Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm Not Perfect

I had a moment this week. I discovered I'm not perfect. I are really surprised.

It was in group time. I've mentioned that I haven't discovered the best key to this group of kids - keeping them engaged in our group learning time. This week two kids were cutting up (and doing some things that I really thought was out of line). So, I said, "Stop." Not yelling but in a louder voice than I usually use. And in a sharper tone than I usually use.

And I immediately felt like I'd failed as a teacher. I want to be encouraging and firm. Kind and consistent. Understanding but guiding. And I was louder and sharper instead.

Mr. Rogers was always calm and kind. Mary Poppins always knew what to do. I read about the wonderful bloggers/teachers online and think that they always seem in control and "perfect." And I'm not. I read about parents and teachers that struggle with kids and all kinds of needs and they seems to triumph. And I don't.

Isn't it easy to beat yourself up when you don't respond as you'd hope. You tell yourself that Tom or Donna or Jenny or Deborah or Matt or Greg or Amy or Ayn or Jessi or ______ would never act that way. He or she is always calm and nurturing, firm and guiding. And you aren't. But, then again, I think everyone is not perfect sometime. In fact, I read in a blog post once that it's dangerous to compare yourself to your online friends. Online people tend to present their best selves. We can't compete with anyone's best self. And they can't compete with our best selves either. (I think Jon Acuff said this but I couldn't find it when I looked for it.)

No, I'm not perfect. And I've always known that. But I am always trying. And the kids let me sometimes act in a "not perfect" way and still care about me. And I let them act in not perfect ways and still care about them, too.

And - maybe together - we can shave off those rough edges and learn how to work and live together.


  1. At least once a year, I have worse moments - times I really yell or times when I crush a kid with sarcasm or moments when an eighth grader explodes with a "fuck off" and instead of realizing how much that child must be hurting, I power-up and go head-to-head.

    What makes you successful as a teacher is your humility. To me, that's the critical piece that moves a teacher from good to great.

  2. Great post I truly believe we learn more from our imperfect moments.

  3. Oh thank goodness, Scott! I thought I was the only (not perfect) one! I want to be the magical teacher that magically captivates and enchants while little bodies are still and rapt with attention and little minds absorb like sponges, but that hasn't happened yet. It's really nice to know that I'm not alone in feeling like there are days when I can do better. :)

  4. All we can do when we have those moments- which do happen to all of us- is to keep moving forward. You've caught yourself- that's the first step in making changes but don't beat yourself up. Think about next time I'll react and
    do ____... I imagine even Fred Rogers has off days too. Thanks for your honesty

  5. Love this - thanks! I have caught myself as well, and very occasionally have the presence of mind to continue in my BADTEACHER voice and slowly lower my tone and body language to that lovely perfect teacher tone explaining why I went off the end. So occasionally, I believe perfect is in my grasp, though never in my grip : ) And now, I will simply imaging Mr Roger's saying "Welcome to the neighborhood. Today we are talking about Loud Noises: )"

  6. Here's what I have learned. Some kids need that louder, firmer voice. Kind and sweet just doesn't get them to move or change. My favorite read is Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax. He talks about tone of voice (especially with boys) and that you need to be louder and firmer when speaking to them.
    I love your blog! Keep up the great posts.

  7. Scott, the only reason I have any wisdom to offer at all is because I've made so many mistakes!

    Mind you, I'm not throwing up my hands in horror that you raised your voice. You're human, and one thing that children have to learn is that adults are human. They also need to know that if someone raises their voice- and people will- it's not the end of the world. It's a warning sign of a breached boundary. It doesn't mean you don't love them, but it does mean you've had enough at this moment.

    It's what you do afterwards that matters the most- escalate (fail) or step back, explain, discuss (pass with flying colours). I bet you did the latter.