In my estimation, there’s nothing worse than feeling stuck. I can feel denied, dumped-on, pinched, pressured, misunderstood, marginalized…they’re all lousy places to be…but none of them are as demoralizing as feeling stuck.
Because unlike all of the other aforementioned possibilities, being stuck is something I can only do to myself. When I think about it…looking back on all of the situations in which I have felt stuck in my past, I was really only stuck in my thinking. My working (or non-working) definition of “stuck”? Being unable to see other options; boxing myself in, a victim of my own fears, assumptions and misconceptions. When I get out of my own way, I see more options.
In a time of heavy regulation, accountability and public scrutiny, it’s easy for educators to feel stuck. Whether it’s in their position, their access to resources, or their ability to influence things for the better, feeling stuck is a lousy place to be for professionals wanting to make a difference. The only way out? Shake if off. And if you can’t shake it, work around it.
Think of working with students, helping them tackle miscues in reading or math. Left to their own devices, they repeat the same approach over and over in the hopes they will get a different answer, and frustration and resignation eventually set in. Yet with our help, providing alternate strategies to work around sticking points, they learn to cope, adapt and find pathways to success.
Grit. Resilience. Perseverance. The same qualities we seek to instill in our students, we must cultivate in ourselves, in order to rise above wherever we feel stuck.
So, how stuck are any of us, really? If you could knock down what’s walling you in, or climb up on a colleague’s shoulders to look off into the distance, what’s out there that you just haven’t been able to see? If you can open your thinking to alternatives to what you’ve been doing, how could the next year look differently for you?
This is my hope for you, as we celebrate the end of this year and welcome in the next; to be unstuck…to feel empowered to help make a difference in your life and in the world around you. Because once you and I see all the options available to us, nothing is impossible.