Saturday, March 21, 2009

On Failure, Part 5: It's Not About You

This is part of a two week series on my five biggest failures and five biggest successes as a teacher this year. This marks the end of the first half of the series. "On Success" will begin on Tuesday, March 24th and continue through Saturday, March 28th.

Of the many failures I've had this year, the worst is something I've yet to conquer over six years of teaching. I still take everything too personally.

I'm still trying to understand exactly why it is I let things bother me to the point where it affects me in and out of school. I do know at least a few reasons that contribute to the problem:
  1. I care deeply about this profession and the job I do. I am so invested in what goes on in the classroom that when a student is not as invested as I am--or not invested at all--I can't shake the feeling that it's a personal shot at me. I think I wear my heart on my sleeve--it's pretty obvious to anyone who's been in my classroom for a few days that I put a lot of work into what I do and I really do care that my students learn something valuable.
  2. I don't shake things off easily. If something bad happens, it takes me a while to shrug it off. I'll carry the frustration with one bad class or incident into the next period, which just makes things worse. I'm not good at hiding my feelings, so my most attentive students quickly pick up on what's going on and it affects them. Of course, this just makes me more frustrated, and I just try to focus on the work.
  3. Poor sleep or lack of sleep affected my mood and focus. I don't like to admit it, but I'm well aware of how much or little sleep I get can determine the course of a day. Unfortunately I'm still working on getting more quality hours of sleep.
  4. Everything I've written about this week.
I know I'm made huge strides over my career in terms of taking things less personally, but I've still got a long way to go. I don't know what it will take to get past this--or if I'll ever get past it. I just hope I keep trying to get better.

In a Sentence
Don't take anything personally, even if it's meant that way.