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How Can You Do What Seems Impossible?

As educators we strive for excellence. You ask your students to strive for excellence and you naturally expect the same for yourself. Approaching anything with a goal of less than what you have achieved in the past does not come naturally. Do you agree that the demands of teachers have changed and so have the tools? Is it fair to ask that the expectations change as well? When you are trying to juggle in person and online at the same time while wearing a mask, teach your own classes in addition to covering for others who are out sick, or rework all of your lesson plans to fit a new schedule the old definition of success becomes impossible. Are you willing to try a different approach?

My husband is a head of school. In the beginning of the pandemic his faculty were struggling with the technology involved in online learning. He said to them, “I want you to understand that pretty good is good enough in this situation.” He wanted them to understand that he did not expect perfection or even excellence in the beginning. It might not be a message you want to share with your parents, however it may be what you need to say to yourself right now. Do we still strive for excellence? Of course we do. Is it even possible in the current situation? Yes, but perhaps with a different definition. Can we challenge how we quantify excellence? Have we quantified success in this situation? Lets try it by asking yourself

  1. What could success look like in this situation?

  2. How do you know when you have done enough?

  3. What do I need to let go of in this situation?

  4. What supports do you have to lighten the load?

We walked through these questions with one of our clients and here was the outcome

  1. Success is when I have students participating and engaged in my planned activity.

  2. I know I have done enough when the students who are participating are successful.

  3. I need to let go of 100% engagement, I also need to let go of the expectations I have set for my grading and comments on student work.

  4. I need to work more collaboratively with my co-teachers to lighten the load,

We have one final piece for you to consider. Imagine that a colleague comes to you and tells you how difficult the balance is. She says, “I don’t know how to do this. I feel like I am failing the kids who are at home and I’m distracted and unable to even connect with the ones who are in front of me.” What would you say to her? “You are a failure? Get it together? What is the problem?” No, I’m guessing you would say none of those things. You would treat her with compassion. “I hear you. I am going through the same thing. This is hard.” Can you do that for yourself? Can you begin by treating yourself with compassion? By saying to yourself, “This is hard and I am not alone. Almost everyone I know is having the same struggle.”

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