Four years ago, my oldest son was finishing up his first cycle of summer swimming lessons. All went very well for Mason until it was time for the final lesson of the year. Anyone who has taken their child to swim lessons knows of the infamous "diving board lesson." Small children are expected to climb to the edge of the diving board and jump into the deep end of the pool. There are four year-olds who enthusiastically run up to the board and immediately spring into the water. There are others who have fear all over their faces and must be nudged, pushed, pulled, and dragged. Mason Butler was one of those four year-olds, as can be seen from the picture above. I am happy to say that he did go off the diving board with just a bit of assistance.
As I was preparing for the beginning of the year kickoff with all staff members last week, I couldn't help but think about this picture and how it relates to the change process. There is one constant in the field of education and it is change. Our profession is constantly evolving with the application of new research in an effort to better serve students. The change process is often accompanied by many emotions: excitement, fear, anger, hope, and shock are just a few of the feelings educators experience as new initiatives, programs, and activities are implemented. This year has been no exception within my school district, as we are examining various components of guided reading instruction and trauma-responsive schools. It is uncertain what the future will hold, causing similar feelings to Mason on the diving board.
Change is inevitable and I'm not sure we want to prevent it if we aim to be our personal best. In all improvement efforts, we are going to experience fear of the unknown, just like my son. As you move forward this year, I challenge you to embrace the fear if you are in Mason's position on the proverbial diving board. Understand there will be people on your team like the male lifeguard in the picture. They will be there to provide safety, embrace the fall, and guide you with where you need to go. Also keep in mind, there will be people like the female lifeguard who provide the necessary nudge, push, or aggressive shove. Embrace the people on your team who are there to help you become the best version of you. Dance with the fear, embrace the ride, and have a tremendous year.