Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Does It Count as an Accomplishment If You Are Supposed to Do It?

Accomplishments (and failures) are both very public things - especially in a really small school.  I have been thinking about this this question all day.  I even polled my students to hear what their secret accomplishments were.  It was a really great discussion, but it didn't really lead me to my own answer.

The thing about success and accomplishments is that they generally have an impact on someone other than the accomplisher.  So they are inherently not secret.  There is usually an audience, if only a small one.

On the flip side, there are accomplishments that the accomplisher doesn't know about - until later on, if at all.  These are the kids that you thought weren't getting anything from your class who come visit years later and tell you about how much your class meant to them.  Or the parent that you thought hated you all year who sends you a lovely note at the end of the school year thanking you.

This really only leaves those really personal, hard to think and write about goals that we set for ourselves.  Do I call on every kid?  Do I have the same expectations for each of my students?  Am I delivering this content in the best way possible?

These sorts of questions should haunt our practice.  We should review them and check for progress.  We should also forgive ourselves for the inevitable failures - the crash and burn lessons, the botched conference, the unintended hurt feels and the missed deadlines that all teachers experience.

But I still don't really have an answer to the question - what is the accomplishment that no one knows about?  Except, maybe this: I reflect.  I evaluate myself - sometimes harshly.  I take notes, blog, discuss with trusted colleagues what went wrong, research ideas for improvement. It is not always fun, nor is it something I have always been able to do.  I used to want to just forget the bad lesson ever happened and try something different the next day.  Now, I try to grow from my mistakes, rather than simply acknowledging them.  What can I learn from that botched lesson?  How can I make it better next time?  That conference went poorly - why?  What can I do differently in the future?

Does it count as an accomplishment if you are supposed to do it?  Reflection is something that we all should do, so maybe I'm cheating a little.  But to me, being a regular "reflect-er" is the one accomplishment that enables all my others.  It helps me to be forward thinking and proactive.  It enables me to make improvement a priority. And it has made this 30 Day Blogging Challenge really fun, rewarding and eye opening.  Thanks, TeachTought!
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