Monday, March 23, 2015

Can we just "Chill?"

Despite my best efforts, I've been losing touch a bit with popular culture. I'm an elementary educator, though, and one of the many great things about working in public schools is that being around young people helps me to stay "in the loop", minimally of course in my case, with the current lingo. I'm lucky to hear some of these words/phrases at both work and home, because my daughter and son are in the same age range as the students I work with every day. One of my favorite words that I often hear, especially from my fourth grade daughter, is "chill." She'll often say, "Daddy, can we just chill today?" Given all of our busy schedules at home, I'm happy to chill whenever we get a chance to. I think we need to do the same in schools.

I recently re-read an article by Caryn M. Wells (2013) in which she discusses the different pressures that school principals need to handle on an almost daily basis. The changing accountabilities, political and public scrutiny, and dwindling resources often lead to stress and burnout, which causes many principals to leave their schools. Wells discusses how the job of a school principal continues to get bigger, and I would have to concur given my experiences leading schools over the past seven years. Many educators, however, don't want to or aren't ready to leave, which is why I think it's the perfect time to just chill.

I'm not suggesting that we take it easy. By stating that I think it's the perfect time to just chill, I'm suggesting that we need to remember that we are educators whose priority is to improve learning for all students. If our students are progressing and learning every day, then we need to put those other stressors behind us. Getting worked up about what the governor says or administering the next standardized assessment isn't going to help us to help our students improve. Rather, it's likely to hinder that process.

So, can we just chill? Maybe this will help.

Please share your comments and thoughts below.

Wells, C. M. (2013). Principals responding to constant pressure: Finding a source of stress management. NASSP Bulletin. 97, 335-349.