The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will.
--Grateful Dead, "The Wheel"
The cliched image is that of feeling as if one is caught on a hamster wheel, spinning faster and faster without moving forward. Lately I feel as if I can see the wheel moving forward in the distance, leaving me not stuck in one place but certainly falling further and further behind.
I can identify numerous reasons for this feeling suddenly hitting me, although all have been building. I am reading How Children Succeed, months after many other school leaders have read and commented on it. Meanwhile, my Amazon wish list continues to lengthen. Twice someone has suggested to me we use a design thinking approach and I agreed, hoping I grasped the basics enough to keep up and learn as we went. Then comes the announcement that Google is going to shut down Reader, the rss aggregator that I have relied on to sort the rush of blog posts I like to scan. Yes, alternatives exist; it's just having to switch that causes the angst. I want to try various apps, I want to follow more people on Twitter, I want to blog about this and that. Meanwhile, we hear the calls for innovation and transformation and revolution.
I'm not whining about this. (Well, maybe a bit.) Normally, I even thrive on this. I also support loads of changes for education. at the same time, for whatever the reasons I am feeling otherwise right now, it has provided some much needed reflection on leadership. If the torrent of things can overwhelm me at times despite my predilection, then I need to remain especially cognizant of how others may be feeling. I also wonder about some other points. When change occurs at Mach speed, what sticks? Do we maintain our core? How thoughtful are we through the process? Are some talented, dedicated people being swept aside and left behind?
Educators and schools--everyone, really--must keep evolving. Perhaps now more than ever. Yet we also need careful discernment. The kind that can lead to wisdom. Otherwise, the wheel will keep spinning forward, but we may still feel trapped.