Wow, what a year (and then some) it has been. For everyone. My last blog post was dated August 11, 2019, and it’s been absolutely crazy. We have all been struggling to stay mentally, physically and emotionally well during Covid.
On top of that, I started my very first leadership job as a PYP coordinator in August of 2020.
And on top of all of that, I gave birth to my daughter in November of 2019.
So, what a year (and then some) it has been!
And so, I have been thinking quite a bit recently about this blog post and what I have been wanting it to be and am writing based on my own personal experiences of being a new (ish) Mom and a new (ish) leader, and the parallels of both experiences. This post is not going to be a ‘feel good at the end’ kind of story, it’s going to be a ‘sharing’ story about the pitfalls of both roles and how desolate it is when you are learning something new. I am not looking for advice on either role (I have surrounded myself with amazing people that truly care for my growth in both), I am just writing this for the purpose that one person may find themselves in this situation at some point and feel the same.
We are continuously inundated with the notion of a ‘growth mindset’. We hear about it in interviews, in situations of hardship, and we teach and preach it to students, but how often do we (as teachers) get to actually experience it?
I’m not talking about learning something new at the age of 8 where the learning experiences of that situation are eclipsed with the outcome of success. I am also not talking about a situation when we as adults learn to do something better, like continue to do a hobby and get continuously better at it. What I am talking about, and what my experiences have been for the last 16 months has been situations of being completely overwhelmed with my own inability to know what to do next, or knowing what to do next but not knowing how to get there.
In the above diagram (Originally created by James Nottingham/Adapted by Ms. Bennett from http://breckschool1b.blogspot.com/2017/02/february-update.html) of the learning pit it talks about the large portion of ‘getting it wrong’, and there is a large chunk of time (that fluctuates) to when you actually move on to ‘understanding a little bit’ and from my experience recently, it is just awful.
When we first brought our daughter Jorja home from the hospital I remember just feeling so responsible. She was underweight (born at 4.7 lbs) and possibly 5 weeks early. She took a long time to gain weight and size and for the first few months I was literally camped out in the ‘getting it wrong’ pit. I would move towards the outer edges and climb a bit up, then would feel like I would just plummet down and be back to ‘getting it wrong’ again. I remember being so anxious each time she would be weighed as I was so caught up on numbers and hope. And each time, I would be left with just a numbing feeling as I slid back down.
And that brings me back to my new role. I have been dreaming of this role for a very long time and am very lucky to be at a small school and am surrounded by senior admin that have mentored and supported me. I am also fortunate to have such incredible supportive professional friends that I can reach out to at anytime to ask for advice. However, and with no fault of anyone else’s, I have left meetings and other situations to come into my office to have a good cry about where I am at in regards to the learning curve. I had a rough streak in October/November where I wasn’t able to communicate efficiently and was in the awful inbetween stage of making a mistake, but not correcting it, apologizing for it, or changing my behaviour. And that was awful. And there I was again, making my own little nest at the bottom of the learning curve.
These two new roles for me have been an interesting journey, especially as it personally has been a long time since I truly learned something new and had to go through the challenges of the ups and downs.
The bottom of that learning pit can be a sad, depressive and self-loathing time. I am in no way completely out of the learning pit of being a Mom, or being a leader, and I don’t necessarily feel like I ever will be fully out and that at times I will slide right back to the bottom. However, I will remember that next time I talk about the joys or the need of a growth mindset, my recent experience of being in the learning pit may be empathetic to others (students and teachers) who are also at the bottom.