Embrace the Suck of NEW

Woman embracing herself

As an educator, I have been asked numerous times to accept NEW. Not just one or two NEW things, but sometimes ALL THINGS, and embracing the new can suck. Right now across the world teachers are being asked to embrace the NEW again. This time we are all in it together.

Currently, I am an educator of educators, and I have never been more proud to be a part of this profession. In the last two weeks, teachers have spent every waking minute away from their classrooms learning and creating virtual learning spaces for their students. Normally, they would hope to get a full day of face-to-face professional development with us, then a chance to explore, practice with colleagues, ask questions, and finally soft launch with students. You know, the way NASA does things. Not this time. Due to the spreading of COVID-19, teachers were thrown into a tailspin. And we are spinning with no time to practice a hypothetical situation, simulate the disaster and follow the drill, or a flipbook or binder to reference with all of the answers. This NEW was fast and furious.

Here at friEdTech, we experienced a week of all our dates being canceled and the calendar became a scary sight. We worried about what would happen next and what we could do to help. It didn’t take long before teachers began to answer this question. In true educator fashion, they banded together. Not to whine and complain, but to PLAN and LEARN. We quickly joined the movement and have been trying to help in any way possible. This week, we have virtually met with over 5,000 teachers from around the world. That’s a lot of teachers, and we love each one of them!

I say all of this because mid-week I started to really feel the drain and darkness of the NEW. I haven’t had enough face to face time with MY people. We are pulling long hours to help. I’m scared for my family members that I can’t get to. I’m worried about what is going to happen to education this summer, next year. The list goes on…

Then I listened to this new podcast by Brené Brown called FFTs, Unlocking Us. She almost immediately brought me out of a place of worry and despair. She explained that we are all trapped in an FFT, a f***ing first time. (I’m sorry Mom, her words, not mine!) Embracing this new way of thinking changed a lot for me this week and will impact me forever. I’m a perfectionist, and I own it, but sometimes perfection is just doing your best every day (Thanks Amy Mayer for teaching me that). I took some notes on what Brené said in the podcast, and I want to share them with you. However, I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast. She really gets to the heart of things.


First, you must name the FFT when you are in it. – Identify & Name – When we name and own hard things, it doesn’t give them power, it gives us power!

When all of sudden you are feeling like….

  • Why am I so confused?
  • Why is everything going wrong?
  • Things are spiraling out of control!

You are in an FFT, and that’s ok! It’s time to start learning, but you have to do a few things to get it under control.

  1. Normalize it. It doesn’t feel good, but that’s okay because I’m learning.
  2. Put it in perspective. This is not permanent. I don’t suck at everything. I’m just learning.
  3. Reality check my expectations. This is going to suck for a while. I’m not going to crush it right away. I’m learning.

Basically, we have no idea what we are doing. We can’t draw on history or personal experience.

Eventually, you will look back on this time and possibly laugh and evaluate all the things you wouldn’t do again. Hopefully, it seems easier now. Look at what you learned! This moment will and should help you grow.

During this time things are going to feel forever long. You might see an increase in your anger. It is going to be physically and emotionally harder. You can do this, and you are going to do it the way that is right for you and those around you. You might make mistakes and that’s ok. It’s an FFT. Set your expectations on a level that is comfortable for you.

Go ahead and feel it. Be disappointed. Own it. Work through it. Be patient. Reach out and help others around you by vocalizing your feelings. Ask people for what you need. Let them know you are going through this with them. This is a great time to model coping with FFTs and grow together.

Listen with the same passion that you feel about being heard.

– Harriet Lerner

We ARE going to get through this and come out stronger. Things that were on the “to learn” list are going to be mastered. Your confidence to lead a classroom, a household, yourself through an unknown situation will be improved. I hope you will have new people in your circle that helped you learn and cope. I really feel together is the best plan I have. Hang in there guys, stay home, stay safe, and keep learning…this FFT is a wild ride!

Listen to Brene talk about FFTs.

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Brooke is a Google Certified Educator and Lead Learning Guide at friEdTech. Her goal is to inspire teachers to create a technology-rich classroom based on student inquiry and engagement. In her sessions she enjoys sharing tips, tricks, and applications that will help integrate technology in the classroom. Brooke has an eye for design and digs creating graphics that add a custom flair to any project. She strives to engage teachers in professional learning and have them ready to teach outside the box.

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