I’ve suggested a 30-day writing challenge between me and my husband. I write more under some kind of deadline, and I guess one way to have a deadline is to set one yourself. So, voilá!

We can write about whatever we want, and the only other guideline is, the blog post has to be at least 150 words.

I just told my husband I don’t want to write right now because nothing comes to mind. I have nothing I really want to write about. His reply was to “push through.” I felt a twinge of frustration in his response and then remembered one of the skills of executive functioning (getting tasks done) is the skill of perseverance - “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” So this blog is my effort in pushing through.

I’ve taught in quite a few environments in the last fourteen years, and out of all those environments, the one I’m in right now is probably the most difficult. I’m at a continuation school, where students come to my classroom “over” the idea of education, over the idea that education is actually valuable and can help them once they leave school. They are students whose challenges in the home and their communities leave them uninterested in dealing with challenges in the classroom. These students do know to graduate is valuable, but graduating is about getting points to get the grade that will allow them to move on to the next class until they can get their diploma.

I get judgy. I get frustrated. I become perplexed at their limited focus. But, you know, this is why as educators, as parents, as leaders, we need to do exercises like this 30-day blogging challenge. I actually am a writer and this challenge is still very difficult for me because I like doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Exercises that challenge us to do what we don’t want to do, exercises that challenge our will, that make us squirm and want to click open our phones and scroll social media, rather than attack the task at hand are healthy. They remind us what the people who we are affecting go through on a very visceral, spiritual and emotional level. These challenges create empathy and take us off of our lofty perches of judgment. As this first day’s challenge ends, I can tell you I feel good I pushed through, I feel good I listened to my husband, which brings me to my final point. It’s okay to be that nagging whisper in someone’s ear to push through because what you are really saying is “you can do this, and I believe in you.” That matters.