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There’s been a storm brewing inside me, clouds moving around my heart.

Something’s changing that I can’t see.

I’m stuck in what I know is safe but not yet where I’m supposed to be.

I feel the call of something more.

-Karen Drucker, The Call of Something More

Are you feeling restless? Do you have a dream for what your life as a teacher leader could be? Do you have a crazy idea that is just waiting to be brought to reality?

You’re not alone!

Recently, I’ve had many conversations with people who feel like they are being called to do or be something more. They have a sense of restlessness. Something bigger wants to be birthed.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the experience of teachers who want to be more than assembly line workers in the industrial-age education machine we know as school. These teachers are highly intelligent, articulate, well read, accomplished and skilled leaders. While they love teaching, they feel a call to do more: to teach and lead their school, their district, and their profession.

Are you one of those teachers?

Expansion is Inevitable

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud

was more painful that the risk it took to blossom.”

-Anais Nin

In nature, when an organism stops growing, it dies. I believe that this is true of the human spirit as well. Our lives are designed so that we are always growing and expanding. And when it is time for us to expand beyond our current condition, we feel a restlessness begin to develop. We start dreaming of possibilities and playing the “What If?” game.

Often times, however, we also begin to squelch those dreams and ideas before they even have a chance to get started. In your head, these thoughts might sound like:

  • “Well, THAT will never happen.”
  • “Who do you think you are?”
  • “You don’t have the ______ for that.”  

But the more you push those feelings of growth down, the more “painful” life becomes. At first you might experience fatigue or sadness. Left unattended, you may begin to experience issues that show as dis-ease or symptoms like headaches, back pain, or worse. Continuing to deny your soul and dreams may become so painful that you find that you MUST move forward to survive. 

So now you might be asking yourself: where do I begin?

Know What Makes You Come Alive

“Feel yourself being quietly drawn by the deeper pull of what you truly love.”

-Rumi

People often resist moving forward because they believe that they don’t know what the next “thing” will be. This is especially true of the teachers who I described above. Usually they have no interest in becoming a principal—but for far too long, the only way to move “up” in education was to move “out” of the classroom. So teacher leaders often find themselves knowing what they DON’T want, but not what they DO want, because it may not exist.

Like Rumi says in the quotation above, tap into what it is that you love. You already know that thing that gives you energy rather than draining it. It is the thing that you do that makes you lose track of time. It’s the thing you do for so long that, when you look up, hours have passed. It’s the thing that makes you come alive.

When you align yourself with what makes you come alive, the universe rushes in to support you and your abundance. Too often, though, we squelch our dreams, thinking they are silly or that we can’t make money pursuing them. What if that crazy idea is just what the world needs to make a quantum leap forward? And what if your dream is exactly what you came here to do?

Ask yourself: what would I do if I knew I absolutely could not fail? Then begin it!

Our human hearts seem capable of infinite expansion

when we find the work that is ours to do.

And that is a delightful feeling.

-Margaret Wheatley, So Far From Home

9 Comments

Precious Crabtree commented on March 24, 2014 at 11:11pm:

Overwhelming emotions

Dear Lori, 

I am not sure whether to cry or to jump up and down...  I am in bed writing this while my husband sleeps- so I guess I better not jump up and down.  I am overwhelmed with emotion and will  try to articulate a response that is as meaningful to you as your blog was to me. 

The storm has been brewing inside my heart for years.  I have been a leader in my school system and in my association for a very long time, but yet I yearn for something more.   

.I. Adore. My. Kids.  All 700 of them.  They inspire me, challenge me, and bring me hope that the future will be bright no matter how dark the world may seem at times.  And yet I yearn for something more...  

.I. Love. Leading. I fill my plate with leadership roles that allow me to support others, represent my colleagues, and develop my leadership skills. I am always open to new opportunities and experiences in order to grow but I haven't pursued administration certification because I don't want my hands tied politically nor do I want to lose touch with the realities I fight so hard for every day.  And yet, I yearn for something more. 

.I. Believe. In. Public. Education!  There is not a waking moment that I am not thinking about how I can improve as a teacher, how I can contribute to my school and county, how I can help the community understand what our schools are really like, or how to continue fighting the external pressures to submit to things I know are not right for students.   I work to exhaustion, and yet I yearn for something more.  

Your blog, along with the beautiful quotes, hit home at so many levels.  It is who I am. It is who I want to be. It is who I can become.  I have felt trapped by the walls of my classroom for too long and now is my time to take take risks in order to blossom. 

An encouraging prompt from a colleague led to me to apply for our state Award for Teaching Excellence.  In a few days, I will  be recognized by my peers at the Virginia Education Association Convention as the VEA's 2014 recipient. It has been a humbling experience, but also one that has helped me grow tremendously and fueled my passion even more! 

I am truly ready to lead in new and innovative ways in spite of the voices that say " I am not smart enough" or "can I really contribute in innovative ways?"  Yet I know in my heart that I am ready for something more... And I. Need. To. Leap. Forward. With. Everything. I've. Got. 

Thank you for reaffirming that belief!   

Lalla Pierce commented on March 26, 2014 at 1:16pm:

Love your three loves!

Precious,

You did a great job of responding and congratulations on the VA award! I wholeheartedly concur with your three "loves." Great stuff.

Thanks,

Lalla

Lori Nazareno Lori Nazareno commented on March 26, 2014 at 2:02pm:

Leap and the net will appear!

Congratulations to you on your award. I know that it is very well-deserved! How might you use the traction from that experience to propel yourself forward into your greater-yet-to-be? Stay alert to the doors that will open as a result. Oftentimes, these are exactly the places where we need to leap!

So, if you could design EXACTLY what your next adventure would be, what would it look like? What would you be doing? How would you be a benficial presence in the education world and the larger community as well? And, remember that you can invite those voices that tell you that you are less than you are to take a vacation...for a LONG time.

Thank you so much for your passionate and heart-felt comments. Leap, my friend! There is something AMAZING that will result and we will all be better for it!

Deidra Gammill commented on March 24, 2014 at 11:54pm:

Not Alone

Thank you, Lori, for giving me a sense of belonging with your blog post. I've been experiencing the same restlessness you identify and yearning for some way to contribute and move forward as a profession and as an individual teacher. I have been, however, reluctant to share this restlessness for fear of being the only teacher who struggles. Your beautifully written blog reminded me that I am not alone in this restless search for something more. Thank you!

Lori Nazareno Lori Nazareno commented on March 26, 2014 at 2:07pm:

You're never alone!

Hi Diedra,

I have talked to so many teachers lately who have this restless feeling. I think that this is also a sign of the times as people beyond thos ein education are feeling the same way. We know that the current structures are no longer serving us. Those of us who are called to do and be more have a tremendous opportunity to shape what the future will look like. So, what does your greater-yet-to-be look like? I'd love to learn more about your vision for yourself!

Deidra Gammill commented on March 29, 2014 at 7:11pm:

Thanks for the affirming

Thanks for the affirming response, Lori. BTW, I really enjoyed meeting you in DC a few weeks ago. The Teacher Leadership Initiative has done a great deal to help me as I begin to define and articulate what it means to be a teacher leader and how I might fit within the greater design of this brave new world we're forging for our profession. I know what I would like to accomplish (or rather, be part of accomplishing), but what my role might be is still unclear. I talk a good game, but the unknown is a scary place. That's one reason I am so grateful for the CTQ and the collaboratory.

Allison Rapp commented on March 26, 2014 at 1:06pm:

Not alone

You nailed it!  So nice to know I'm not the only one squirming...

Lalla Pierce commented on March 26, 2014 at 1:17pm:

Awesome!

Lori,

This is a beautiful and well-written articulation of the feelings many of us share. Thank you!

Lalla

Lori Nazareno Lori Nazareno commented on March 26, 2014 at 2:09pm:

Thank YOU!

Lalla - thanks so much for your kind words and all that you do to serve our kids and our profession! Best, Lori

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