Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Image via Mark Harkin [CC BY 2.0]
I remember watching some old movie or TV show when I was in elementary school back in the 80's (it was probably the kind of show my mom wouldn't have been happy to know I was watching.) In the show, the Bad Guys were trying to hijack a plane--they had guns!--but the quick-thinking pilot was able to save the day by pulling the plane up into a steep climb so the Bad Guys couldn't climb their way up the aisle to get into the cockpit.

Eventually, though, the plane stopped climbing, and "stalled." Now, 10-year-old me wasn't exactly sure what caused a plane to stall...but it was pretty clear what that meant: the plane stopped flying upward, nosed down, and began to dive back towards earth. Of course, this was great adventure on the show, because it meant that the Bad Guys went tumbling forward toward the cockpit, banging their heads and getting knocked out.

Meanwhile, the passengers were safely buckled in their seats, screaming about the plane plummeting toward the ground, and the editors cut back to a shot of the pilot and co-pilot straining as they heaved on the control sticks to regain control of the plane. Of course, they were able to level out and land safely, where police officers met the plane on the runway to take the Bad Guys away.
Such a great story, right? The Bad Guys got what was coming to them. The heroic pilot probably got the girl--honestly, I can't remember, and my pre-adolescent self probably didn't care about that part anyway. The passengers were saved from the horrors of who-knows-what. All due to a stall.

There are times in my teaching practice that I feel like I am climbing and climbing and frantically trying to do more to some how stay ahead of the Bad Guys seeking to hijack my heart and mind. What Bad Guys? Insecurity. Fear. Worry that I won't be able to handle the difficult student, the challenging colleague, the content that rattles me.

Teaching, as I regularly remind the future teachers I serve, is not for the faint of heart! I know that the task of teaching is much, much greater than me. And yet, the Bad Guys attack...and I fight back in the best way I climbing higher, pushing myself, trying to do more.

The honest truth?

Sometimes, stalling is the best thing you can do to defeat the Bad Guys.

Scary? Absolutely terrifying.

Are you going to plummet right into the ground? Will you be able to pull up in time?

Stop trying so hard to climb on your own, and get yourself back on the ground. That's where you'll find the troops really ready to help you take down your Bad Guys.

Instead of trying to keep climbing on your own, don't be afraid to stall...and get your feet back on the ground.

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