Take a step back

Most of these blog posts focus on the professional aspects of CTE, pathways and employer engagement: Effective practices, changes in the field, the future of CTE and work, and building strong systems that support student engagement and development.

This is not one of those posts.

Based on our experiences, the people doing this work know that CTE and pathways can absolutely change the lives of students. They know that effective engagement now can alter a student’s trajectory for decades to come and that, cumulatively, it can determine the health of an entire community. This work matters. And, as a result, these people go above and beyond to make it happen. Their commitment, and the time they invest in this work, is nothing short of inspiring.

But it’s important to remember that we’re all human. The hours that people put in, and the pressure we put on ourselves, can cause a lot of stress. Add to that all of the things we’re dealing with as a society – a pandemic, economic turmoil and helping students deal with the kinds of personal challenges that many young people face – create even greater stress. It can be overwhelming at times.

Without a way to release that stress, it’s going to build and potentially lead to exhaustion and burnout. You can sprint, but you can’t sprint very long. If you want to run the long race, you have got to pace yourself. As Billy Joel says in the song Vienna, “Slow down you crazy child; take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while. It’s alright, you can afford to lose a day or two.”

So please, take the time to disengage. Be with family; be with friends. Take a vacation. Have fun. Get away from work for a while and recharge your batteries. You’ll be more effective, and you’ll be able to engage in the work for a much longer time.

And just for fun, you can start right now: Take five minutes, put on the headphones, and enjoy the Muppets singing Bohemian Rhapsody. It has nothing whatsoever to do with work, and that’s the point.


Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of the National Center for College and Career (NC3T) (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance, and tools. These strategies help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.