Forget Perfect and #EmbraceTheMess

I ran across a fantastic blog post this past week written by a 9th grade teacher who mused over the idea of perfection in our profession.  In her post she reflected on the perspective that a set of recent visitors may had after leaving her class and observing a lesson that wasn’t exactly seamless.  Upon reflection the teacher said this:


Sydney is dead right; we need to drop this idea of perfection as a goal when we are talking about education.  Working with kids is reality and reality is messy.  We need to #EmbraceTheMess, rethink our expectations, and recognize what working together to develop learners is all about.

There is no such thing as the perfect student.  Granted, there are some that make better, more consistent, choices than others but I’ve yet to run up against a student who is error-free.  Part of growing up is sorting everything out and as a wise educator once said if you aren’t making mistakes, then you probably aren’t trying hard enough.  To expect perfection out of students is like asking them to perpetually play it safe, to never take risks, and to fear what happens if things don’t always work out.  We want our kids to be brave, not operate out of fear of a misstep.

There is no such thing as the perfect parent.  As most of you know I have a 3rd grader and an 8th grader and among the many words I would use to describe my journey as a parent, perfect is not one of them.  We do the best we can with what we have, right?  We raise our kids the best we know how, we tell them all the right things, but when we drop them off at school there will be 7 hours when we hope they make all the right moves.  Sometimes they don’t and we sort it out but it should never a referendum on what type of parent we are.

There is no such thing as the perfect school year.  My 11 years in the classroom and now 9 years in admin have been instructive, to say the least.  I have earned 2 master’s degrees, worked on 4 campuses, taught 4 different grade levels, in 2 different districts, and did a short stint at the administration building; one lesson I continue to learn is that each year will have successes and setbacks, each year is a special kind of rewarding, and none of my 20 years in education, in any capacity, have been perfect.  We strive for better, to learn from our mistakes, to be proactive in looking for pitfalls, to care for each of our kids, and to do our best to grow them as learners, and we will never expect that 180 day process to be perfect.

My Cat Chat articles this school year started out talking about embracing the new as we moved into a brand new, different type of building and from there I have thought about being a marigold, getting it wrong, and seeing things as nails if all you have is a hammer.  I passed the midway point in the year and moved on to difficult conversations, being empathetic, being more dog, and doing things specifically because they’re hard.  Do you sense a theme?  The difficulty of the work we do is only surpassed by the importance of the work itself.  I know what’s at stake and because of that thinking of the way we go about things matters.  A lot.

I’ve run out of time, and Cat Chats, this school year and there is little left to say other than enjoy your summer.  I can’t wait to see everyone in a few months when we kick off the 2017-2018 school year; it’s going to be perfect. 🙂