Jen Robinson Uncategorized

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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?


Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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  • Sandy Merz

    A runner friend posted on Facebook a pair of untied shoes and the quote, “The hardest part of any run is lacing up your shoes.” I find that’s true. I tackle things – if I have any authority over the oder of work by doing something easy, then something else, over and over. Right now, my weekend will be a marathon I know from experience that I could blow off every single item on my 28 item to-do list – which includes commenting on blogs. But I “swallowed the frog” and started on the least pleasant, and after completing three other items, and making comments, I’ll do three or four more that will only take 5 – 10 minutes a piece. Then I’ll change my setting and so some more. And every couple of hours I’ll take a long break. Hope that helps.

    • Jen Robinson

      Thanks Sandy – Great idea tackling a few things at a time, then stepping away to breathe. Your to-do list sounds a bit like mine. But you offer some great strategies – thanks!

  • Rachel Perugini

    This whole week felt like a marathon- between coaching and meetings and teaching, I’m usually at school from 6 until 6; today is the first day I’ve had to actually relax. But, there are definitely some things I do to make it through those non-stop days. I make sure I actually take a lunch break and don’t try to multitask. I set aside some time before bed to read; even just a few pages makes me feel like I had some “me-time.” I make a lot of hot chocolate and tea when I’m home because it helps me relax when I’m working. When it is a marathon day, it takes some effort to prioritize that me time, but I try my best.

    • Jen Robinson

      Hi Rachel
      Thanks for sharing. Seems like those marathon days are the days I forget to take time for me… or that time gets minimized. Great reminder.

  • Amy Casaldi

    When I find myself in the midst of running a marathon without any notice I focus on the goal and what needs to be done to meet that goal. When it is finished I celebrate with something that relaxes me or fills me up, such as time with my family.