Not Being the Best (At Least Not Right Away)

So today I found myself sitting on my prep period with relatively little to do.  It’s the second day of the semester so I don’t have any grading, and I’ve got all my planning done and handouts made for the week.  Still wanting to be productive, I decided to poke around Pinterest for some inspirational ideas to use in my classroom.

Holy moly.  Bad choice.  After about 32 seconds I was feeling like the worst teacher ever.  All I could see was how creative these other teachers are and how much I suck and am failing my kids.  I started pinning all sorts of ideas and trying to figure out how I can make my classroom Pinterest-worthy.  I started feeling overwhelmed, and then the paranoia kicked in a bit.

I did what I always do in times like these–ran next door to my mentor’s classroom.  I am SO SO lucky to have an incredible mentor teacher.  I told her how I was feeling like a giant failure, and she gave me great advice.  She said to close Pinterest and focus on tomorrow’s lesson plans (which, coincidentally, is watching a movie.  Hey, Hercules can teach them a lot about ancient Greece!).  She reminded me that I am a first-year teacher, and I’m not expected to be amazing right out of the gate.  I was thrown into a role that no one has done before (we are doing this weird block scheduling at my school this year and I”m expected to teach two different classes in my block) so my biggest focus should be on doing the best I can this year.  Then I have all summer to look at what I did, make adjustments, and add new things.

I needed this perspective in my life.  I’m such a perfectionist so I always want to be the best.  I have been overtaxing myself trying to add all these great things to my classroom, but in the end I was just hurting my students.  I’ve been tired and trying to do too many things that aren’t my style and don’t work for me.  I’ve been working on accepting that my lesson plans might not be perfect this year, and that’s ok.  As long as I give my students my absolute best every day (and make sure I cover the required standards) then I can consider my first year in the classroom a success.

I’m trying to apply this to other areas of my life as well.  If something isn’t perfect right away, that’s ok!  Life can be messy, and it can require some tweaking.  That doesn’t mean we just give up on things or that they won’t work out well eventually!  Any other first-year teachers out there who can sympathize, we will get there!

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Resolutions

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I think part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve always been a student or a teacher, so for me the new year begins in August. January 1 didn’t seem like a fresh start so why bother making all kinds of promises I probably wouldn’t keep anyway?

This year is a little different. I did make a resolution this year. There were several events that led me to do this. Two of my best friends from high school got married over Christmas break. While I had an absolute blast at both weddings, there was a little nagging feeling I had at both. I found myself stressing that everyone in my high school group is now married and I’m still technically single. I do think this impacted my experience at the weddings (but not too much, because like I said they were a blast).

On my plane ride home from Denver after the second wedding on the morning of January 1 (yes, it was a New Year’s Eve wedding–SO fun) I realized that is crap. I’m too concerned with comparing my place in life to where others are. I’m too concerned with planning and calculating things. That’s what almost ruined things with A back in November. So my resolution this year? Live in the moment. Stop worrying so much and just enjoy life.

I know it’s only been three days, but I can already feel the impact of this resolution. I came home yesterday after being gone since December 23 and A immediately planned this whole night out (so adorable, and made me feel like he has really missed me). Instead of spending the evening overthinking everything he said and figuring out what everything meant, I just had fun. I really tried living in the moment and to just enjoy what was going on. And you know what? It worked. We had a great time and he actually ended up just crashing at my place because he said he didn’t want to go home. There was no drama, no me asking what our status is and what’s going on, no pressure.

Of course, it’s a bad idea to completely ignore the future. We do have to make plans and figure things out. But I was obsessing over things. I think if I can keep this up my life will actually change and I will be a lot happier. Here’s to 2015 and all the great things it will bring!