitate conversations, how to manage facilities and provide a safe environment for teaching and learning. And then it happens, the day you are running a marathon without notice or warning. It’s the day, you might not be emotionally or cognitively prepared, but you don’t have a choice. You know those days, when things happen and then something else happens and before you know it you are miles in and it’s hard to keep your breath.
For me, that was yesterday. I should have seen it coming. Driving to work in the morning on a two-lane highway, where you typically go as fast as the car in front of you, and that’s okay, EVERYONE was in a hurry. Cars and trucks passed one another as though they were standing still, crossing double yellow lines, passing around bends and curves in the road with no regard for speed or safety. I should have known the day would be blurred with fast paced decisions and questionable requests coming at me from all directions.
Yesterday wasn’t that different than any other day, it was just how I absorbed the information, took in conversations and how I let it weigh me down. Actually, I responded like some of the drivers who passed me earlier that morning. I fell into driving the wrong way and rolling through stop signs, allowing circumstances and things out of my control to get into my head. By mid-afternoon, this reckless behavior had drained me mentally and physically. I caught myself catching my breath, actually feeling out of breath and exhausted. Yesterday, I was completely unprepared for the race. I tried to draw on previous experiences and seek first to understand, but in the end, I left school exhausted, out of sync and disoriented. But mostly, disappointed because I allowed circumstances out of my control to get into my head and throw me off my pace.
Administrators and teacher leaders, what do you do to prepare for those days where you run a marathon without any warning?