Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Am Enough

I wish someone would have told me how competitive teaching is. It most likely wouldn't have stopped me from following my dream, but I would have been prepared for it. The push to have the classroom with the best use of higher-order thinking skills or the best use of technology or the students who do the best academically is enough to drive me crazy. 

We had an afternoon of PD today, and, for me, it was a hard one to get through. We just went 1:1 in grades 2-12 this year, and each K-1 classroom has 8-10 iPads for student use. Our big focus is the implementation of this new technology. Today, we worked on going through our district's technology standards and creating a document of the different ways we have used technology to meet these standards in the past. This, in and of itself, is a valuable use of time. It allows our district to see what we have done and identify areas of weakness to focus on in future PDs. That's a great purpose, and something we definitely need to do. What bothers me (and this might just be me - I can only speak for myself) is that I felt an undercurrent of insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. I looked at the list of standards, which is very similar to the NETS standards which I'm familiar with, and felt incredibly defeated. There were very few things I could think of to go with these standards, and that realization crushed me. 

This afternoon is not the only instance of these feelings. It's hard to not feel jealous and inadequate when I read on Twitter about the super cool things other teachers are doing. Simply walking through the hallways of my school can elicit those feelings as well. I think, "Wow, that project is really cool. Why didn't I think of that?" or "Look at her kids' handwriting. It's beautiful. My kids aren't writing like that. What am I doing wrong?" There are days I want to just lock myself in my classroom with my class and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist. It can be hard to find confidence in myself. As I sat at my table this afternoon with my PLC, which consists of teachers with many years of experience, I could feel how even they felt overwhelmed and lost by what these standards were asking of us. 

Why do I feel so much pressure to be Teacher of the Year? I don't know how this compares to other professions - I've only ever been a teacher. Does this pressure exist everywhere? If so, why do we do this to ourselves? I'm not sure where all of this competition comes from. I can only guess that it comes from the increased focus on teacher accountability and standardized test scores or from the transparency of our classrooms through social media. On thing I know for sure is it's easy to compare myself with those around me.

It takes all of us, though, to make the best schools. I might be good with one thing, but my teacher neighbor might be good with something completely different. I have to keep telling myself that I am enough. I do enough. I care enough. I can have dreams and aspirations - I should have those - but I need to remember I cannot do everything all the time. 

I am enough.

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