Anxiety to Growth

We are transitioning to a new evaluation system for both teachers and administrators.  This was something I shared with staff in regards to my transition to the new system.

“Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil.”

Many people often experience this general state of worry or fear just prior to confronting something challenging.  Something that means a lot to them.  Something that comes with some kind of judgement.  Anxiety is most often associated with a test, interview, public performance, or presentation.  The feelings that accompany anxiety are easily justified and normal.  At least that is what I kept telling myself when I began to read and digest the leadership framework from which I will be evaluated this year.  The more I read the more anxious I became.  The anxiousnes I felt soon transitioned to feelings of inadequacy as a school leader.  Especially after reading the first two rubrics:

Is proficient AND provides leadership and support such that shared vision and goals are at the forefront of attention for students and staff and at the center of their work; communicates mission, vision, and core values to community stakeholders such that the wider community knows, understands and supports the vision of the changing world in the 21st Century that schools are preparing children to enter and succeed.

“Is proficient AND establishes and promotes successful systems and methods for communication that extend beyond the school community; creates a productive feedback loop among stakeholders that keeps the dialogue ongoing and purposeful; methods are recognized and adopted for purposes beyond school; staff report confidence in their ability to engage in essential conversations for ongoing improvement; consistently communicates high expectations and standards for staff and students regarding ongoing improvement.”

This feeling of less than only grew as I read through the rest of the document and began my self-evaluation.  I remember at some point becoming kind of numb and detached to the process.  Maybe this was my way of coping with the anxiety I was feeling.

Little did I know this was just the beginning.  Not the beginning of feeling down and beat up, but rather the beginning of a new way of thinking.  After a few days of reflection I began to see the real beginning.  The beginning of a new challenge and chapter.  The beginning of truly embracing a new way of working and a new way of learning.  The beginning of promise.  The beginning of moving to real learning, real growth, and real improvement.  The beginning of a professional growth mindset.

This acceptance of the change in my thinking could be viewed as something I had to do.  Something that was required or that I was just conforming.  However, I didn’t see or think about it that way.  I saw it as a way of improving.  I saw it as a process that clearly defined what I needed to do to grow.  This was comforting.  All to often we are asked to change, adjust, tweak and are not given the pathway or resources to grow our expertise.  I am thankful that this is different. I am thankful the pathway and resources are built into the system.  All I need to do is embrace the challenge and be open to the change. I don’t see the change as a way of saying what I was doing was wrong, but as a way of seeing the promise of building on the skills that I have.

As we continue the transition to the new evaluation system there will continue to be anxiety and concern.  My hope is that the more we work with and understand the framework we will embrace the promise of growth, rather than worrying about conforming to the law.  We will need to support each other through this shift and help each other see the promise and potential of the new system to improve our craft and impact student learning.

I am excited about our work and couldn’t ask for a better team to do this with!

Taking a week off from giving an instructional tip and what I saw and am providing a link to a great TED talk by Tim Ferriss entitled Smash fear, learn anything.  According to the description, Tim’s talk is fun, encouraging and his anecdotes show how one simple question – “What’s the worst that could happen?” – is all you need to learn to do anything.  I agree, will you?


About Scott Friedman

Reflective learner who enjoys time with his family and cycling. By day, I am the Director of Teaching & Learning for the Nine Mile Falls SD.
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2 Responses to Anxiety to Growth

  1. Jan Iwase says:

    Scott, it is evident to me that you will be successful in this new system of evaluation. Initially, you did what most people would do when confronted with something new and different. But what sets you apart is that you got over the initial fear/apprehension and turned your attitude around. From apprehension, you went to acceptance, and then embracing this new change as an opportunity to grow professionally alongside the rest of your team.

    Thank you for sharing the video. That guy is amazing; I need to read up on him!

  2. Reblogged this on pause 2 play and commented:

    It’s refreshing to read about the new evaluation system in a “growth mindset.”

    I wonder, though, if the requirement for comprehensive evaluations provides that mindset. It requires documentation for hundreds of bullets under over forty criteria in the Marzano Framework. The original framework offered choice in growth planning; that framework would encourage growth and change.

    But like this dynamic principal, we look forward to a “promise of growth.” A promise. A hope.

    What hope do you see?

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