OUR YEARBOOK IS IMPERFECT. This fact would have destroyed me just a few years ago. Like most teachers, I learn toward a strong desire to be perfect; all day and every day. This can create a state of perpetual angst as it turns out perfection is hard to achieve. In fact, a quote from a recent TED Talk I had my students watch sums it up best, “Perfection is NOT a human condition.” True story.
I suppose the lesson to learn, and it has probably taken me longer than most, is what you do with your errors. Now, I was super bummed to discover the mistakes in the yearbook, but I also didn’t spin out dwelling on them, and instead, set to work to fix them as much as was within my grasp. You have to do the best you can, and then apologize for all the rest.
The biggest problem with my obsession with being perfect is that I do not live this out in a vacuum. My students are watching me. When a student pointed to a picture in the yearbook, “Hey, that’s not the right kid”, they waited to see what I would say and do. My reaction mattered. After apologizing to the student in question, I set to work creating a solution. It would have been easier to blame someone else, or think of excuses, but none of that would actually solve the problem. We came up with a pretty good solution — not as perfect as getting it right the first time, but the best solution under the circumstances.
My students have spent the last 176 days in my classroom and I wonder what they’ve learned. I know I can look at the data and see how the reading scores have changed over time. I can look at all the assessment numbers, and compare writing samples from the beginning of the year to the end, but that doesn’t necessarily given an accurate portrait of our school year. We’ve been on a journey together for so long, and I hope that we’ve grown together. I hope that within the walls of my classroom my students felt listened to, and respected. I hope that they discovered the power of their voices, and the power of disciplined mind. I hope that they understand that their teacher was a human, on a journey. I hope they know that hard as I might try I am not perfect.
Tomorrow is my very last day with my reading students. Today, we had a class rivalry soccer game during reading so I didn’t really get any time with them. I will miss them. And here’s the thing, most of my students are saying two things as the school year winds down: 1. I don’t want to go to 6th grade. I want to stay here. and 2. I like school better. Summer is boring. I feel the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of sleeping late, and sitting around the house. But I like school. I miss my coworkers and all my students. Also, I wish our school went to the 8th grade. I want more time with our students. Sending them off to middle school after 5th grade feels too soon.
I just now realized that this particular blog is all over the place. I couldn’t get to sleep last night and so am inordinately tired. We had been watching the “When They See Us” docu-series and finished it up last night. As a result, I couldn’t sleep. And so this particular entry is a little bit all over the place, but I suppose there’s a lesson in that - something about imperfection being a part of life, perhaps. ;)
Keep moving forward,