Tis the Season to be Grateful: First of all, I want to introduce you to our first post that includes our Month of Gratitude introduction. Karley and I have decided that we will each be doing a Month of Gratitude (both in our homes and here, on the blog). We each made our own Gratitude Advent Calendars for our homes and before every post for the month of December we will let you know what we are grateful for on that particular day – this might take a variety of forms and look different between the two of us but the idea is to acknowledge the gratitude we feel each day.
This post is a compilation post of a lot of random thoughts that have been running through my head over the past few months (well actually years probably but they have been prominent thoughts for a few months).
We Teach Who We Are
The idea of “We Teach Who We Are” is from Parker J. Palmer and encompasses a lot of my beliefs about who I am as a teacher. The main idea is that who we are as a person – our beliefs, values, morals as well as our judgements, perceptions, and misconceptions – shape how we teach and interact with the students in our classroom and that it is important to be aware of this.
So for me I know that I am a very positive, high energy, light-hearted and caring person but I am also very emotional, self-critical and often self-centred. In the classroom my positive characteristics shine through to my students and I have often been a confidant to many students in need. I also need to be aware that I have to constantly remind myself to listen generously before speaking and remind myself that it is not just my stories that matter but those of the other teachers/students that I am speaking with – Yes, I’m one of those people who often have a story that relates directly to your story and I want to share it the second you are finished. (Ironically, it is also one of my biggest pet peeves when people do this to me.) This is something that I’m working on as I know that it can negatively affect our classroom community.
This is a word that we often used in our research to represent the state of being and becoming at the same time. Being a new (and young) teacher I know that I am constantly in this state of be~coming at work but I am also very much in this state in my “outside” life. I’ve heard and read a lot about using your 20’s as a time for trial and error and working at becoming your “best you.” Over the past few months of really taking this advice to heart, I’ve started to work really hard to live by my morals and values at all times – this isn’t always easy of course but I think I’m learning so much from just trying to be a better me. One of my profs at university described Kohlberg’s “Six Levels of Moral Development” by explaining how she would always follow the speed limit in a school zone knowing that it was for a universal good but when she was alone on a highway and trying to get home following the speed limit would be done more for “following the rules” purposes and therefore sometimes she was more likely to break the rules.
One of the ways that I’ve been trying to change my actions and words are by thinking of my intentions behind each action or word. I find this a lot easier to do at school where I am constantly thinking about my actions and words anyways. It has been harder in my personal life to choose actions and words based solely on good intentions for a universal purpose. Following your own personal code at all times is an almost impossible task and I’m not trying to be perfect in my actions but I am trying to be more intentional with everything I do – whether it be a conversation when I’m upset, choosing a weekend activity, or even saving something I need to throw away until I get home to put it in the recycling.
I have also been trying to be more accepting and less judgemental of other people’s faults. Brené Brown says that we never judge people in areas that which we feel confident ourselves because judgement comes from a place of shame and insecurity. I try to remind myself of this before I make a comment about someone else’s shortcomings – what is my intention and why am I feeling insecure about this?
If you had asked me two years ago about trying to be my best me in order to be my best teacher/friend/partner, etc. I probably would have either been over confident or had a near breakdown. It has been a lot of work to get to a point in my life where working towards a goal does not involve stressing about being perfect, and I still have more work to do in this area. I think a big part of avoiding the perfectionist streak is being aware of this “culture of perfectionism” that permeates our lives everyday. When I am really honest with myself I can point out my own faults and imperfections and I can also point out my good qualities and strengths. This honesty has helped me to work on living by my morals without adding more stress to my own life.
I am not perfect – I am imperfect. And I am not working towards perfection – I am working towards living fully in each moment. I know that I will fail and I know that I will learn from those mistakes and regrets. I am lucky and I am blessed but I have challenges and many obstacles that I need to work hard to be okay with.
I Teach Who I Am
This person I am be~coming is as much of a choice as it is who I am. By working as much on my strengths as I do on my faults I feel more secure with this “me.” I can help others and I can help myself – at home, at school, in the community, in this world. This exploration of getting to know myself is an ongoing process and one which I am equally excited and nervous about. My greatest hope is that I will be able to truly reach other people in my life in a way that will make this world a kinder, more peaceful place for everyone. My greatest fear is that I will lose my passion to change when things become unclear.
This is a journey in which there is no final destination. This is my life and this is my choice – I want to live it fully.