I made two goals in July. The first was to post at least once a month. The second was to post my classroom creations when I created them instead of waiting forever. Progress check? I haven't been doing that great! Yes, it's only been a couple of months, but still! I put it out there, expecting that I would stick with it. But then the year got started and I got busy and I was tired and I had planning to do and I came up with A TON of excuses. Not ok. :)
I've always been a perfectionist. I've striven to be the best I can be at everything I set my mind to for as long as I can remember. I set extremely high standards for myself and I expect myself to reach them. But the catch is, as great as high standards are, chances are that once in a while I might not reach them. To most people, this would be completely reasonable. To me, I've always been an all or nothing person when it comes to fulfilling my expectations of myself. It's always been "perfection" or "failure". The funny thing is, this mindset was created all on my own. I grew up knowing that what really matters is not always reaching what I saw as perfection, but the effort and work I put into it in the process. I was surrounded by a growth mindset.
Being a perfectionist, always taking on too much, and always giving my all to everything has been a great way to learn a hard lesson (more than once): there are some standards I will not reach when I expect to reach them. Doesn't mean I don't still try though! ;)
This past weekend I realized how interesting it is that I spend my days trying to get my students to believe that doing their best is what really matters, and that getting 55% on a test is a great thing if they only got 35% on the last one, and that our "failures" only teach us, the list goes on and on. How can I convince my students to listen to this and believe it, when even I am not listening to it?
So what's the point in all this? I know our students don't see the behind the scenes aspect of our day-to-day school life, but they do see more than we think they do. They know when we're having a hard day even when we're all smiles and pretend everything is great. They can sense when we're really passionate about something and we aren't. They can (sometimes) tell when we're making it up as we go along. There are things they figure out without us telling them. If we're really wanting our students to believe the life lessons we're teaching them, we need to start believing them as well. I can't hold my students accountable for being ok with their best effort even if they haven't done as well as they wanted to when I know I wouldn't settle for that if it were me.
Some things are meant to be learned over a lifetime. For me, it's learning to truly be ok with not always reaching every standard I set for myself within the time limit I expect. But it sure has given me great stories to use as examples for my students! It really helps when they're freaking out about a test score and I can say: "Trust me, I am a pro at freaking out about grades. If I tell you there's nothing to worry about, then there really isn't anything to worry about."
Everyone has something they push their students to take to heart that they themselves haven't yet taken to heart. Think about that next time you wonder why some students haven't figured out what you're talking about yet. I mean, my students are 8. I'm 24. If I'm still working on it, they probably are too!