Some teachers are highly driven to build their craft on the extreme edge of innovation, challenging their students to continually push the boundaries of what is possible. One look inside of the classroom of a teacher like this can make us feel like we will never measure up.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we have to do what 'they' are doing. Fear of judgement can creep in, leaving us to feel confined, constricted, and pressured into having to 'keep up'. Whether it be the amazingly designed display board of mistake-free student work, the perfectly constructed lesson that goes off without a hitch, or using cutting-edge technology in our teaching, we can easily fall prey to thinking that this is what we must do.
Trying to always compete and keep up with our colleagues is not only mentally exhausting, it is absolute proof that we need to re-calibrate and return back to what 'WE' do best. What makes us uniquely great at what we do? What strengths do we possess that allow us to show up for students with consistency? And how can we double down on those strengths to ensure that every one of our students has endless opportunities to thrive and flourish in our classroom?
Every day we have the chance to lead, to connect and create great teaching moments that we are proud of. An imperfect display board with mistake-ridden student work can sometimes be the greatest sign that we are celebrating learning in ways that matter most. It may look like total chaos to people passing by in the hallway, but deep creativity and autonomy lies directly below the surface. The same goes for the imperfect lesson or shaky use of technology.
If we have the best of intentions that strongly connect to the main aims of a unit and always put our students at ground zero of what we do every day, how can we not be a true champion of teaching. Aspire to get better, learn from colleagues, take chances to innovate and create new ways of teaching, but do so in a way that lets your own strengths shine. If you find yourself falling into the 'comparison trap', remind yourself of what you do best and keep rolling.
Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.