There is a gospel song that I like with the following lyrics: "Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test." In recent weeks, I have found myself telling many of my colleagues and friends in education this same message. And if I am honest, I had to tell myself this message just today on my drive home from work. Each of my colleagues and friends that work in education made the decision to do so because they have a passion for education and the communities they serve. The passion is why I did the career switch from the legal field to education. I want to use this post to encourage other professionals in education. I understand the struggle of staying true to your passion, setting high standards, but still having to battle those within and outside of the education system on a daily.
My first piece of advice is to remember your "why". Remembering why we as educators do what we do is vital for sustainability. Although this is an exciting time in education with LCFF/LCAP, there are some situations you will need to encourage yourself through in order to sustain your professional standard and remain effective for students. Let me state a few of those obvious situations: bureaucracy; policies and practices that are not in the best interest of student learning and development; ineffective leaders/educators; emphatic resistance to change; lack of funding; lack of accountability; or lack of vision. These are common situations that discourage the best of educators. I will not even touch on the petty issues that cause major distractions to progress such as co-worker sabotage, incompetent/ineffective/insecure leadership, middle school drama at the workplace, or misguided intentions. Remembering the why helps to keep us committed when the distractions, obstacles, and challenges come full force, and back-to-back.
My second piece of advice for educators is to connect with like-minded educators. It can appear to be a lonely campus or district office when you seem to be at it alone. Having like-minded colleagues is important to accomplishing small and big goals. Not to mention, having a professional sounding board is a great checks-and-balances. You must believe in yourself, because others are bound to doubt and discourage you. And when you struggle with believing in the mission and plan, your like-minded colleagues will bring you back to center.
Last piece of advice is know when to unplug and recharge. The work of an educator is extremely rewarding, but can also be quite draining. Most educators have endless patience for students, but have little to no patience for the adults that work within the system. Find your happy place and go there. A recharged educator is an effective educators. I know it is hard to do, but do not take anything within your day personal because personal matters follow you home, while professional matters stay at the office.