A Challenge and a Mystery: A Moment of Reflection

This is the home stretch, Team; count downs to summer are in full effect. Testing windows are closing. End of year events are starting to appear on (and in some cases, take over!) the calendar. Just the other day, we got the first email about what needs to be packed up for the summer, and the weather is finally saying, yes – it’s time for a break. 

I know that for many of us, it’s all we can do to drag ourselves across that finish line. But I urge you to join me up here ‘on the balcony’ as Heifetz and Linsky say, authors of The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, for a moment of reflection. Survey the scene below you. Yes, you have less than 30 days to go, and that also means you have taught for over 150 days this year.  That’s 150 days of math skills and reading comprehension, but it is also 150 days of inquiry and exploration; of compassion and connection; of new understandings and moments of joy. So pause for a moment, Dear Educator. Can you see the bright spots from this past year? Do you see the wins and the growth your students – and you – have made – in spite of ALL OF THE THINGS? You were tested in extraordinary ways this year, and I know that some of us spent some time considering other professions.  And yet. Here you are. The end is in sight, and you keep showing up, and because of that, the world around you is just a little better off. 

I recently read a book by Wiliam Ayers from 2010 called To Teach: The Journey of a teacher. I devoured his prose over the April vacation, and his words reaffirmed my beliefs about education.  There is nothing in here about instructional strategies or using data or what belongs on an evaluation tool. His book is a call to action for “crusading teachers” (p. 20), and he reminds us of this: 

“The work of a teacher– exhausting, complex, idiosyncratic, never twice the same – is, at its heart, an intellectual and ethical enterprise. Teaching is the vocation of vocations, a calling that shepherds a multitude of other callings.  It is an activity that is intensely practical and yet transcendent, brutally matter-of-fact, and yet, fundamentally a creative act.  Teaching begins in challenge and is never far from mystery”  (p. 135).  ~William Ayers

As you look back on this school year, I’m sure you can see elements of Ayer’s description throughout- sometimes all of those adjectives listed above describing one day!  This year started in a monumental challenge and will end with the mysterious revelations of our own resilience and growth. Thank you, as always, for sharing your magic with the students in your care and your entire school community. Let this brief pause provide the fuel you need to finish strong.  You’ve got this. 


Ayers, W. (2010).  To Teach: The Journey of a teacher.  Teachers College Press.

Heifetz, R. A., Linsky, M., & Grashow, A. (2009). The practice of adaptive leadership. Harvard Business Review Press.


With more than two decades of experience in education around the globe, Kristen Moreland is committed to bringing humanity back to education. A former middle school English teacher and Instructional Coach, she is currently serving as the Director of Teaching and Learning for the Littleton Schools in Littleton, New Hampshire. She joined the NHASCD board in February 2022. You can follow her on Twitter @kmorekin and on Instagram @educatorsforhumanity