Monday, 2 January 2017

A Cup of Contentment - Teacher Style!

     I decided to try the one word challenge for 2017.  If you are not familiar with it, it’s a New Year’s ritual where you choose just one word to focus on every day for the next year. It’s a word that represents who you want to be or how you want to live. 

Contentment Stones


     The fact that I had a hard time choosing just ONE word is exactly why “contentment” was the right word for me.  Even as a young child my mother would tell me that I was “never satisfied.” I’ve always been a “have your cake and eat it too” kind of girl.  This has not always been a bad thing as I’m pretty committed to continually improve, learn, and better myself (think growth mindset) and not afraid to take a risk. On the other hand, it’s rarely a peaceful state of being and often leaves me chasing perfection rather than gratitude. 
     So this “one word” led me to wonder, “What does a “contented”  teacher look like (and can she meet me at Starbuck’s tomorrow afternoon)?  


Here's what she might tell me as I got to know her over a cup of chai tea (cue up: Girl Crush).

I am a teacher who: 

Sets Priorities: 
I'm real clear on what my kiddos need at any given time and plan accordingly. I know what I believe about children and teaching and am less likely to get lost in a Pinterest search. I know that what the children REALLY need from me isn’t found in any of my teacher guides. I'm not constantly tempted by the next big thing as I am confident in what I already know works well. I know my limits and say no without feeling the need to give an excuse. I've done the math and am pretty sure that my curricular expectations are greater than the number of hours I have in any given day. I choose to do less well and not give my children a drive-through education.

Avoids Comparisons: I'm confident in my abilities and don’t get sucked into the scarcity mentality (i.e. there can only  be ONE good teacher).  I know that another teacher's awesome bulletin board doesn't make mine any less wonderful!  I appreciate the differences between colleagues and know that there isn’t just one right way of teaching.  I view these differences as learning opportunities that allow me to affirm and challenge my own beliefs about education.
Changes the Message: I'm cautious about social media and aware that the promise of “good ideas” comes with the "buy in" that I am not good enough as I am. I realize that perfection is not attainable even if it seems to keep showing up in my Pinterest feed! I'm constantly reminding myself that I am “good enough” and already have everything I need to teach my students well. 
Counts My Blessings:  I'm grateful I have a job and work that I love. I appreciate my classroom space and abundance of materials knowing that some teachers and students have very little.

Lives Passionately: I have other interests besides teaching and make time for them.  I see life as an adventure and know that every experience adds to who I am as a teacher.  I seek joy and inspiration and know that children are less likely to remember what I did, but rather how I made them feel. 

Finds Positive Friends: I avoid the naysayers who live in a constant state of discontentment and instead surround myself with positive people who accept me exactly as I am (flaws and all!).

Trusts Myself: I recognize that the nature of teaching is trial and error and that mistakes are part of the process.  I know that what works for one class/student may not work for the next and trust myself and the children to show me the way. 

While it would be really nice to meet up with this fictional sage teacher (I'm sure she just carries one really small teacher bag too!), it would be even better to move a little closer to being her! I didn't plan on writing this in first person, but now that I have, "her" words read a little like affirmations (one for each day of the week) that just might be helpful in finding a little more contentment in this "big bag carrying" teacher's life.   What's your "one word" for the new year? 



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