It’s A Struggle

It's A Struggle

I’ve spent about a year actually engaging on Twitter. It took me a while to come around to the idea that I could not only find time to engage, but also find that time was well spent.

In that time, I’ve learned more than I could imagine, connected to educators all over the country (no small task for this introvert), and begun to share on my own via Twitter (@aaron_hogan), this blog, and Voxer (aaron_hogan).

But with so many options for engaging online, it’s been pretty easy for me to walk a comfortable path for throughout much of that experience. Sure, there’s certainly a great deal of hesitation that accompanies the first time you jump into a chat or the moment when you finally, after great hesitation, hit publish on your blog. Those were big moments for me, but those risks dealt with the process, not the content of the conversation.

What I’m realizing is that one of the down sides of having so many great conversations to join is that you don’t have to have the hard conversations if you don’t want to. You don’t have to talk about the parts of education that are hard, or you have the opportunity to talk about them at a distance in terms of risks and vulnerability without tying those to a particular, personal issue. I think it’s time for me to start to dig into those topics a little more.

One example of what I’m talking about is the idea of the “I’m in classrooms for an extended part of my day” administrator.

I can’t remember an idea that I’ve been so drawn to yet so unable to realize in practice.

My failure to put this into practice, or even to put a first step into practice, really weighs on me, and I find myself struggling with a lot of different emotions when I hear principals talk about being able to be in classrooms so much.

I’m jealous of their time spent with students, the relationships developed there, and, honestly, of how easy it all looks on this side of a Tweet. At later points, that turns to hope for a future new normal for myself, but that can seem like it’s awfully far off in the distance at times.

I hate that this is my reaction. Really. I struggle with that.

I have a great deal of respect for what these educators are able to accomplish day in and day out. I’m awed by their impact on students and campus culture. I’m spurred on by their willingness to do the job differently than many educators, yet I find myself in this fearful pattern that takes some work to shake.

And so I start with something small (read that as “easy” so I can have a little success on the front end). Maybe I’ll try to add an hour, just a class period a few days this week. But when that, too, doesn’t pan out, the defeat that’s left feels pretty final. I just feel foolish that I can’t make it work.

It sounds so easy. If you want to not be in the office, just don’t be in the office, right?

Well, I can’t seem to make it work.

Admittedly, I don’t see as many assistant principal voices (or at least I don’t identify many as such) talking about being able to engage at this level with students; maybe this isn’t part of the job I’m doing now.

But I feel the weight of it, and I want to grow into this habit as a school leader. I don’t think I’m alone, but it doesn’t make it feel any less so at times.

Though I’d gladly take any pointers on getting out of the office, that’s really beside the point here. I guess I’m sharing this to say this: Living through the struggle, the emotions, and the effort to rise up out of that feeling that comes when you’ve tried and tried and continue to fail is worth it. I think it’s important we hear that not only from the people who have conquered the mountain, but also from those who are standing at the bottom looking for the path.

As you grow and work through failure, you’re not alone. I say that for you and as a reminder to myself.

You’re not alone, and it’s worth it.

6 Replies to “It’s A Struggle”

  1. […] almost didn’t post yesterday’s blog. I wrote it, read it, thought it didn’t read clearly enough, and nearly deleted it. But […]

  2. Scot Wright says:

    It’s a struggle for me too. I have good intentions but just can’t seem to make to make it work.

  3. Donna Bingaman says:

    Aaron- Thank you for sharing! It is so important to share not only our successes but our struggles too. I do really well at being in the classrooms for awhile, but then the office pulls me in. I just keep trying. That’s all any of us can do!

  4. I might be an outlier, but as a teacher, I want to see an administrator in my classroom more. In the past year, an administrator has been in my classroom 2 times and those were an official observation and a walkthrough. No attention from administrators may be seen as a good thing–but I know that I can improve and am willing to learn. I want feedback just like my students. Continue to try to make it–I think it is good for admin, teachers and students for administrators to make it a habit to be in the classroom.

    1. It’s quite the chicken and egg situation at times. I appreciate you sharing this. I know that similar sentiments are out there, but it’s helpful to hear it.

      I actually made it into several rooms on Friday, and I really enjoyed the experience.

  5. Hi Aaron, your words remind me why I made the decision to step away from leadership and embrace my career as a classroom teacher again. I had a number of different experiences in leadership positions and all were rewarding and challenging. However, at the end of the day I simply could not overcome my desire to connect with students in a way that only a teacher can achieve. We all have to chart our own course but it can be difficult trying to come to terms with the idea of stepping into a different role. I know that one issue for me was my contact with students was often in a disciplinary or crisis related capacity and although I felt that I was able to shoulder this role, I did not get to see students at their best. Change happens at all levels within the educational system – perhaps as servants of the system we must be cognizant of our desire for change as well.

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