I have a confession. By looking at my classroom desk or my classroom, one may not realize this dark secret about me. My carefree, go with the flow attitude hides the beast within. Here goes… I am a perfectionist when it comes to the lessons I teach. I have them timed down to the very last second. Sure, I will deviate when a teachable moment arises, but when I have started my lesson flow, nothing can stop me. When I know the administrators are doing walk-throughs or observations, I go into panic mode. I get multiple opinions on my lessons. I drive my husband insane when I talk about what kind of hook I am going to use for the day or how I am going to determine my students got the point of my lesson. (Part of his annoyance may be because I am asking these questions at 2:00 a.m.). In my mind, I have to be perfect.
Participating in the Next Gen Cadre has been both exciting and terrifying. Part of the reason I joined is because I wanted a head start for next school year when all the teachers are using it. I wanted to be able to take the summer and make everything “perfect”. I didn’t realize that by joining, I was going to enter a learning curve like no other. I had to rethink my lessons and consider the fact that they weren’t as perfect as I thought they were when technology was added to the mix. I had to face the realization that one of the reasons I taught some of the lessons I did was because I had taught them forever and thought they were perfect.
One Monday I went into school ready to do something new in Canvas. I spent the whole weekend making sure everything was just right. As my students entered and we started working through the lesson, my classroom door opened and my administrator strolled in armed with her observation laptop. Immediately I went into a panic. I was not doing one of my “old” lessons that I knew would do well in an observational setting. This was all new. I didn’t know how my students would do with it, but I was excited that we were going to have a Padlet discussion over a story they were reading. The lesson was going well until the big Padlet unveiling. My students were given there prompt and started to type, immediately I knew something was wrong. Padlet was not working the way I had envisioned. At that point I had two choices, 1) Run out of the room in hysterics or 2) Admit that I was still learning about Canvas and what I can do with it and that sometimes things don’t go as planned. I chose choice #2. I was open with my students that things weren’t going as I had hoped and we adjusted. All of this while being formally observed. My administrator left. My stomach was in knots. I did not deliver perfection.
Two days later I met with my administrator and had one of the best observations ever. She was proud of me for stepping out of my comfort zone. I was taking risks and part of taking risks is that sometimes things don’t go as planned. I went back into my Canvas, realized my mistake, and I had my students go back and have a Padlet discussion. This time it was a success. My students even thanked me for letting go back and retry it. I realized it is ok to not be perfect, especially when taking on something new in Canvas. I am fortunate that I have administrators that encourage me to try new things even if they don’t always go as planned.
My point of this whole blog is that stepping out of your comfort zone is a scary thing. We get into this profession wanting to do our best for our students. It took being in the Next Gen cadre and rethinking my lessons for the 21st century student to realize that sometimes being perfect is not always what our students need. They need us to advocate for them and become risk takers so we can teach them the way they deserve.
Today's post comes to us from the wonderful Brittany Stewart. Brittany is a 5th grade teacher at Dennis Intermediate School. In her 15 years of teaching she has also spent time as a 3rd grade teacher, 6th grade teacher, and Intermediate Literacy Coach. She and her husband, Mike are the parents of 3 beautiful children, AJ, Emilee, and Edmund. In her spare time, Brittany likes to read and relax outdoors. She and her family love camping and visiting their favorite place, Great Wolf Lodge.