I have always loved the expression, “I would run through a wall for him/her!”
Think about that...even if I could manage my way through a wall, how painful would that be? Assuming of course it is an actual wall and not a Hollywood designed prop that looks real but is really just styrofoam…
You see, I love that phrase because it illustrates a passion for the vision or person leading the way. After all, the idea of running through a wall usually comes within a phrase like…”I really don’t think I can pull this off, but I would run through a wall for him so I am going to try.”
In education, walls seem to pop up all the time that seem impossible to overcome...instructional gaps, curricular changes, campus/cultural changes, behavioral needs, social/emotional needs, and many more…while teaching truly is a powerful and meaningful profession, it comes with it’s own challenges. Many of which look like walls standing in our way.
In life, when staring at a wall we really have three choices:
A: Turn the other way and avoid it.
B. Try to find a way over or around it, yet not actually conquering it.
C. Charge right through, win or lose, giving it your all.
I think for most educators we want to take the third option. We don’t want to run away, we don’t want to skate around it, we want to get through it victoriously for our students. However, while most educators I know would be willing to tackle the wall, it’s often going to take more than themselves to take that first step.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of educators that are willing to take on challenges without the help or support of anyone else, but I think most need support or encouragement. That makes sense though...I don’t know about you, but if I am staring at a wall I would love to tackle it with a partner, or two, or three, or 100. Of course, that isn’t always possible. Often educators need to take on challenges with the encouragement of someone, yet in the end it is really between them and the wall...one on one...mono e wallo -
As a principal, there is nothing more difficult than knowing one of the people I love most in this world...any educator on campus...is staring at a wall. Yet many educators find themselves feeling alone when challenges arise. Of course, teaching is interesting that way...while most schools are built on the ideology of collaboration and team planning, the reality is that teaching is often an independent profession. Yes, you have students with you. Yes, you have teammates next door. Yes, you have an admin team, instructional coaches, and other support systems in place. Yet most of the day it is the teacher, the lone adult in the classroom, making countless decisions all in the name of ensuring each child gets an individualized experience based on his or her needs. Teachers must constantly make independent decisions, move forward, create meaningful moments, and be willing to take risks all in the name of student achievement...it’s this reality that often creates moments when teachers find obstacles, much like walls, and can feel very alone as they are deciding between options A, B or C.
I wish principals were given magic wands that made all challenges go away. I wish I could meet with a teacher and simply say, “Please share with me the challenge you are facing so I can make it disappear by the end of our conversation.” Sadly, that doesn't exist. Teaching is never easy, but always worth it. Yet there are times when things get difficult and walls can occur that just seem impossible to get through...
For me...I want my teachers and staff members to know that if they are staring at a wall, they will be sure to see me run towards it ahead of them. I want to be the person leading the charge, the one who does whatever possible to help him/her get through. While I know this isn't possible for every challenge that comes along, if I can take on the challenge with them I will. I will lead the way, or I will support them all the way through. Whether it is an encouraging word, a first step, a shoulder, or running forward side by side...I will be there.
In the end walls are always going to pop up, challenges will come, decisions will need to be made, and there will be moments in each educator's life when he or she will have to decide...do I run? Do I try to get around? Or to do do my best to push through for my students? I just hope when that moment does come for those at my school, they remember they are not alone, I will be there...cheering them on, running alongside, or rushing past to lead the charge as we try and run through the wall, together.