Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's got to beeeeee PERFECT!

I read an article recently from The Daily Cafe called 'Healthy Striving' which really resonated with me.  As I move closer to the finishing date with CORE Education and my starting day at Cobham Intermediate I have been thinking about the kind of practitioner I am and more importantly, want to be.

I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist but I will admit to taking on an overwhelming amount of tasks in my professional life because I want them done a certain way, in a certain timeframe and if reflecting honestly, I believe I can do the job well and to a high standard.  Arrogance and perfectionism all rolled up in one perhaps?

The statement about how healthy striving asks "How can I improve?" while perfectionism asks "What will people think?" was interesting - do I consciously or unconsciously work a certain way to please others (make them happy, receive praise etc) or rather to improve my practice and become a better educator?  If you are asking yourself that same question right now, I wonder if you came to the same conclusion I did!  It made me a little melancholy too when I went on to read that perhaps "perfectionism not only hampers success, but robs us of pleasure, because we can never measure up to impossible standards".  I agree with this statement and also believe that where there is a culture of perfectionism,  you will usually find a culture of high stress!

So following on from my previous post, how do you decrease workload and stress for teachers?  Obviously, my key learnings from reading the 'Healthy Striving' article is that we shouldn't be aiming for perfection.  We should be constantly working through that process of setting goals, reflecting often, tweaking the failures (often where all the learning happens) and celebrating the successes.  We don't have to live up to the expectations of others and we also shouldn't put those expectations on ourselves.  Let's strive for being perfectly imperfect and know that all our imperfections make us special and unique...just like all those blessed kids in our classrooms!   This will lead us to understanding that we have the power to control our learning, our growth and our teaching.  

Effective teachers don't demand perfectionism from their students all the time, we simply keep asking our kids "How can you improve?"  My challenge to you all, is to make sure that this is your mantra as well!