I hit “publish” on my very first blogpost on December 6, 2015 and this post will be my 248th. That first post was called “My Infuriation with Education” and I was SO nervous to publish it because it felt incredibly vulnerable. That post recounted how I graduated from high school not knowing what career I wanted but knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I never wanted to step foot into a K-12 school again. How then did I end up dedicating my life’s work to education? Here is a paragraph from the post to explain:
I ended up volunteering in my aunt’s first grade classroom. I walked in for my first experience, I felt very intimidated. After a few minutes of interacting with the students, especially one snotty-faced curly-haired cutie pie, I was hooked. I looked at their faces and felt a tremendous responsibility to do my best to make sure that their school experience inspired them, challenged them, and set the stage for a limitless future for each of them. I realized that if I became a teacher, I could make sure that I would have one year to do that for them, and I decided I knew my fate and it was far from what I had pictured.-Rookie-blogger Allyson (I even used double spaces between sentences!!)
This poorly-written paragraph sums up my why for being an educator. And it is the reason that I am NOT ready to toss in the towel. I hesitate to say this because it goes against the grain amongst educators right now, but here goes: I am doing okay. If everyday I can go into work and contribute to a culture of joy in our school, if I can make sure every interaction I have with students is loving and supportive and if I can support teachers in seeing their own genius, I am fulfilling my purpose. Reconnecting with my why and focusing on carrying-out my purpose has helped sustain me these past couple years.
Do I pray for systemic changes, for an end to the divisiveness, for equal access for all, and for trust in our schools? Daily. In the meantime, I am doing my best to focus on what I can control, which are the interactions with the beautiful people I encounter every day. I am willing to make calls to state legislators about bills and appropriations to advocate for our students. I am happy to have conversations with people I disagree with, if only to understand their perspective. Because I am one of the lucky ones who believes with my whole heart that others are doing the very best they can in the moment with the information they have. They are not out to get me, they looking out for their own benefit and the benefit of their family. Even when it seems misguided.
Those of you who know me probably know that I fell in love with the idea of serendipity back in 2001 after watching the Serendipity movie. It became a mindset over the years because I have found that looking for happy accidents and beautiful lessons in everything we experience contributes to a wiser, more fulfilled, and happier life. When this pandemic started I challenged myself to become a better leader because of the difficulties we were facing. I had no idea how to be a “remote” principal or how to navigate the tumultuous times, but I knew that I could learn and grow while I was figuring it out.
I will continue to focus on these two questions as the adversity keeps coming:
- How can you fulfill your purpose today?
- How can you become a better educator because of the challenges you are facing?
Cuz’ I’m not givin’ up, I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up, no not yet
Even when I’m down to my last breath
Even when they say there’s nothing’s left
So don’t give up on..
I’m not givin’ up, I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up, no not me
Even when nobody else believes
I’m not goin down that easily
So don’t give up on me-Andy Grammer in “Don’t Give Up on Me”
We can take care of ourselves and continue in our very important work. We are stronger than we know. And, thank goodness, we are in this together.