The Educator in the Arena

Robin ShrumBlog, Lead Better, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • Teachers face a lot of criticism, pushback, and obstacles.
  • They pour their heart and soul into their work and struggle to step back.
  • Despite everything they have faced over the past couple of years, teachers need to know they are doing what is best for their children.

  • It will all be okay.

Shutting Out the Noise

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt. It is known as “The Man in the Arena” and was delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910. I have this quote hanging behind my desk, a gift from an instructional coach that I worked with. She gave it to me as a reminder to keep doing what I know is best in spite of all the noise, the pushback, and the obstacles.

Every year I find myself revisiting this quote. I remind myself that, as long as I am focused on doing what is best for children and for my staff, I should not let the negative, the Facebook posts, and the unreasonable demands get to me. Sounds great, right? But it’s just not that easy.

We care hard. We commit hard. And we want what is best for everyone, sometimes to the detriment of ourselves. Click To Tweet

The Heart of an Educator

I am a feeler. Most of us in education are. We care hard. We commit hard. And we want what is best for everyone, sometimes to the detriment of ourselves. We often are not very good at turning off the “work” and taking time for ourselves. While there has been so much focus on self-care since the pandemic, I have not gotten any better at it. I continue to be a work in progress in that area.

Last year, many of us were convinced that the year would be easier because we were face to face and had the majority of our students in the building. This year, we were even more convinced that things might get back to “normal.” What I know, one week into the new school year, is that “going back” to how things were done pre-pandemic may not make sense, may not be best, and may not be well received. What I also know is that no one outside of education truly understands what it takes to run a classroom, to run a building, to meet the needs of children every day. And they definitely don’t understand what it takes to do that well. 

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Educator in the Arena: It Will All Be Okay…

So as I sit here on Sunday and think about tomorrow, I know I need to focus on the positives. I need to give myself grace. I need to listen to ALL the feedback, no matter how hard that might be. And I need to remember that the decisions I make put children first. In knowing that, I know that it will all be okay in the end, in spite of how hard it might be right now.

About Robin Shrum

Dr. Robin Shrum is an elementary school principal with a passion for learning and growing, and doing what is best for kids. She has been in education for 27 years – as a teacher, teacher leader, assistant principal, and now, principal for the past 9 years. She recently completed her Doctoral Degree in Administrative Leadership, and wrote her dissertation on new teacher retention. Her focus as an educator = People first! She believes that leadership is an action, not a title, and that there are opportunities for learning everywhere, every day! Robin has been a member of the VASCD Conference Committee for 8 years, and plays an integral part in the planning of one of Virginia’s best educational conferences. She can be found on Twitter @PrincipalWWR