Aug. 27, 2023: Blocking Out and Letting Go
It was almost exactly a year ago when I posted a blog imploring the public to stop attacking teachers. Begging people to resist the urge to buy into the manufactured culture wars that politicians had created in order to attack schools.
Sadly, a year later, things have not improved. In fact, in many places, things are so much worse.
Yet as I start my 30th year as a classroom teacher, I can honestly say that my school is a great place to work. My colleagues are inspiring, dedicated, and resilient. The families are supportive, giving, and loving. And the students are curious, enthusiastic, and passionate.
This makes for a wonderful school culture. But more than that, there is also the (unspoken) focus of administration to deflect what they can. They are the buffer, when possible, between the outside world, and the universe inside our school building. Their priority is clearly to allow the teachers the space to do what they do best- to teach.
However, I think what will be critical to the survival of any teacher this school year is to once again, be sure to know, acknowledge, and practice Steven Covey’s Circle of Concern vs the Circle of Influence.
Knowing the difference between what we can control and what we cannot.
We can control the atmosphere in our classrooms. We can control the way in which we present lessons and materials to our students. We are in control of the relationships we build with our students and their families.
We cannot control state-imposed mandates. We cannot control the ridiculous laws that require us to remove some books from our class libraries, and prevent us from calling a student a beloved nickname.
Things that are outside of our Circle of Influence need to be let go. And that is not easy to do.
Yes, we can ultimately impact the state-mandates, laws, and priorities by our vote. That is within our Circle of Influence. It should be wielded with the passion and power that drives our work.
But in the day-to-day work that is teaching, we need to be able to let the rest of it go. Conserve our focus and energy for those things that are within our control and that can continue to make our classrooms places where students feel safe. Where they feel seen and can try new things.
Making sure our classroom is a place kids want to be!