Whew! How is it ONLY Tuesday?! I've survived 2 full days with the kids and all I can say is, I am SO exhausted. Training kindergartners (and their parents) to understand the concept of schools requires at least 10 hours of sleep a night and since I keep waking up at 4 am thinking about all that I need to do, I'm lucky if I get 7!
Growing up I was not a perfectionist at all. Just ask my mom. I drove her insane with my careless cross outs on my homework, and my absolute refusal to recopy something just because there were a couple of mistakes on it. I was not the kid who practiced piano for hours, or cried if I didn't get the answer right in class. Nope, not me.
Then, I started teaching. Suddenly the overwhelming need for perfection took over. Except when 21 5-year-olds and their equally unpredictable parents are involved, there is absolutely no such thing.
Never ever will I have the perfect class. Never ever will all the parents be satisfied. Never ever will all the children learn to read without any bumps. Never ever will every kid skip into the classroom in delight to be there. Never ever will every kid being a good sport during math games, or a good listener during lessons. Never ever will every lesson go as planned or every faculty meeting be productive.
I know this. I do. But in my mind, I still strive for it. I still think, maybe if I take the time to check in with every parent in the first week of school then maybe they will not all bombard me at Curriculum Night wondering how little Johnny is doing. I still think, maybe if I get to school a little earlier then I can make a visual for this activity and no one will ask "what are we doing again?" right after I just explained it. I still think that maybe if I revamp my beginning of the year letter for the sixth time maybe I can prevent all the ridiculous questions.
This may sound irrational to you, but when you consider what parents, principals and the general public actually expect of teachers, it's really quite rational. Nobody can get hurt and/or upset and everyone must reach grade level and if they are already beyond, don't even think about boring them. You get the gist.
So, here is how I plan to quell the perfectionist in me this school year. All of these ideas could be used to tame any perfectionism in you, even if you aren't crazy enough to teach the five-year-olds.
1. Delegate. This year I plan to use my special education aide better. I'm going to meet with her once a week during what used to be a pretty silly consult time and tell her all the plans for the next week and what I want her to do. She's a certified teacher so I can really rely on her to do more planning. If I am going to have kids in my class that demand tons of differentiation, I should use the support I am given the best I possibly can.
2. Prioritize. On Monday mornings I am going to set goals for the week. I'm thinking 3. Then, that is going to my major priority, anything else that gets done is just a bonus :)
3. Say No. Self explanatory. I'm going to do it. Every time I do, I'm going to celebrate.
4. Leave the work, at work. I always hear about the greatness of not taking work home, but I never really considered it. Frankly there are some tedious tasks that I would just rather do in front of the TV rather than staying at work an extra hour to do it. However, recently my best friend Katie mentioned that she was trying not to take any work home this year and I started to consider it more seriously. I still think there will be times that I will do work at home, especially during report card and conference time. But last year I was at a point where I was constantly taking work home. This year my goal is to leave work at work at least 3 nights a week, and hopefully more.
Are you are perfectionist (at least in some areas of life)? How do you tame the perfectionist in you?