Row, Row, Row … Your Boat

I struggle.

I’m struggling.

We all feel good and bad at times – we can feel in control and we can feel completely overwhelmed, but right now, I keep falling into a valley of sorts. I struggle to trust administration and educational leaders. I just don’t think they get it at times. And I try to see and understand things from their perspectives, but when I do I seem to arrive at thoughts of incompetence and a growing detachment between them and, well, teachers. Maybe this is a sign that I’m done – that I’m washed up… no longer a team player. Maybe it’s a sign that I’ve diverged from the common pathway…


I have diverged!

But how and why? Was I left aside by a rapidly changing system and bureaucracy or did I leave them behind. I suppose the safe answer is, “Both.”

(Did I take the red pill or the blue pill?)

I struggle with my colleagues – who are themselves struggling. When together our crests sometimes combine to new heights and manic ideology and our troughs to pessimistic lows. Many times our highs and lows just cancel each other and create a straight line of status quo, which is good and bad I suppose, depending on your perspective.

Sometimes, however, I feel like I’m in a boat that leaks and passengers rowing from only one side. The coxswain attempts to correct, but the rowers know better. They continue to row and direct the boat in circles. Oh, did I mention the boat was leaking?

Water rushes in, the boat circles, the coxswain yells and corrects, two rowers drop their oars to focus on the water issue, but as they do so they slam into each other with a colossal, bone jarring force. Another rower hears the coxswain’s directions, pulls his oar and starts to move to the other side of the boat, but in doing so he trips over the wounded passengers that slammed into each other and hits his head as he falls down the side of the boat. Five or so seconds pass then, dazed and confused, he rises, yells some ineffable fight cheer (you know, like the one from Braveheart… “FREEEEEDOM!!!“) and then attacks the coxswain, who nervously begins shooting flares from her flare gun into the air in an attempt to effect a rescue of sorts. (I suppose)

But, alas, the only response comes from aggressive sharks of various shapes and sizes (and number of visible teeth) and from one of the misguided rowers who – in all the excitement – has decided to drop his oar and send the following tweet to his 42 followers:

“Having a wonderful time working with my colleagues and soaking up some rays. I’m looking forward to the catered lunch and prize giveaway. I hope I win!”

The assault on the flare gun wielding coxswain ends when the attacker can no longer see due to the blood flow from his head wound drowning his eyes. He rather calmly sits down, leans over the side of the boat, and then dunks his head into the water to rinse away the blood. We’ll get back to him in a minute…

The two that smashed into each other sit on the bottom of the boat and tend to their various aches and pains, when they notice that the leak has stopped – somehow. They have no idea how, but it’s plainly obvious that water is no longer rushing into the boat. High fives and mumbled cheers ensue.

Now, back to the bathing bloody head wound…

The moment blood entered the water the sharks began to swarm and frenzy.

(I shudder at the thought of opening my eyes underwater and seeing nothing but teeth and muscle torpedoing towards me.)

Fortunately he’s quick – he screams underwater and pulls his head to safety just in time to avoid the deadly charge. Several sharks, however, ram the boat and send the coxswain flying into the air and then into the water.

The boat and the people on board become silent.

No more orders and directions. No more expectations to travel on a path only known to one person. No more comparing one rower to another. No more blind compliance and “yessum boss” loyalty. No more coxswain. She’s with the sharks now.

Slowly the rowers re-grip their oars and begin to row again. Some row forward, some backward, and most on one side, but now instead of loud commands all one can hear is the growing chorus:

Row …

Row …

Row your boat….

Gently down the stream…

And one by one the rowers begin to smile – and the boat’s path begins to straighten.


Look closely when you see me struggling because I bet you’ll occasionally see a slight smile crease my lips and you might, you just might even hear me singing the words, “Row, row, row…”

If so, feel free to join in.


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