Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Choose...

There are so many choices in life. If you're like me, sometimes you want to pick the easiest one and move on. And sometimes that easiest one is not the best.

Sometimes you have to choose to believe in yourself. To hear what other people say and to know they just might be right. I'm going to share about one of the things I battle with most - perfectionism. If I can't do it right, I might not do it at all. Not in an "I don't care" way, but in an "I care too much and I'm afraid of messing up" kind of way.

I especially struggle with this in my career. People have told me since high school I would make a great teacher one day. In college, professors, friends, and others encouraged me and saw the love I had for kids and the creativity I brought out when I was planning, thinking about teaching, and writing. Then I got my first job as a "for real" teacher. Three and (almost) a half years ago. Already that long. Wow. I was excited! And...terrified. And people told me the same thing. Yes it would be a learning process, and no I would not be a perfect teacher (no one ever really is), but many people said, "You're a great teacher. Keep it up!"

Somewhere along the way I let myself believe those people didn't know what they were talking about. They aren't in my classroom every day, and they don't see how difficult it is for me to manage classes sometimes. They don't see how a class or two are so bored, and hear some kids saying they hate music. They don't see me wondering over and over again what I should plan or how I will teach it in a way the kids can relate to and want to participate. They. are. wrong.

Then there are days like today. Actually weeks like the past two...where for some reason I stop and say, "Hey - I did my best today, and that is all I can do. Some kids may have been bored, but I tried hard to keep everyone engaged somehow. Not every kid will love music, but I shared with them something that might make them enjoy coming to class." I am so truly thankful to God for two "good" weeks of teaching. It wasn't that I left school feeling like I accomplished everything I was supposed to, or that the kids learned every benchmark, or that my "to-do" list was all checked off. I just....cared. And I did my best. And that was enough.

So many people tell me I'm a wonderful teacher. And it is hard for me to believe them. (I'm certainly not writing this to brag.) These are people I know and see at school each day, people I grew up with, people I only see once in awhile, and sometimes even parents whose children "talk about music class all the time!" The easy choice is to believe the words and thoughts and doubts and fears I have in my mind, and to fight against the compliments. I feel inadequate a lot, but that can be a choice too.

Today I chose the not so easy option. It was a crazy day (Wednesdays always are in our school - the schedule is a little different and lots of things are going on on this day) - I had some challenging times where I was fighting to think of ways to engage my kids and some classes where I knew the kids left confused. But - I had some classes where the kids remembered some things from the past few weeks, and some classes where the kids were excited to sing. I had a group of 100 kiddos getting ready for a music program tomorrow (who I am so proud of and excited for!) and some special observers who dropped in (and even one who stayed the whole time) during three of my classes. But at the end of the day, I felt like a teacher. I thought - even with the crazy day when I was counting the minutes until it was all over, I knew my kids knew I cared. And one of the observers said, "You have great demeanor with the kids. You do so well with them." She had no idea how much I needed to hear that. And she was in my classroom. She did see. I was so surprised.

I guess I share all that to say...choices are a day by day thing. You can take the easy way, or you can take the not so easy way. But the choice is yours. Today I choose to believe God has called me to be a teacher right now, and I am following His calling...the best I can! He doesn't ask for perfect. He takes who I am, and what I'm doing, and makes it His. And that is what makes me a "great" teacher.

"Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." -Proverbs 16:3

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