This is the 105th blog post I’ve written. Not really a celebratory number, but the 100th one passed by without my noticing. I don’t need to skim back through them to know that there are a lot of common themes that pop up, and a lot of things that didn’t go exactly to plan!
When that happens - often - I try to concentrate on the positives. There is always, without exception, something to be learned from the experience, but I find it isn’t productive to just fixate on all of the things that went wrong.
A goal in making my thinking visible each week through my writing, was that it helped me process and give form to the lessons I learned for my own sake.
Do I fixate sometimes? Of course. Some lessons take longer to process than others.
Sometimes, I’m just stubborn lol.
But for all that, and especially if consider that some of my audience may be people who are just starting out in education, I’m not sure that it’s always clear that I didn’t arrive here in one day.
Truth be told, “arriving” is just an illusion. And so is “here.” There really isn’t an education station (a la Platform 9 ¾) that we will ever pull into. It’s a continual journey that at some point I will leave, you will leave, and others will join.
And it will keep going.
Lest this really spiral into existential thinking, let me return to my point and reassure you: I have made many mistakes.
I have written copious notes on the boards. Given worksheets. Given zeros. Given marks for behaviour. Taken off marks for behaviour. Taken off marks for late work. Taught from a textbook. Taught from a binder. Given feedback only at the end, and either for impact or tradition, put it in red pen. I’ve done rote and repetition. Handouts and homework. Puff-projects. Nothing personalized to the people in front of me.
When I think about it, the ones that really hurt are the voices I silenced or the ones that weren’t empowered to speak because of the structure of my classroom.
And even just the fact that I thought of it as mine. Not ours.
I could continue, but it does actually give me a palpable reaction to go down this path.
Has it been a very long time since those things were part of my educational philosophy?
Am I constantly striving to learn, follow research, and try innovative approaches?
Will I continue to make mistakes?
Part of my opening work with new classes is this: If you get to the end of this course without having made any mistakes, then you haven’t learned anything new at all. If I allow myself one more existential thought: if nothing else, when I get to the end of my life and the list of mistakes seems extraordinarily long, I will confidently say that I learned a lot along the way.
So for me, just like anyone starting something new, it can be overwhelming to look at where others are and feel overwhelmed.
Social media exasperates that with our curated Instagrams and Pinterest-worthy posts.
But remember: everyone started at the beginning at some point. For you it might be today. For someone else, it was last year. For others, this shows a decade of growth.
I might be starting something new today, that you have been doing for a long time.
You might be starting something new today, that I have been doing for a long time.
I wish I knew how many times I’ve written this quote in my 105 entries…it will be a lot. But I’ll write it again because these words guide me not only at work, but in life:
“Do the best you can until you know better. But when you know better, do better.”
Here’s one more via Simon Sinek from Nikolai Vavilov:
“The outcome is uncertain…But still, I want to try.”
Have a great week everyone! Start small, but start something new today.
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