“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll,
For those of you that follow me on twitter, you already know that this blog has been quiet for two big reasons. Christine Hertz and I are working on a Really Awesome new project together (we are on the home stretch!), and I’m also now a new mother, Working on the book with Christine has taken most of my writing time, but occasionally an idea comes up that needs its own home. This is one of them.
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, literally NOTHING could have prepared me for the joys and challenges of pregnancy, birth, and the first two weeks with a newborn. Never in my life have I felt like things were more impossible, and then did them anyway.
There was a definite point in labor when I thought, “Nope. Impossible.”
But there was no choice, so I had to do it anyway.
There was a point the first night home, screaming baby, crashing hormones, dead of night, when I thought, “Nope. Impossible.”
But there was no choice, and we made it through anyway.
The sleep deprivation: nope, impossible. But there was no choice, and it happened anyway.
If nothing else, this experience (so far) has made me realize that “impossible” is a relative thing. As a matter of fact, I think I often confuse the words “hard” and “impossible”. The limits of what is actually possible is far greater and bigger and wider than I ever dreamed.
So as I sit and stare at this little guy, who is finally asleep (I know, I should be too, but its not in the cards right now) and I think about the kids I have taught and all the impossible things they have already accomplished before they come to school, I question the way I have perceived and reacted to things like challenging behaviors, benchmarks, changing bias and school culture, and I wonder, “was it really impossible or just outside the spectrum of hard that I am comfortable with? What id I stopped thinking of impossible as a choice?”
I think we have to really start with the premise that nothing is impossible in the classroom and for kids. Things can be hard, really hard, so hard they feel impossible, but that doesn’t mean it is. It can feel impossible and still get done anyway.
Now I am wary of “kumbaya” teaching, by which I mean, bite size, t-shirt ready slogans about the power of positive thinking. We can all sit around and say, “Nothing is impossible!” and then act as though certain things are beyond our ability to change- the lack of diverse books, the elimination of play in schools, the overly heavy emphasis on academic over social emotional skills. Saying you can overcome difficulty, is not the same is overcoming difficulty.. We all need strategies and practical supports. So what is the strategy for overcoming the “its impossible” feeling? Maybe it goes something like this:
- Admit it feels hard, almost impossible- don’t shortchange the struggle, but don’t let hard stop you
- Take any step in any direction, if its the wrong direction, you will have at least eliminated one possibility
- Find a support group: online, on twitter, in your school community and problem solve, don’t go at it alone
- Cry as needed (this one is just for me, right now, but you can adopt it for yourself as well)
- Take another step/action/attempt
Making change in the world can feel like a “nope. Impossible” moment, but we can still go ahead and do it anyway. Every day we overcome an impossible and realize it was just merely harder than we thought it could be,
As for our book, it will have loads more on making powerful change in classrooms and school cultures. As for me, I look forward to doing as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast (showering being one of them).
And to the makers of the perineal ice pack, good job.