“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop”
As someone who is passionately committed to the belief that the power of education is transformative, I often find myself pouring over blog posts, listening to podcasts, watching TED talks, reading journal articles, whiling away time on twitter with my fellow PLN, attending PLC’s and talking about education at every opportunity. Yep, I am a bit of a tragic. I don’t apologise for it, but I have found that on some days I feel like Alice down the rabbit hole and on others, Dorothy trying to get back to Kansas.
“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
There’s something similar in the journey of both iconic characters, now immortalised in the pop culture vernacular for what I hope will be an eternity – their journey was one of self-discovery, with so much learning along the way. They met so many different characters and it wasn’t always immediately apparent to them, how or why meeting that character would help them achieve their goal. At the end, like a lovely mosaic, it all just seemed to come together and they were able to reflect on their experience, having come away from the experience so much wiser.
I have found that my experience of education, at times is akin to the experiences of both young protagonists. I don’t want to recount tales of my early years of teaching , as you can imagine there were many panaceas offered in my early years of teaching and like Alice, down the rabbit hole, I too would take the advice of others in order to make sense of the school context. Thankfully, my journey through those early years was made somewhat easier because of some fabulous mentors. I am eternally grateful to those women.
“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
Being a leader in a school offers immeasurable rewards. There is such privilege and responsibility, but there is such scope for creativity and for problem solving… two of my favourite things – which brings me to the title of this post. Some days, after reading and talking about education I feel that there’s so much to do, so much that could be done – that I feel there is more that I should know, more that I should be taking on, as part of my journey. There are some days when I open my mail at work, that I feel I’ve run into somebody else trying to sell me a solution to the many issues we try to solve in schools on a daily basis. I receive never-ending literature about pedagogy, learning spaces, differentiating the curriculum, integrating technology, literacy, numeracy, improving spelling, technology infrastructure, the pd courses that promise to turn my teachers into experts in individualising the curriculum for students, behaviour management, grading, assessing, reporting and of course, the HSC, the Australian Curriculum and NAPLAN.
“It was much pleasanter at home,” thought poor Alice, “when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down the rabbit-hole–and yet–and yet–…”
Some days, I feel that there is just so much to do, that with our finite resources we have infinite possibilities for self-improvement. It can be a little difficult to manage the competing interests and at times, like Alice, I would have liked someone to give me the quick fix. What I have come to learn this year, is that like Dorothy, the answer is often not in somebody else or some panacea, rather it’s in me and the journey that I’m undertaking is allowing me to realise that leadership is about navigating the competing interests whilst remaining true to my values as a teacher.
“If we walk far enough,” says Dorothy, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”
I can only hope that like Alice and Dorothy, I can continue to remain open to opportunities and possibilities, even when the path does get hazy. In this way I can only hope to discover more about myself as a teacher and a leader.