Not the Best Thing I Do

Nike Swoosh

My last post on the Best Thing I do as a teacher (at least for now) caused me to reflect on the opposite. I prefer not to call it the “worst” thing (how scary!), but rather the thing I most want to fix. Like my students, I fear Messing Up. Sometimes it paralyzes me. So I wait, procrastinate, rationalize, ruminate, don’t start.

In other words, I’m bad at FAIL-ing, making that First Attempt At Learning.

Rather than focus on the well-documented reasons why people delay doing hard or unfailiar work, I want to focus on the ACTIONS my students and I can take to improve at FAIL-ing.

1. Just do it.

Nike got it right. Often the solution is just to start. Don’t wait to collect absolutely everything that MIGHT be required to do a good job on a task — perfect supporting quotations, clean paper, sharpened pencils, appropriate playlist, favorite sweatshirt, warm beverage — just get SOMETHING down on the page. This jump start may be enough to propel the task forward.

2. SAIL.

Get beyond the FIRST Attempt At Learning to the SECOND Attempt at Learning. In some ways this assumes the inadequacy of the first attempt, but that’s okay, if it gets my students and me moving.

3. Be kind to myself.

A prominent quotation on my classroom wall is “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” Ironically, we often forget to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others.

Okay, time to go and just do it!

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