If I'm being honest with myself, this is something I have battled my entire life, probably since at least elementary school: the quest for perfection and approval. This perpetual roller coaster ride has always been a source of joy and, at times, enormous amounts of stress.
Currently, I am in my fourth year of teaching. I feel that, for the most part, I am really starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. I am starting to gain so much more confidence in my abilities. However, I still feel that familiar pang of anxiety from time to time.
For me, this year has been a great test. We consolidated two elementary schools into one. This led to a HUGE change in protocol, management, paperwork, and ultimately, in the school climate itself. I have a new principal that I felt the urge to impress during my four annual observations. I have had an extremely challenging group of students due to academic and behavioral stumbling blocks. I've faced incredible accusations from one disgruntled parent. In addition, I'm also plugging away at my Masters and planning a July wedding. Phew!
Through all of this, I have learned a great deal. The fact that my class is, at times, very difficult makes me feel so much more satisfaction when they are successful... and it makes me adore them even more! The fact that I had a parent attacking my character and teaching made me realize how much my administration backs me and endorses what I am doing within the classroom. The observations with my principal turned out to be my saving grace, and they ended up silencing (to some degree) the unhappy mother. In fact, the superintendent and curriculum directer had also meandered in to watch me teach Writing Workshop a few times, so luckily for me, it was evident to all of them that the parent's claims were completely unfounded.
While it still baffles me and hurts me to know that I have one parent that, despite endless meetings and correspondence, still feels that her child has been slighted by me, it is comforting to know that I have the support of my administration and colleagues. It helps to know that the other room-parents are some of my closest allies and advocates. I learned, through this, that I'm not always going to make everybody happy, no matter how many times I bend over backwards to do it, or how many hours I spend planning engaging, fun, challenging lessons. We just can't please everybody.
While that is hard for me, I am learning to please me. I am trying not to drive myself crazy in Grad school, and trying to learn that not every assignment has to be returned with a perfect score. I'm learning that I shouldn't feel guilty for going tanning for a few minutes a day. I'm learning that I shouldn't feel guilty for going for a run. I shouldn't feel guilty for planning my wedding or spending time with my fiance. In fact, that may be what I've really been missing out on while I've been obsessing about being the perfect teacher. While I was worrying about cheating everyone else, I was really cheating myself. Now that I have resigned from coaching cheerleading and track and have learned to say "No", now that I have begun to lose the twenty-five pounds I have gained over the past three years I've spent immersed in my lessons, I feel so much more invigorated and energized. I realize that I will teach better lessons when I am living a well-rounded, balanced life. :)
Thanks for this post. It allowed me to see that I'm not alone in this ongoing battle. Best of luck in your journey. Just know, that you have the approval of so many people that truly value your contributions to Scholastic, and essentially, our classrooms. Also, I want you to know that the reason my superintendent and curriculum director came to watch my Writing Workshop a few times is because of my adoption of Units of Study. My students have been crafting phenomenal texts. Thanks for sharing the posts on the program last year. It appears as though I may be conducting an In-Service on it next year, and we may be adopting it for use throughout the school. :)
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