Sometimes as I sit down to write certain posts I wonder if what I’m about to write really impacts others or if it’s just me. Writing this was one of those instances. Let me share a couple examples to see if you can connect with this thought process at all.
* You are a teacher and a friend who teaches in a different district tells you about an amazing thing they are doing in their classroom that you hadn’t considered
* You are a coach who reads on social media how another coach is building program consistency with a certain practice structure for teams of all levels
* As a principal, you are at a conference and the presenter shares with you a method for building staff culture. You consider yourself competent in that area but there idea is above and beyond something you’ve ever considered
What’s Wrong with That?
So, what’s the problem? You are hearing new ideas that impact and expand your thinking. Twitter or Facebook gives more options to consider for your classroom or school. Educators are often friends with educators in other districts and that allows for a great exchange of thinking. Educators attend workshops or conferences to hear experts in various areas. Those should all be good things, right? Shouldn’t that allow us to grow in our work? Yes, but. Yes, but I think there can also be a downside. I’ve certainly have felt it before and want to share that in this post.
Seeing, listening, and talking about different ideas has turned into a challenge for me as a varsity basketball coach, teacher, principal, and even a parent. Social media has made it even more difficult. As your professional network grows, the possibility to hear all the amazing things happening in other schools grows as well.
Here’s the Challenge
The challenge is that you can’t do it all. You especially can’t do it all at the same time. When I hear something another educator is doing that is really good, it brings out a couple different feelings and I’ll share those honestly. Part of me feels insufficient and that I’m not good enough at my job for the parents, students, and teachers of our school. Part of me wonders what I hadn’t thought of it. I do think how awesome it is that others are positively being impacted. I wonder if and how the idea might fit into what we are currently doing. I’ve also made the mistake or hearing an idea somewhere and going back to immediately implemented it. That has often failed. As your network grows and the scope of social media grows, there are more and more opportunities for this to happen to educators.
1. Be confident in what you are doing. I don’t think this has to do with insecurity but instead knowing what you believe in and how it impacts your current practice. What you’ve developed has been well-planned, thoughtful, and successful for a reason. Know that the base, the foundation, is strong. Understand that we all have our strengths and growth areas as educators. The person who shared the program you haven’t implemented is likely not doing something you are doing well. The confidence in ourselves allows us to accurately self-assess and know we have those clear strengths.
2. Be reflective and willing to grow. Always be on the look-out for something that can improve the educational expereince for parents, students, and staff. Never think you know it all or can’t possibly improve more. Being open to new ideas doesn’t mean criticizing yourself for not implementing it already nor does it mean you have to develop each one you hear into a new initiative.
3. Implement changes carefully. Go slow. Collaborate with others. Consider how many new initiatives you currently are introducing. Think about how a new idea might or might not fit with the current focuses in your school or classroom. Keep a list of potential ideas or journal and put them into a short, medium, or long-term timeline for implementation.
This is coming from the guy who loves the term #ChaseIt and is obsessed with the journey and process of trying to be great at anything. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing it all. Remember the power of growth mindset and the strength of “not yet.” However, trying to do everything at once or feeling insufficient for not having it all going right now gets your further away from greatness, not closer to it.