I have had quite the scary week and a bit. I won’t bore you will all the details, but my blood pressure went through the roof and stayed there for 6+ days. It caused me to be shaky, light-headed, and, according to my doctor, a prime candidate for hospitalization. Through some fast talking and negotiation, she allowed me to stay home with the strict orders: immediate meds, a series of tests, no caffeine, no drinking, no salt and definitely no work.
So, why am I posting this on my class blog? This medical scare (that is often related to stress, but not always) got me thinking about my commitments and how they have been affecting me. I have taken on a lot this year. I have many responsibilities through work. Some were my choice: mentor, tech person, social committee lead, teacher-librarian helper, and classroom teacher of 27 rambunctious little 8 year olds; and some were not my choice: new curricula to learn, a new report card, SMART Goals provided by the division. Then, outside of work, I had taken on a grant application, an exercise regimen, my participation in Twitter and this class. That seems like a lot when it is all written down like this. This experience has forced me to look at some things to let go of, and some things to modify, if not my participation, than my thinking about it.
I have decided to let the grant application go. The deadline was next week. I was looking forward to it because I was learning how to edit video for this grant and the money would have helped with my final project for this class, but there is no way I can get this done in time and follow my doctor’s orders. The kids that I worked with will be disappointed, but they will just have to understand that health comes first.
Then I got to thinking about this class and my reaction to it. I am a bit of a perfectionist. Often when I hear amazing teachers speak, instead of walking away feeling inspired to try new things, I feel inadequate and compelled to do EVERYTHING they suggested, just to keep up. I love learning new things, but my all or nothing mentality has left me feeling a little… stressed. I read about the wonderful things our guest speakers are doing. I read about the wonderful things my classmates are doing (and some, I admit, I don’t understand). I feel like if I don’t understand everything, I won’t be “good enough.” I know what I want to learn out of this class, but is it enough to keep up with the others and be worthy of a “Grad Studies” class. I worry about these types of things all the time.
Then I got to thinking about Twitter. I follow 516 people. I used to try to read every Tweet. Sometimes I would feel inspired by what I read and sometimes I would feel, as I did with this class, that I was not good enough to be amongst these people, that I am not doing enough. There are so many wonderful people doing wonderful things, and there are often so many negative comments about what some teachers are doing (including myself), how could I ever be good enough?
So, here is what I have come up with during my forced leave:
- I follow 516 people on Twitter. 140 characters allows me to see the BEST of what they are doing. It gives me a snapshot of greatness. 516 snapshots in fact. I need to learn that I, alone, cannot possibly live up to 516 people’s moments of greatness. So, I need to read, maybe learn a thing or two, but learn to say “great job” and move on.
- I need to learn that the people I follow on Twitter and the students in this class all come from different backgrounds, different experiences, different access to technology and are working with different age groups. I cannot possibly do the same things that they are doing because of my particular set of circumstances. I work with young children. These are children who are not of the age to join social media sites. So, everything I am learning in that regard needs to be for me, as a teacher, or about the philosophies that I can apply for my students. I don’t need to know everything that my classmates know. Some of them have been working a lot longer with many of these tools than I have. I need to remember that as long as I am moving forward, I am good. I teach my students with this belief, I should be able to allow this “forward progress” mentality for myself too.
- The negative comments I read on Twitter are not directed at me personally. Even if they would be, I have to remember that these people don’t know me or my situation. They, too, only get 140 characters of who I am. Yes, I do some of the things that are frowned upon by Twitter members, but I do so many good things too. For example, yes I have my desks in rows. (140 characters) However, this is a space issue in my class and my students are often turned this way and that, talking to and collaborating with others. (More than 140 characters). I can only do what I can do. I have to learn to accept that. It is okay to do what I have to do to make my classroom functional.
So now that I have found some “mental” perspective, I need to incorporate some balance into it… What do you think? Have you had experiences like this? What do you do to talk yourself down from that feeling of perfectionist inadequacy? Please share any advise that you have.