You might not have thought about this, but we are all walking a tightrope each day in our roles within education. When my youngest son picked up the picture book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers I first met Philippe Petit. Naturally I immediately recognized this man’s insanity. Upon closer examination, this is a person who recognizes his constraints, pushes back on them as he likes, and prefers to overcome the impossible whenever he can. And isn’t that what we are all supposed to do?
Wherever you are, you are balancing on a tightrope of your own. And it is fair to assume you know some things about that tightrope and your own balancing act.
Where is the Tightrope?
Which two points are you moving between? The intentionality of your movement requires extreme concentration, but the enormity of the journey is not known until you define where you started this journey and where you end it. There can of course be journeys within journeys, but each journey can be honored with a defined beginning and an end.
Which Way are you Walking?
Which direction are you heading? A fair question which we do not always ask ourselves, are we heading the direction we chose, or are we slipping back and losing some ground? Once you know the distance and rate you can define your speed.
How quickly are you moving? With direction and speed you have the velocity at which you are propelling yourself toward your goal. Now it is getting exciting!
Don’t Look Down
How high are you? Everything has a scaled up impact when educators discuss the impact on students. Trust your training and experience and do not scale down your efforts to minimize any potentially adverse effects on students. Many students crave an epic effort from teachers – and who has the audacity to try this if not you? Don’t look down, keep your eyes on the end you have defined and have faith in your velocity.
Is there a safety net? Educators make up a consistent fraternity; but you do this daily walk alone. Alone in the sense that you have access to all of our collective empathy, wisdom, and hope. But you walk by yourself daily. If there is a failure we will pick each other up after a fall.
What Happens Next?
What happens next is up to you. How greatly will you dare? How close to impossible will you try? How will we bring each other along?
As you take your first step onto your tightrope, as Philippe Petit said in his TED Talk about his first step into his walk between the Twin Towers, move into
the universe of the clouds, so full of unknown, we think it is empty