Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Am Me, and I Can't Be You

As we close out the second six weeks of our school year, I've been doing a lot of reflecting.

My first six weeks was a complete disaster.  I was a mess and it reflected on my students.  And as I've looked back at the difference between my first and my second six weeks I noticed what I had done.

I spent the entire summer learning.  I'm a learning addict (heard that phrase from Eric Sheninger).  I was on twitter, blogs, and facebook almost every day this summer learning from and with incredible people in education.  I was gaining all these wonderful ideas of ways that other educators were incorporating awesomeness into their classrooms.

Then the school year began, and I tried implementing all these great ideas I had been learning.  And I failed....and failed miserably.  I couldn't get hardly any of these "amazing" ideas to work, and I figured it must be me.  I must be that teacher who isn't "as good" as those teachers I was reading about and interacting with online.  I was destroyed and I felt like the biggest failure.  And I came to school upset, downtrodden, and bruised.  And it began to reflect onto my students.

Then something hit me.  I was trying too much, and more importantly I was trying to be something I wasn't.

Let me explain....I had allowed myself to believe that some of these incredible people I was reading about or interacting with, were better than me.  I had allowed myself to believe that my ideas weren't as good.  I had allowed myself to believe that I was "less than".

I thought I had to do all these things I was reading about so that I could be a better teacher.  And I overwhelmed myself.  And in turn I became a teacher I didn't recognize or like, because I tried to do things that weren't me or my style.

So I went back, and started doing what I had done before.  Ideas that I had used before with great success, I began to tweak.  I began to change little things here and there to make my ideas even better.  And I stopped trying to be the amazing teachers I was reading about, and I started trying to be me.

Now that's not to say that those teachers weren't and aren't still doing great things, they ARE!  But through all of this I realized that I am doing great things too!  And I shouldn't dis-count myself because my insecurities made me believe that my ideas weren't as good.

So I write this in saying, I feel like that's what happens when many of us become "connected educators".  We begin to feel like there's so much greatness happening in other classrooms, and we begin to feel like our ideas aren't as cool as we thought anymore.

Well here's what I learned....we're ALL doing great things!  And we're doing great things that fit the needs of OUR students.  Can we get better?  YES!  But that doesn't mean we have to become someone different entirely.  We may just need to tweak some things here and there.  And that's where I've truly found the value in connecting online.  Now I have a network that I am not trying to become like, but I'm using them to help me become a better version of myself through asking them for advice, help, and just a listening ear for me to vent to.

Because in all honesty, I am ME, and I can't be you.

11 comments:

  1. Thank YOU for your honesty, Todd. I am just going to admit it, moving, starting a new job, in a new place, I've constantly been feeling that I am not enough. I too see the amazing folks all around me that I feel beyond blessed to be connected with, and I start to feel that I am not enough. Then I read this, and I realize, we are ALL enough. When we are searching for better it's so important not to lose sight of what we do have. Our accomplishments, our abilities, and our friends. Thanks, Todd!

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    1. Thanks Krissy! We ARE enough! We have to maintain our vision and keep our sights on the great things each of us are doing :)

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  2. Thank you for sharing this as I too had felt the same thing. I read all that others are doing and wonder why I can't do my class the same way? Even though I may try, I too found the hard way that I have to do things in my own style. Thank you for helping me to see that I am not the only one that struggles with these issues. I like how you stated this:"Now I have a network that I am not trying to become like, but using them to help me become a better version of myself through asking advice, help" I will remember this as I read about the cool things others are doing.

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    1. Thanks for reading my post and replying Mary! It's been a difficult journey for me to get this far, but I've learned so much! I have to continually remind myself not to compare me to others but to stand tall in my own genius, as Angela Maiers says.

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  3. Todd,

    You have made some great points here, and no, you are definitely not alone. I have been in a similar place many times in my career and I have this feeling I'll end up there again.
    Much like you describe I love seeking new information. And even more so I love attempting new "adventures" with my classes. I've had this approach blow up in my face many times, though fortunately over the long run I have seen it help both me and my students grow. If we never took chances we be stuck doing the same ol', same ol' and our students deserve better.
    I don't intend to stop experimenting, because yes I have some great ideas, but there re so many great ideas out there from other people too. And as you said so well, it's not about who better, sometimes it's just about what fits our style.
    The one lesson I think I have learned with my implementation mistakes is balance. Sometimes I get so excited I try too much new stuff too fast. And then I can't sustain it, unfortunately I'm human. But if I pace myself, and my students, together we end doing some terrific things.

    Ok I'm going to stop rambling now, but there is one last thing I want to say. I know you think things went terrible, but based I what I've seen you share, I have a feeling if you ask your kids they wouldn't have the same opinion of the 1st 6 weeks as you. I think they'd have some great things to say.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Ted

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    1. Thanks Ted for responding! I agree so much about taking chances! And it totally is about what fits our style. Thanks for the reminder about our kids can find light even in some of our darkest times :)

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  4. I agree with you wrote and what people have commented thus far. Each of us has tremendous gifts and bring magic into our classrooms in our own unique way. Being connected allows to try new things that our expert colleagues have done. I also at times feel ill equipped or "not good enough" when I see what is out there. Your post has pushed me to believe that I am doing the best I can in this moment and that I am on a lifelong journey of learning. I need to learn to be proud of what my students are doing because of what I am giving them and that I am the road from good to great.

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    1. Ariel, we are all on our lifelong journey of learning! I keep reminding myself of the same thing!

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  5. I think you bring up a great point Todd. I call it the "shiny new tech toy syndrome." I've seen many educators get excited about all of the new tools they discover -- and they implement them in the class too fast -- without thinking about the effectiveness of it and the learning outcomes. AND as you pointed out, do they ask" Does this really fit me and my teaching style?"

    When you spend time with all of the fabulous educators on Twitter, it's easy to start comparing yourself. At Edutopia, we highlight a lot of them and one piece of feedback we get at times from educators is "I can't do that. That teacher is superhuman." Your point is well-taken. Although there are so many inspiring and innovative things educators are doing, we need to be careful to not get swept up in things that don't fit your objectives and style. I think this is a lesson that many teachers sometimes learn the hard way -- so thank you for your reflection.

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    1. Elana, thanks for commenting on my post! It is super easy to start comparing ourselves, and I have to continually better myself, without getting ahead of myself :-)

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  6. Augmented reality apps for kids it’s to be seen as one of the major learning while you play concept for kids. Kids AR Alphabets apps help the kids to learn worthy.

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