Every year there’s something that just floors me and is SOOOOO huge that I just want to take a nap and hope it goes away. During my first few years of teaching it was getting an elementary Christmas Concert together. Then a few years later it was pulling the high school musical together. Then a few years after that it was starting up my classroom website. This year it’s getting our district technology plan together. All of these things are so overwhelmingly large!!!! There are so many different directions they could go. So many ideas to consider. So many people to organize. It all makes my head spin.
You see, I’m a detail girl and large projects often have more details than I can wrap my head around. So I pick an area and start to focus. Often in the first year of tackling a project I end up going back and re-doing something I thought I completed early on because I didn’t quite have a strong grasp of all the variables. When I began the elementary Christmas concert I didn’t realize how much time it would take to get 1st graders to sing a song with 4 verses nicely. I moved on to the 2nd verse too quickly and had to go back a re-teach the first verse after the 3rd verse. When I did the high school musical I didn’t plan for costumes early enough and had to spend quite a few afternoons (before rehearsal) driving around the countryside looking for dresses from the local theater companies. This year with the tech plan I’m so new that I don’t even know what I’m doing wrong YET but I sure I’ll find something shortly.
I need to learn to accept that I can’t do everything right the first time every time. I find myself thinking, “I’ve been an educator for 14 years now. I should know how to do all this stuff – even if it’s brand new to me.” Just like I remember thinking, “I should know how to plan a Christmas Concert! I’ve been learning this for the last 4 years of college!” during my first year of teaching. Maybe the underlying thought here for me is more along the lines of: “I’m pretty smart, I can figure most things out. Why isn’t this easier!?!”
So this feeling right here, this feeling of frustration, unpreparedness, anger, and confusion, this feeling is one I need to remember. I feel like I’m doing this all by myself and there’s no one to help. Even though there are lots of people I can ask questions, I don’t even know which questions to ask them! I need help but I don’t know what help I need. So I just need to get busy so I can find the questions to ask. But I’m still really angry that this is the best way to go about this for right now – it’s messy and non-linear and seems like it might possibly be a total waste of my time.
That feeling right there is how my students students feel when I ask them to research a composer or try to find their singing voice. That’s how my fellow teachers feel when they get a new tool like a Smartboard or a projector. That’s how my administration feels they learn about a new tool like a blog or a wiki.
So folk,s when I say I know how you feel…..I really mean it. I understand that anger and frustration but we have to push through it to get to the other side. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other in the areas I’m struggling with and I’ll do my best to support you as you do the same. And when it’s all said and done we’ll both be better educators and learners because of it.