It’s true. There is no one I am harder on than myself. So often I complete something or accomplish a goal and only look at what’s still left to be done instead of celebrating what I have done before moving on. It’s something that, when you think about it, is not very ‘teacher’-y of me at all. Where’s the oreo feedback in my own practice? By that I mean, the good, the area of growth and another good comment. I’m always giving my students praise for their work and then guiding them where to go next, and even better than that, usually having the students self-identity their ‘glows’ (great things they are doing) and grows (areas of potential growth for the future).
I am constantly asking my students to reflect. What did you do well? How do you know? Why are you proud of this? What makes this a ‘good’ piece of work in your mind? How can this help you moving forward? Of course, we also have the opposite side to all of that - what do you need to work on, etc. We foster the ability for students to see the good in themselves and others but do we do this in our own practice?
Why does this not happen with teachers?
Why is it so hard for teachers to celebrate their own growth? Is it simply because we are always looking for ways to improve that we are almost blinded by our successes? Is it because we don’t want to ‘waste’ time on a plateau of praise when we could be jet-setting upwards with growth?
Even when we plan with other teachers, often the first thing we think about when we are reflecting on the unit or the part we spend the most time on is how to improve what we did, what didn’t work and how will we change it for next time. The very idea of ‘wow - great unit because of x, y, and z’ is often glossed over in order to get right to the growth section.
I love my Friday afternoon with my kids when we do our Positive Post time where we write notes and deliver them to people in our class and around the school who have positively impacted us or our class. I always try to send one to at least 1 staff member to help celebrate the positivity they’ve spread to me.
This past year I’ve slowly been trying to do a better job at the idea of personal self-reflection with the good things happening in my own teaching and professional life. Twitter, blogging and even presenting have helped with this but it still is something I struggle with. It’s easy for me to see it in others and what they do, but with myself, I sometimes have only one speed moving forward and don’t always look back.
What result would it have in our own teaching practice if we spent more time reflecting on our ‘glows’ - individually and collectively as a staff community? How would this change the culture of the school?
The old saying goes ‘stop and smell the roses’ - so maybe it’s time for us all to start planting more gardens in our own backyards.