Being okay with not being good enough

Okay, so my super pumped declaration  fizzled this weekend.  My TPA took super long, and although I am relieved that 36 pages, scanned assessments, seating chart, ad a 20-minute, flash-converted video clip is all submitted and done, I do feel like a failure.  I did not really prepare for this week.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I did nothing school-related.  On Tuesday, I showed up to school and did some work, but half-heartedly.  Thursday, I worked on my TPA.  Friday, I worked on my TPA.  Saturday, I worked on my TPA, began doing item analyses on my students’ interim assessments, and looked into my credential program’s final project.  Today, I finished my TPA and began re-planning for the week… and man, I feel both elated and ashamed at the lots and little that I accomplished.

Every blog I look into to try to find more engaging, inquiry-based lesson ideas where I can encourage higher order thinking ultimately points me back to planning and essentially, knowing the direction of where I am going.  There’s always extra you can do and extra you should do.

I realized though, that I’m setting myself up to lose if my goal is to be the best 8th grade teacher I can be.  Because I can always do more, and there will always be more asked of me.  If I try to do that, I will die (metaphorically speaking)!

There is a reason why in middle school, teachers start teaching separate courses.  You just need to be specialized at this level or you will be a very shallow teacher.  Ideally, I could even teach across two subjects, because yes, I do enjoy the discoveries in each class.  But at the end of the day, if I am going to organize special projects for one class, another class will lose out.

In year 2 of teaching middle school, I can’t expect myself to be the most awesome English, Algebra, US History, and Science teacher… and honestly, that sucks.

I can attribute it to my lofty, “Oh, I want students to love learning” or “Students deserve a prepared teacher” or other equally true statements.. but I know it also has to do with my own ego.  I don’t want to look back and think of myself as a mess.  I don’t want to cringe at how my kids passed through.  I recall my own experiences and (although there are sizable blanks in my memory, where I just don’t remember what we did in class because it was that unimportant compared to my social insecurities and academic boredom) the parts I do remember were fantastic.

I guess, though, I need to be okay with growing and knowing that it’s okay to not be phenomenal.  Who am I trying to impress?  Seriously, I’m in love with myself and I care about my opinion of me.  But, I need to realize that my efforts need to equal the payoff.  Thinking like this makes me grouchy though.  Because what this also means is knowing when I need to stop planning for one lesson and move onto a different one.  It means being able to prune and edit without trying to smush everything in.  Because when I do that, then students also get overwhelmed, they don’t learn that much, and the only person that feels deflated is me.  Utility is key!

Okay. aja aja.

Three weeks until Winter Break, and I promise, then, I will work harder on my re-pacing guide!

“I tried to carry the weight of the world / but I only had two hands”  – used to be my depressing little mantra.  Must. change.


6 responses to “Being okay with not being good enough

  1. Teaching is a difficult field, one that comes with ups and downs. Most educators that I know realize that they can always do better. I think that realization is what makes good teachers great teachers, but it is important that when one thinks he or she has failed, chances are success actually happened.

  2. I struggle with this, too, everyday. But do you think there’s a difference between “being the best you can be” and “being the best”? Maybe being the best you can be includes having compassion for yourself for where you are, and not beating yourself up for not doing the even extra things that would make you perfect? I’m still working on that myself… even after 3 years, I still feel like I know nothing, I’m the Worst, I’m never prepared enough or creative enough or engaged enough… I second-guess my responses and decisions, and alienate myself from my co-teachers by my obsessive hunt for Perfection. I’m struggling to find the balance between wanting to do more/better next time and accepting what I’ve done/where I am now.

    • I think though, being the best I can be.. can be a slippery slope, because I always feel that I can ALWAYS be better.

      The iterative process gets obsessive.

  3. I think you are phenomenal 🙂 aja aja!

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