If anyone out there is still reading this blog, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything of substance for a while (exactly how long, of course, is in the eye of the subscriber). That’s because I’m stuck – I can’t figure out how to get there from here. I work in a great high school with a terrific staff, wonderful students, and a supportive community – and at the moment I don’t see any way to make the changes I think are necessary for our students. Please note that I’m not saying my school is performing poorly or that the teachers aren’t working really hard and doing some really good things. By traditional metrics we are doing very well and we have a hard working, dedicated, creative staff that gives their all for students. I’m just having a really hard time figuring out how to transform my school within the current system.
So I haven’t posted anything lately because I feel like I don’t have anything useful to contribute to the conversation at the moment. As an example, I just got back from NECC which turned out to be a less than stellar experience for me. Let me be perfectly clear, this is not the fault of the conference, it’s me. The conference was the usual mix of some really good sessions, some sessions that from my perspective weren’t quite as good, and lots and lots of informal conversations. But I felt like I got very little from the conference and contributed even less (and I think those are probably very related).
I think it’s telling that the two best learning experiences I had at the conference actually occurred before it officially started and after it ended. On Saturday I had a multi-hour conversation with Chris Lehmann, Marcie Hull and Bud Hunt. Then on Wednesday on the flight home, I had the good fortune of being able to sit next to Bud and have a two and a half hour conversation. In between those two conversations very little learning happened for me and I sunk deeper into my “funk”. Again, that isn’t the fault of the conference or the attendees - it appeared to me that most other folks were having a great experience and there were certainly a plethora of opportunities to learn - but instead is a result of my “stuck” mindset. And that worries me tremendously, because if I’m having trouble learning from a collection of really smart people gathered together in one place, then I’m really in trouble.
Now, I hesitated before posting this because I was worried about how it might be interpreted. This is the first post of mine that I can recall that is pretty much just about me (others certainly included me, but had some other reason for being), and I’m sure some folks will ask what is the purpose of this post. Well, the purpose is not to have everyone leave encouraging comments (although I suppose those are better than disparaging ones) or to say nice things to buck up my ego (it doesn't need much help). Rather, the purpose for me is twofold. First, on a practical level, some folks had been asking about my lack of posting and this takes care of those queries. But second, and more importantly, I’ve always advocated for transparency and I think it’s really important to share out the struggles and the doubts as well. At some point in the future when things are hopefully looking brighter, I’ll be able to look back at this post and remember how it felt – and that will hopefully help me get through any future episodes of “stuck-ness.” (And, of course, if things don’t improve, this will neatly mark the moment when it all fell apart.)
Now, some folks will simply see this as confirmation that blogging is a narcissistic pursuit, but I’ve always subscribed to the notion that blogging is essentially a selfish activity anyway. I mainly blog to help my own learning, although I certainly believe (and hope) that it helps contribute to others’ learning as well. So, while you are always welcome to leave whatever comments you’d like, please don’t feel compelled to leave either supportive ones in order to cheer me up, or withering ones in order to castigate me for my self-absorption. I get it. Really. I’ve already mentally left myself both sets of comments multiple times over the last few months. Rather take this post at face value – it really is just for me.