Don’t fear about being left behind

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This past weekend, I hit a milestone, I actually had my 20th High School Reunion. Oh yes, back in June of 1996, I made the fateful walk and concluded my days of high school and moved on to the next stage of my life. Something about reunions in any form is when you see old classmates, friends or peers and play a game of catch up. The usual: “What have you been up to?” “How’s life?” “Who is this?” Something that many of my former classmates found amazing when I told them what I had been doing the last few years and how I’m working towards finishing up a PhD. Many were surprised, but very happy for me. Saying that sometimes it just takes a while to get where you want to go. Some very powerful words.

Over the last seven years since I switched gears and moved into education, I had more of a fear of being behind in things. No, it’s true, being in both education and technology, there is always that FOMO (fear of missing out). Many times I hear from others going: “Why aren’t you done with school yet?” “Why haven’t you written an educator’s book?” “Why don’t you have a true maker space?” “How come this person is making more than you?” “Why don’t you go to more Cubs’ games?” Ok, that last one was more of a personal thought, but you get my point. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about HyperDocs and wondering where they had been living and never thought or heard about it. Since they were a main chromebook/G Suite district. I simple told them, you can’t know everything. Then they told me, I seem to and I just answered: “No, I just trying to listen on what is going around me.” Of course if you ask my wife, I need more work in the department. My point is, sometimes you have to be open to hearing about new or old things and not be afraid to think you are being left behind.

Many times I have seen myself facing that exact fear. I’m trying to complete my new state license and it feels like newer teachers coming right out of school are having an easier time than me, while I jump through endless hoops. Someone mentions a new teacher book I should read, but I don’t have the funds to even get a digital copy right away. The worst is when I have a family member tell me I’m not forging ahead more in life because I’m not doing anything “new” enough in my field and that can really sting somedays. I have to confess, those get to me on some days, one moment you feel like you are doing great for your students, peers, family, mentors, ect. and other times it just takes one picture, word or conversation from someone that can make you feel like you aren’t doing enough, but here is the truth. It’s ok.

We work in a field where every day can being both a blessing or a curse. Where your wi-fi is working great one moment and the next moment you wonder if you ever had any classroom management skills at all. We tend to think the worst case scenario, so that way when something doesn’t really work out the way we had hoped or planned, we aren’t too disappointed. Of course, if we start to use that fear to guide us, then as Dave Burgess said: “It will zap your energy like kryptonite.” It’s ok if you didn’t hear about the latest teaching strategy or don’t have the latest gadget and it’s ok if someone figured out something before you did. There is a time and place for everything we do or what we want to do. It’s called learning for a reason. We do it every day and while it may feel that we aren’t making the progress we want to be making, we are still moving forward. The worst thing you can do, is give up or let other’s tell you to stop when you know it’s not the right decision, but we do it anyhow to make them happy. Yet, is it making you happy?

I think the hardest thing to do in anything is finding what makes you happy and then sharing it with others. It took me fifteen years after graduating high school to find what made me happy and in the last five years I have come even furthered, but there is still much more to do, but it’s ok if today isn’t that day where the magic formula clicks for everything. That day will come and there will be even more days that will make that day seem very ordinary and the next extremely extraordinary, but that doesn’t mean we have to worry that we will be left behind in the process. As my favorite quote goes:

“Our dreams are beautiful, our fates are sad, but generally day by day our lives are pretty funny.” So, enjoy them.”

~Michael Cristofer

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