Tomorrow, an epic journey begins. My family will be leaving
Arizona on a thousand mile trek to central Kansas for the holidays.
While anxiously anticipating the outcome, our trip is accompanied
by a certain degree of trepidation–for good reason. We will
begin with the vehicle loaded beyond capacity. Luggage.
Gifts. One seven year-old kid. One cat. One
Beagle. One hyperactive West Highland Terrier. It is a
recipe for a grand adventure, or it is an impending disaster.
Tonight, as I was loading the car, I could feel my anxiety
level rise and my attitude shift from hopeful to hopeless. When we
are faced with challenges en route to a desired outcome, how often
do we (or those we work with) go down this proverbial road with a
defeatist attitude? This can be difficult to avoid when
there seem to be more roadblocks than avenues to success.
In the world of education, there are
a plethora of obstacles to prevent pessimists from being
successful, or even making an adequate
effort. A few of the excuses you are
likely to hear:
- Why don’t the parents do more
- These kids are lazy.
- They should have learned this in (fill-in-the-blank)
- There isn’t enough time.
- If they would only do their homework.
- I don’t think the kids care about their own
- When a students home life is so
bad, how are we supposed to help them at school?
- This is just the latest educational fad.
- Standardized testing limits my ability to provide
Don’t get me
wrong, several of these are legitimate obstacles to our success as
educators (much like a West Highland Terrier on a trip to Kansas).
However, obstacles can be overcome,
while excuses represent permission to do
nothing. A few days ago, Tom Altepeter
(@tomaltepeter) shared a quote on Twitter that struck a chord with
To worry about something you
can’t change is useless; to worry about something you can change is
stupid. ~ @dchrzan
We can worry (or make excuses) about
all of the perceived obstacles and roadblocks that prevent us from
doing our job, or we can utilize the opportunities presented by challenges as impetus for positive change.
After all, isn’t that what we ask our
students to do?
the obstacles that stand between me and a relaxing trip to Kansas,
I am going to try to turn adversity into opportunity for an
adventure. Wish us well. Happy Holidays to