Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Am Me, and I Can't Be You

As we close out the second six weeks of our school year, I've been doing a lot of reflecting.

My first six weeks was a complete disaster.  I was a mess and it reflected on my students.  And as I've looked back at the difference between my first and my second six weeks I noticed what I had done.

I spent the entire summer learning.  I'm a learning addict (heard that phrase from Eric Sheninger).  I was on twitter, blogs, and facebook almost every day this summer learning from and with incredible people in education.  I was gaining all these wonderful ideas of ways that other educators were incorporating awesomeness into their classrooms.

Then the school year began, and I tried implementing all these great ideas I had been learning.  And I failed....and failed miserably.  I couldn't get hardly any of these "amazing" ideas to work, and I figured it must be me.  I must be that teacher who isn't "as good" as those teachers I was reading about and interacting with online.  I was destroyed and I felt like the biggest failure.  And I came to school upset, downtrodden, and bruised.  And it began to reflect onto my students.

Then something hit me.  I was trying too much, and more importantly I was trying to be something I wasn't.

Let me explain....I had allowed myself to believe that some of these incredible people I was reading about or interacting with, were better than me.  I had allowed myself to believe that my ideas weren't as good.  I had allowed myself to believe that I was "less than".

I thought I had to do all these things I was reading about so that I could be a better teacher.  And I overwhelmed myself.  And in turn I became a teacher I didn't recognize or like, because I tried to do things that weren't me or my style.

So I went back, and started doing what I had done before.  Ideas that I had used before with great success, I began to tweak.  I began to change little things here and there to make my ideas even better.  And I stopped trying to be the amazing teachers I was reading about, and I started trying to be me.

Now that's not to say that those teachers weren't and aren't still doing great things, they ARE!  But through all of this I realized that I am doing great things too!  And I shouldn't dis-count myself because my insecurities made me believe that my ideas weren't as good.

So I write this in saying, I feel like that's what happens when many of us become "connected educators".  We begin to feel like there's so much greatness happening in other classrooms, and we begin to feel like our ideas aren't as cool as we thought anymore.

Well here's what I learned....we're ALL doing great things!  And we're doing great things that fit the needs of OUR students.  Can we get better?  YES!  But that doesn't mean we have to become someone different entirely.  We may just need to tweak some things here and there.  And that's where I've truly found the value in connecting online.  Now I have a network that I am not trying to become like, but I'm using them to help me become a better version of myself through asking them for advice, help, and just a listening ear for me to vent to.

Because in all honesty, I am ME, and I can't be you.