Monday, January 19, 2015

"Done is Better Than Perfect"

Good afternoon! I am writing to you from my little tranquil historic home in Fort Worth, Texas, as the sun is peeking through the blinds and Ed Sheeran is gracefully crooning over my computer speakers. Today is MLK, Jr. holiday, and my fellow coworkers and I have the blessing to stay home and enjoy this beautiful day in January, where the temperature is 71 degrees and the sky is a periwinkle blue. I love days like today, where I get to just stay in my pajamas and slippers all day, sip hot herbal tea, see my husband on his lunch break, not put on a stitch of makeup, and just have some time to enjoy breathing, living, and thinking. Oh boy, do I do a lot of thinking on these kinds of days.

Some days of thinking are healthier and more productive than others. Some days of thinking leave me in a big ball of stress or self-doubt. Today is one of those thinking days that is the former- healthy, productive, and positive.

I have spent the past 5 hours or so once again rearranging my class's scope and sequence for the rest of the year, planning out a PBL on historical figures in the US, contacting a teacher in Pennsylvania about Skypeing with her class to share information about our beloved states, and creating several documents to go along with everything. This year has been such a whirlwind of trying to combine elements of Gifted/Talented education and strategies into the Texas state standards and expectations. I have clung to my precious Bloom's Taxonomy verb charts and higher-level question stems, built a PLN on Twitter to connect with other educators across the world for their expertise, filled journals with pages and pages of ideas- to only then be frustrated to have to choose between the ideas!- and spent many dear hours piecing together units that try to be as cross-curricular as possible. Evidence below:

I have learned so much this year, and have grown tremendously as an educator. I admit that some days are easier than others, when I revel in the fact that I get the chance to use my own innovativeness and creativity to create learning experiences for my students that I would have loved as a child. Some days I wonder if the work will ever end. Sometimes the thought that I have so far to go and so much to do and build can paralyze me into inaction. I then don't take any steps forward, and end up even more behind than before.

But the other day I saw this when perusing Lara Casey's blog, as well as a blog by my friend Casey Chappell.


And my life, once again, was changed.

So often as a woman, wife, friend, and teacher, I think that everything I do needs to be done perfectly. And sometimes, this disables me from doing anything at all. I find that if I can't do it to the fullest extent that it could be, I shy away from doing it completely- and time passes, days go by, and I still haven't done it. This manifests itself in so many ways in my life.

"I can't sit down and write music...I won't have enough time to make it a good song." "I can't start the laundry...I won't have enough time to fold it all so it won't have any wrinkles." "I can't cook that won't taste as good as that blogger made it taste." "I can't teach this unit...I don't have a perfect lesson plan stuffed with higher-level Bloom's questions and GT strategies and Thinking Hats and FFOE and art/writing/any connections and I won't do this topic justice..."

Sigh. Paralyzed from taking any action. But now...I recognize that getting things DONE is better than getting them done PERFECTLY. Because, frankly, I'm teaching myself this as I write it- nothing ever will be, or can be, perfect. Ever.

Getting things DONE doesn't mean that I do them half-way or in an incomplete, lazy fashion. I get them done to the best of my ability and celebrate the fact that I at least tried. I at least completed the task, put in my best effort, and am moving forward.

This, my friends, is my theme for 2015. Make it Happen. Done is better than perfect. It is so growth mindset- don't you think? We can't keep growing if we are stuck in the same place disabled by our own perfectionism or self-imposed standards. Growth happens when we make things happen. Despite them being imperfect.

My colleague and saving grace this year, Jeanette, taught me about Growth Mindset, a philosophy created by Carol Dweck, earlier this year on the second day of school when I was crying hopelessly in her office. Growth mindset has utterly and indefinitely changed my life forever. You see, the whole idea is that we as humans are continually growing and changing. Where we are now is not where we will always be. The lesson we screwed up on today isn't the measure of us as a teacher- it doesn't mean that we are terrible and should never teach again. The fight I had with my husband isn't the measure of our marriage- it doesn't mean that things are in disrepair and that we will never come out of it, or that I am a failure as a wife. 

No, these minor setbacks, these mistakes, these experiences, are all to serve the purpose of helping us to GROW. That lesson I messed up in the classroom? Because of it, I now know: What to not do in the future, what TO DO in the future instead, and how to change or tweak the lesson to be more successful. Now the next time I teach it, it will be better. That fight I had with Andrew? Because of it, I now know: what hurts Andrew and what to avoid doing in the future, ways I can love and respect Andrew better, things I need to repent for and ask for forgiveness for, and a deeper appreciation for him as my spouse.

Growth. Viewing mistakes and failures as opportunities for growth and change. This not only has changed me as a wife, teacher, and friend, but also as a daughter of the King. He doesn't look down on me with utter disgust and disappointment like I've always wrongly pictured him doing. He looks at me with compassion and love, teaching me and constantly using my sin and failure to conform me into the image of Jesus, gently leading me back as his lost sheep to his grand pasture.

And honestly, the biggest charge I'm taking from all of this is to "set my mind on things above" and not on things of the earth. Just like Romans 8 tells me, setting my mind on the flesh- death, despair, failure, sin- worry, stress, setbacks, disqualifications, accusations- whenever I set my mind on those things, you bet they sure don't bring me peace. It is when I set my mind on things above- love, hope, growth, sanctification, beauty, trust, rest, life, endurance, perseverance, character, all wrapped up in my beautiful Savior- that is when I do experience true peace that comes from Jesus.

So, as I continue on this journey of life, growth, and change, I am following Lara Casey's charge to reflect on a few things: What worked in 2014, what didn't work in 2014, and my yes and no list for 2015. I can't wait to post these things as I reflect and think on them all, and for 2015 to be the year where I am no longer paralyzed by inaction, but invigorated and inspired to do, be, create, learn, explore, LIVE.

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