…(which is unattributed as far as I can tell) is one that caused pause the first time it crossed my brain. My initial reaction to this was in regard to what happens to the early-service teacher upon logging that first real week as leader of their own classroom. Let’s start by making the assumption that even the least-excited first year public school teacher comes to the profession with a measurable amount of idealism. I don’t think there is any doubt about what happens to this focus once the new car smell of the school year wears off.
What might these metaphorical “crocodiles” be? Difficult students? Perplexing policies? Wearisome course loads, a dearth of resources, demanding curricula, scarcity of support… oh my? I’d like to see a Venn diagram that would represent the “crocodiles” for teachers against those of school administrators. Not so fast… I’d also like to see this from the student perspective as well. The more I think about this, I’m betting that a diagram of this sort would be rather telling. I’m always of the impression that creating such constructs to forward discussion and debate only helps to clarify the landscape of our issues. I think I just gave myself another assignment. That will have to wait for now, but I’m hoping this post won’t let me forget.
The real question here, in my opinion, isn’t whether or not the endeavor of professional education today is a formidable one. The real question is what do we do to keep our eye on “the swamp?” Once the blinders are off, once you’ve hit that first wall, once the challenge clouds your vision, what do we do to stay focused? I’d be interested in creating a string of advice for teachers or administrators to consult on that first wearisome Monday afternoon when vision seems clouded by the fog of frustration. Care to play along?
Take a few minutes to ponder. Craft your response as a comment below. Share your strategy. It’s possible you haven’t yet identified it. And yet, from what I interpret about the readers of this blog… you do have one. You do something. You think about something. You tell yourself something. You have some way of turning a negative into a positive. You have some way of maintaining your vision in tough times or you wouldn’t likely still be in the learning business… spending time reading blog posts from folks far away yet loosely tied.
You have a way of focusing on the swamp- even when the crocs are waist deep. Help build a set of reminders for our colleagues who will surely one day need them. It is a sad thing to hold onto that kind of advice. Share.
Artwork*Quote: “It is hard to remember that you came to drain the swamp when you are up to your backside in crocodiles.” by some cool old guy… I wish I knew whom.
*Image: Canine Friends/ Vietnam, Mekong River by flydime on Flickr. *Image: 14 More Days by Chris Martino on Flickr (amazing- this could not have fit the post better). .