I am part of an imperfect tribe in an imperfect world. I am not alone. No one is.
There were several small things that happened during this last week that made me doubt myself, made me wonder if I want to keep teaching, or had the strength to deal with the changes in my family life.
I can look around and feel that I am all alone. It seems that everyone else has it all together.
Then I remember that adage, “Don’t compare your insides to other’s outsides.” I may not look like others, but I can still be okay. I have so much life experience and patience. I know I am an excellent and affirming listener, a good teacher, and a wonderful part of a bigger family.
The things is, in the classroom, I often feel like a policeman. In fact, during this summer seminar on classroom management, one of the leaders suggested to us, new-ish teachers, we must act like the new sheriffs in town. Oy! I think that children have internalized enough of the insecure feeling of “I am wrong. I am not enough. I ought to be punished” Simply listening to and accepting a student (or anyone!) can free a child to be themselves. I suppose that the behavior problems I encounter come along with the hive mind and the group think; boys will, many of them, try to get away with whatever they can get away with. I want to have high expectations and yet be prepared when lessons go awry or boys do not listen well.
My goal is to listen deeply while emphasizing a positive attitude and acknowledging a growth mindset. Listening, accepting, empathizing can free a student to truly be themselves more and to grow in knowledge and understanding. The truth is we are all flawed. We are all human.
I truly believe that instead of acting like the new policeman in town, I should be the most authentic and best me I can be. Not to enforce arbitrary rules but to foster the greatest growth for the greatest number of students.
We probably all, teachers and sheriffs alike, need to step away from our perfectionism, to laugh more, to share our humanity. To realize that our desire to appear perfect keeps us from sharing on our deepest level.
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield. – Brené Brown
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