Ten years ago I started wearing reading glasses, a.k.a. magnifiers. Nothing fancy, just the $5.00 kind you’d find in a well stocked hardware store or pharmacy. One pair sufficed at the start, but I quickly realized I was spending way too much time looking for that one pair. Now I have seven perched on important surfaces in my home and work. There’s also a pair in the car—you never know. Another pair of glasses I’ve worn as far back as I can remember are the rose-colored type. I didn’t realize I even wore such glasses till a former fling of mine in a heat of emotion told me to “Take off your rose-colored glasses!” She later explained what they were.
I like my reading glasses, and need them to function. However, I love my rose-colored ones, and can’t imagine life without them. They’ve come in handy so many times; especially when the odds were stacked and the journey seemed impossible. I’m finding those rose-colored glasses critically important now as we all grapple with RTTT, legislative mandates, and a pending funding cliff. In the oftentimes frenetic pace of school reform, I worry what might happen were I to lose those glasses. You don’t just go to the Five and Dime and pick up another pair. In many ways, they are irreplaceable. They make up the core of our being, and propel us through the obstacles that appear in our lives.
My thoughts that prompted this blog entry were the product of a morning visit with a friend and fellow Glens Falls YMCA early morning regular. He’s a local administrator in the region, and like many, is feeling the pinch of doing more with less. We lamented the challenges that lie ahead, the lack of time to get it all done, and the roadblocks in our path. We commiserated in our beliefs that children deserve the best schools we can create, and that Race to the Top holds the promise of improving what we do in all public schools. “When you get right down to it,” he said, “it’s just something you do because it matters.” I wonder if he knows he’s wearing rose-colored glasses?
The present churn in public education is unprecedented, and it’s during these stressful times that people’s anxiety bubbles over. Stress is fear of the unknown, and there are many unknowns (and fears) yet to be elucidated in this wild ride called RTTT. My advice to friends and colleagues is to focus on the Common Core Learning Standards and Annual Professional Performance Review for teachers, distribute the leadership to empower others and lessen the load, and don their rose-colored glasses. For those ahead of the curve, a deeper dive into Data-Driven Instruction is merited. Regardless of one’s readiness, sometimes we need time for clarity. This is one of those moments. So, if you’ve misplaced your pair of rose-colored glasses, or the spinning plates are starting to wobble, focus on one or two things and do them real well. Clarity will return.