Today was my first day back at work after a long and exciting summer holiday. I started my break by flying back home to Toronto and spending time with my family and friends. My partner then met me there a couple of weeks later. It was his first time in Canada and meeting all the important people in my life. Needless to say we both had a blast (how can you not in Toronto in the summer?!?) and then twelve days later we flew to Northern Ireland – where he calls home. It was my first time there so we spent many days exploring both the North and the South, marvelling at the natural beauty all around us. It was a great experience, but towards the end I felt ready to go back to work and get into my normal routine.
Now having said that, I may have spoken too soon.
Let’s just say the day didn’t go as planned. Knowing that we’d have many long meetings today and little time for personal planning, I had intended to get up early and be at work around 6:30. Well that sure didn’t happen! I don’t know if it was jet lag or nerves, but I could NOT sleep last night! I went to bed at 10, slept for 2 hours then was up until 4 and needless to say when my alarm went off at 5, I quickly put any thought of getting up out of my mind. By the time I finally left the house it was 7:00 and I intended to take a taxi to the school bus, stopping off to get a coffee on the way. Well that sure didn’t happen! The taxi driver acted like he knew where I wanted to go when I got in, but really had no idea. When I finally caught on that this guy was lost I had him drop me off somewhere familiar. Needless to say I ended up missing the bus and had to pay ANOTHER taxi driver to take me the rest of the way to school. At least I got my coffee. When I got to school I figured I’d stop off at my mailbox then pick up the package my mother had sent me from Canada full of personal items. Well that sure didn’t happen! Said package has mysteriously “disappeared” from the building. I got an email saying it had been delivered to my room. It’s not in my room. It’s not in my colleague’s room. It’s not in the 50 other rooms I wasted all day searching. Crap.
Not a great way to start the year.
Then the staff meeting happened and things changed. After a hilarious entrance, our head of school gave a speech that made a bigger impact on me than the dry ice, choreographed dance moves and matching outfits. He said, in a much more eloquent way, that it is ok to fail. He encouraged us to try new things and not be afraid if they don’t work out as planned. He reassured us that the leaders of the school were there to support us in our journeys to become better teachers and to provide better learning opportunities for our students. The status quo is simply no longer an option. Change is necessary and inevitable. It is better to try something new and fail, he said, than to give in to fear or apathy.
It was the first time I was happy all day.
In my introductory blog post I wrote about how the fear of failure paralyzed me. And here was my head of school telling me not to be afraid, to embrace change, to try my best and to go for it. And so on Friday when I see my students for the first time I will remember his words as I introduce them to a new and hopefully better way of learning biology. I will go from being a perfectionist to a risk-taker. I may fail. I may succeed. Whatever the outcome I will treat it as a learning experience and grow from it, knowing I have the support of my leadership team.
I have found my confidence. Now I just hope I find that darn package.
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