There are few things more frustrating than working hard and not seeing a ton of results.
It’s even worse when your hard work is unappreciated, and you’re criticized for not doing enough or for doing things wrong.
When you’re trying your absolute best to teach well in a pandemic, the reality is that your best might not always be good enough.
Sometimes what you’re able to give really isn’t sufficient.
Of course you feel inadequate, when you know what you’re capable of under optimal circumstances, and also know you’re not working with anything even close to optimal circumstances.
So the only options are to try to single handedly compensate for all the adverse circumstances and perform at a superhuman level every day, or adjust our expectations.
You know which choice I’m going to advocate for.
I want you to let go of the “shoulds” and regrets about this school year. I want you to celebrate the small wins, instead of focusing on all the things that aren’t happening.
I’m going to talk more on that next week.
For now, I want you to focus more on who you are becoming, instead of what you are able to do (or not do) for your students.
Ask yourself, Who do I want to be on the other side of pandemic teaching? What kind of teacher — and what kind of human — do I want this experience to shape me into?
Because in our rush to figure out logistics and lessons and activities … we can’t forget that who we ARE is more impactful than what we DO.
Our beliefs, values, and worldview shape the way we interact with kids and impact every decision we make, from classroom management to curriculum.
Unpacking our identities and the “who” we bring to the classroom can be a grounding force that holds us steady through change.
Of course, you don’t have the time or mental bandwidth right now for a deep meditation on who you are as a person and a teacher. And as always, I’m encouraging you not to make this more complicated than it is.
Self-reflection is a continual process, and it’s often more about letting go instead of trying harder.
Focus on showing up as your true, whole, healed, essential self … letting go of any thoughts, beliefs, and actions that don’t serve the highest good. At your core, you are loving, patient, kind, and compassionate. You are full of life and energy and purpose.
All the traits that are counter to that are simply baggage and coping mechanisms you’ve picked up along the way in your journey through life in a very challenging world. They’re reactions you’ve developed as a result of fear, emotional wounds, defensiveness, prejudice, biases, outside expectations, and so on.
Growing as a person can be an act of returning to yourself and embracing who you really are, instead of trying to constantly change or improve yourself.
Your very existence, your presence in the classroom, has value. And the more that you show up with an open heart and mind, free from limiting beliefs about yourself, your students, and your school, the more your essential self will shine through.
So as you plan what you need to DO for kids … don’t forget to think about who you need to BE. Your essential self — who you are at your core — is exactly the person your students need this year.
Sending you much love and support.