Growing Pains

This is a repost of an article I wrote for Brett Clark's 12 Days of Dreaming series.

f you have kids, know people with kids, or work with kids, you know that they will face some painful days as they grow. First comes teething, which I’ve heard is a nightmare. Then, the awkward pubic years when bones are stretching faster than the brain’s balance centers can keep up. Years pass, our joints begin to ache when the weather changes, and we can’t heal up from injuries as fast or as completely as we used to.

The business of growing is difficult.

But, through all the pain, we learn a valuable lesson: pain and growth have to come together to be meaningful.

I don’t know many cyclists that learned to ride a bike the first time their parent let go of the seat. A scraped knee from falling off of a bike helps us learn that balancing is much easier when we’re moving forward. As we move through the pain of growth, we come to expect better things when it’s over.

Schools are a prime example of pain and growth. Students, you have stories about working through very difficult classes. Teachers, what about the student that tested you every day of class? Administrators, you can tell us about the first year teachers that have come through your building.

Pain is an indicator of growth.

Education is in a painful place right now. Schools and governments are polarized against one another over education. We are being blamed for many social problems, and there isn’t much trust in the state or federal leadership. Teachers are fearful for their jobs and the role testing will (or won’t) play in how we are evaluated.

Within the frustrations and the stress, though, we have an opportunity to implement better schools.

It is our responsibility to model growth to our students. Brainstorm with your colleagues on how to implement changes. Work with student advisory groups to solve problems. Encourage someone more frequently than you complain about a particular circumstance.

The attitude shift begins with recognizing that if there is no pain, there is no growth..

Don’t be soured by painful situations. Recognize the opportunity for growth and focus on the goal rather than the immediate. There is no silver bullet for any single problem. But, we can turn a lot of silver BB’s into a comprehensive solution.

Let us know in the comments what growing pains you’re having and what you’ve learned as you’ve worked through them.

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