Category Archives: Growth & Productivity


A friend gave me a shirt that says Teaching is Progress not Perfection.

One of the kids noticed it today, pointed it out, and intentionally grinned and said, “I like that.”

I have felt like I am floundering for several weeks. I know I can wing it in the classroom, but I don’t like having to do so for more than a little while. I am able to build fairly good relationships with kids easily–street cred goes a long way and kids are inherently good-hearted and grant grace in buckets.

This morning, I got up before God after sleeping like the dead from pure exhaustion and the panic set in quickly after I took the dog out.

Getting up at 430 in the morning should be plenty of time.

It’s not.

The realization that I had eleventy-billion things to do, no copy paper, little sense of direction, a long list of to-dos sorted and arranged in my head, no time to do any of them, emails to catch up on, and also had to people far before I felt ready to caused a Jessie Spano moment. (No, I didn’t sing or scrunch my socks above my high-tops…but I did make damn sure I took my supplements and anxiety meds.)

I don’t like feeling that way. I prefer, as a friend puts it, to “not embrace frantic.” Teammates have been fabulous, preparing slide decks as a jumping off point with critical things included, granting grace for missed meetings, and allowing me to disappear to get other things done in the few moments available.

So tonight I sat and reworked slides for tomorrow in a way that brings me a little normalcy, rethinking how the last two days have gone, what I’ve missed teaching, what I’ve done well, and what I’ve forgotten entirely.

I’m thankful for the gift of past experience–my kids taught me well. And this new batch is helping me remember and get into a groove that suits them too.

We’re creating a system for our work together, I said this morning. We’re creating systems that work for us in this space together so that we can function and learn and grow. No, our brains aren’t doing a lot of heavy lifting just yet but they will…once the foundation of our systems are in place.

A tree needs roots to grow…but it’s progress…not perfection that helps it grow strong.

Beware the Ides of October…

To engage in work that impacts the world around me positively so that others can grow, learn, and honor one another.

Several months ago I put words to my Why after many lengthy chats with friends and mentors. I’m realizing that it’s important to revisit it now and then because it’s pretty easy to forget when things get busy.

October is a good time, for the record. A very good time indeed.

October is the time of year when administrators and office staff start taking bets before the first bell rings on how many visits from children struggling to meet behavior expectations there will be when the barometer drops and the weather changes. It’s the time of year when teachers are balancing getting sick with taking a day off to catch up on grading or prep–is it possible to stay home to do both and still be productive? It’s the time of year when all the professional development conferences are scheduled to ensure that guest teachers remain employed until February when they’re needed again for the second round of PD conferences. It’s the time of year that the words “They’re dropping like flies!” requires clarification as to whether it’s referring to teachers or students, sickness or other things…

I requested the opportunity to work offsite last week to catch up on a few bigger projects that are best worked on with little interruption. I go home at night with best intentions, packing my bag with things I’ll need, thinking I’ll *totally* work on them when I get home, only to sit down and fall asleep on the couch, flanked by furs without jobs and something edible from a bag that probably isn’t good for me. There’s just no energy left in October. It’s as though it gets sucked out of me overnight between the 30th of September and 1st of October. Energy vampires are real, trust me.

I felt the need to revisit my Why this week in particular after looking back over the past couple of weeks to make sure I hadn’t missed something, revising task lists and project needs while I was working offsite, and coming across a quote in my planner that said,

“People lose their way when they lose their why.” ~Gail Hyatt

When I requested an offsite work day, it was out of sheer desperation–I’d lost my way completely. The task list grew longer by the minute, the requests more frequent and requiring more immediate addressing and cognitive power to problem solve, the nights later with event after event, and the time to get things done by deadlines shorter. I’ve never been great at setting boundaries or asking for what I need, but in looking at my Why, I could see the connections to it in all the things I was trying to fit in. That helped a bit to reframe the overwhelm I felt.

October is when some feel as though they’re getting into a groove with their work. I always felt that way in the classroom with my Tall Poppies. I knew my kids, knew where they were academically and such, knew where we were headed together to learn what was needed by the end of May, and had the ability and confidence to change lanes quickly and roll with things when I needed to. I haven’t felt that way about my current role at all in the last four years. Tasks get added and changed and removed, my role advancing and receding like the ocean against the sand. I never seem to know where I stand or which boss I answer to in the moment.

Taking a minute to sit with my Why has helped reframe it all though: To engage in work that impacts the world around me positively so that others can grow, learn, and honor one another.

My Why is a journey, not a destination; often it seems there is as many construction-related detours to navigate as there is real-life construction within the city limits. I need to remember that it’s ok when I need to request an offsite work day to help me move forward on the journey.

The reason we do this Big Work.