Friday, May 30, 2014

I bet you aren't alone

What a week!  I can't begin to explain the roller coaster that was my week.  What I can tell you is, I bet I wasn't the only one that had a stressful week.  I imagine many of you had a week that made you scratch your head or leave feeling exhausted.

It is very easy to get stressed or overwhelmed this time of year.  I don't believe I've encountered one educator that isn't feeling the end of the year crunch.  This time of the year I try to do a few things to help myself remain sane.  I'll admit I'm not always successful at doing them...but I try.

First, I try to slow down and live in the moment.  For those of you that know me you know I'm analytic and reflective.  I often reflect on situations and conversations that occur during the day. This is my chance to keep it in the moment.

Second, I try not to work in absolutes.  By nature I'm not an extreme person, but this time of the year I hear things like, "I'm done!" or "If I never..." or "This year has been..."

These statements lead to extreme feelings.  This week I had a few parents contact me with both fantastic comments and not-so fantastic comments.  I love to celebrate the greatness, but I also realize I have to listen to the constructive.  The negative conversations typically lead to a discussion, and during these discussions I try to focus on a few shining moments.  By shifting the focus I have changed the tone.  As we look back on the year, many of us would have a mixture of highs and lows.  Let me whisper something to you...that's life...rarely is everything perfect, or on the flip side, terrible.

Third, I try to praise those around me.  This one is my favorite.  The more I praise the individuals around me the better I feel inside.  In fact, when I feel down and out the quickest way for me to get back on my feet is to do something for someone else.  If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed I encourage you to take the time to write a colleague or friend.  Let them know they matter to you.

Four, find a release.  This is another one that I struggle with, but it is crucial to my own mental health.  All people need an outlet, a getaway, a release.  For me, I run, I exercise, I golf, I spend time with my family, I read, I try to laugh and I focus on my faith.

Finally, (and this is my toughest) I ask for help.  This time of the year I fully realize I cannot be everywhere.  I often times don't have all the answers.  Thank goodness I don't have to.  I'm surrounded by fantastic people that will support and assist at a moments notice.  This time of the year it is imperative to not try and do it all.  (Special thanks to my #eduvoxer friends for talking me off the ledge this week.)

Everyone is different when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety.  Here's a story to sum it up.  As many of you know I enjoy running and I occasionally dabble in local races.  Some time ago I was finishing up intervals (speed work) with my good friend Eric.  I was absolutely whipped.  (Oh you know the feeling...hands on knees and gasping for air.)  Eric slapped me on the back and said, "Nice job." I heaved out, "I feel awful."  He then responded, "Good!  Don't you know every one hurts in a race?"  I didn't respond, but I thought about this.  He was right. Anyone running for a strong time was clearly in a spot of bother.  I relate this to education in this way...right now everyone is stressed and feeling overwhelmed.  Adults are running low on patience, kids simply want to be out for the summer.  These are the days that we must slow things down, stay in the present and enjoy our final days.  I guarantee students will feed off of your attitudes, if you shut it down, they'll shut it down.  If you maintain high expectations they will continue to give good effort.  Attitude is everything!

Our time is dwindling with students, I hope you will choose to go out smiling and remembering the greatness that has occurred during the year.  I, for one, know the good times have far out weighed the stressful ones.

This week's big question:  How do you best deal with stress and anxiety?


Monday, June 2nd:  Kathy Sharp retirement breakfast
Monday, June 2nd:  Turn in names for Volunteer Lunch
Monday, June 2nd:  1pm 1:1 Tech Meeting at Admin
Tuesday, June 3rd:  3rd Grade to Mackinac
Wednesday, June 4th:  3rd Grade returns from Mackinac
Thursday, June 5th:  2nd Grade to Impression 5
Friday, June 6th:  Grades 3-5 morning assembly 8:45am

Panthers Podcast:

Episode 4 - Nicole Kelly

Panthers Podcast Blog

Articles Worth Reading:

Should Educators Talk About Summer? +Justin Tarte @justintarte

What drives You? +Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal

The value of everyone else +George Couros @gcouros

This is what learning looks like +Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

9 Videos for Teachers to laugh, cry and feel inspired +Erin Klein @KleinErin

Much More Than A Field Trip +Daisy Dyer Duerr @daisydyerduerr

What do you LOVE about teaching? @PrincipalHowell

The goal should be: Not To Finish @ugafrank

30 Lessons to Excel in Life in your 30s and Beyond +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

Nerdcamp is coming July 7 and 8 to Western high School...have you signed up? (4 min)

Brian Regan talks flying... (7 min)

A speech that will surely make you think... stay hungry, stay foolish (14 min)


  1. Once again, perfect timing. I think you make a good point about recognizing that everyone is going through stress and exhaustion right now is spot on. Expecting or assuming otherwise would be crazy. I think we as leaders need to hold the wheel with a firm hand and realize that students and staff are stressed. We need to listen, we need to console and as you wrote, we need to thank them. We also need to continue to lean on each offer for support and advice. Thank you again for the right piece at the right time!

  2. This really captures what most schools are going through right now, except for us in Georgia that are already done for summer! To me, the leader needs to simply be there, present in all capacities. Staff will look to their leaders as a guide for how to handle this stressful time, and it is paramount that we lead by example. However we may be feeling on the inside, we must project outwards a collected mentality that assures others that this, too, shall pass.

    Thanks again for a timely post!

  3. Such wisdom, Ben! It's true, this time of year demands the best from us as school leaders, and it's certainly good to be reminded that we are not alone. It's also always so important to adhere to your points outlined, all so positive, to keep our focus. If we stay keyed in on our students, our staff, and living our passion and "paying it forward", we really can't go wrong.

    The people around you - family, students, and staff- are very fortunate to have your energy to fuel them. And so am I, along with the other members of our PLN. Finish strong, Ben, and thanks for helping me to do the same!


  4. I love the part about dealing with stress by saying positive responses to people and I especially agree with the article; "Should Educators talk about the summer?" Unless you are in education, feeling its daily speed, you wouldn't understand the need for a summer break. Thanks for sharing. Those comments bug me on social media.

  5. Always great advice! I will be sharing with my staff, supporting the idea that we are not alone. I always appreciate your insight on so many educational topics. Enjoy the finish to the school year!