My 7th grade son was at basketball training this week and his trainer was giving them advice about "Information overload" and spending time listening to what motivates and inspires you. He asked them, "Are you choosing to spend time on SnapChat over reading a book that makes you better? How often to you miss out on opportunities to be better because you weren't listening to what was happening around you because you are consumed with what is in front of you? Do you hear me?"
We are all consumed with what is going on in front of us right now as administrators, teachers, parents and students.. There is a lot coming at us all at once. That "information overload" is real. Sometimes we have to stop and listen to what is happening around us. For the past three weeks I have been meeting with teachers, students and parents to discuss how we can make the high school experience more accommodating for teachers and students. The reality is, the pace we are working at as teachers and administrators is not sustainable. Emotions were high, ideas were flowing, ears were open. I could see the passion in everyone's faces and the energy in their ideas. It was important to stop everything that was going on in front of me and listen. I could hear Ryan's coach saying "Do you hear me?"
It is a critical time to stop and listen to what others are saying. This is certainly not a normal school year and the expectations placed on teachers and students are not always realistic. We are all trying our best to make this current situation as meaningful as possible and no matter how much we want things to be "normal," it just isn't the case right now. Information is coming at us fast and furious with health updates, regulations, changes to schedules, technology needs, attendance issues....and the list goes on. The information overload is real. "Do you hear me?"
Sometimes we all need to be reminded that these are children that have their world turned upside down. This is hard enough for us as adults. Yes, as educators we still have a responsibility to our students to provide them with the content knowledge they need to be successful. However, before we take a look at that next unit in the curriculum that is in front of us, or that next test that we have to give, stop and listen to what is happening around us. Teachers, much like parents, are balancing their own personal lives with ensuring that their students are learning to the best of their ability. As administrators we must listen. Students, at all ages, are trying to figure out how to stay organized, manage their time, maintain relationships and yes, maybe even help feed their families. As teachers, we must listen. Being that listening ear is critical now, more than ever as teaching, learning and every day life is changing. Our students provide us with as much inspiration and motivation as we hopefully provide them. As we come upon the close of the end of the marking period for many schools combined with the items that are all over our news (pick your topic), it is a time that can be "information overload." Are we all listening? It's important to ask each other, "Do you hear me?"
Stay strong. We are all in this together.
The past several months have certainly got me thinking. There have been personal triumphs, professional challenges and family experiences that had me pause and reflect on the importance of the little things in life that very often get taken for granted. A hug, a handshake, a high five all were once things that happened on a daily basis that are now something that I think about. Eating indoors, large crowds at football games and crowded school hallways that were never something I thought much about now become things I long to have happen again.
The last several months have taught me some valuable lessons personally and professionally. In my Principal role people have often told me that being a Principal is a lonely profession. To be honest, from March to June (and on Wednesdays) it was (and is) lonely. Working in isolation, learning in isolation, teaching in isolation is not easy. There is strength in numbers. Having students and teachers in the building for the past five weeks has been really AWESOME. You have made me stronger. You have made me better. You have made me realize how much I miss what I sometimes took for granted. After five weeks, I think some of us do long to go back to "normal" with fast paced classrooms, not knowing what "virtual students" are and seeing the hustle and bustle in the hallway. There is no denying that the last five weeks have been hard. However, there has been something normal, for me, about them. Learning, growing and being with you and our students in this place has been what I was missing. It has taught me to appreciate what we have, while we have it. Continue to be a symbol of hope for our students, for each other.....and yes, for your Principal. We are stronger together! #pantherstrong
Richard M. Hayzler
A life long educator and current Principal of Pequannock Township High School in NJ, Rich is excited to share his ideas and thoughts about education and how we can change the world for our students and our staff.