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August 30, 2011

A word of warning- I am feeling metaphorical today.

Sometimes life is a smooth sail on a sunny day.

Other times life is a long and windy road made up of rough and sharp lava rocks.

But it is always a journey, and a trait necessary to the journey is patience.

Teaching, much the same as life, is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. The other day I was experiencing a particularly deplorable low at the end of the school day. I was lamenting as to why my students couldn’t perform in the way I expected them, why they couldn’t catch on, and why they were behaving in the way that they were. I thought to myself, “We’ve already been in school for a month, how come these kids can’t get it together.

I am a very goal oriented and driven person. I set goals and go about making them happen. When this comes to my personal aspirations this drive is a strong motivating force for my accomplishments, but when I impose this impetus on others, it can leave me feeling disappointed when those others fail to perform.

This is the conundrum I was in when reflecting on my students. I wanted to see light bulbs going off all day from every student, that is where teachers get their gratification and warm and fuzzy feelings of a job well done. While we should strive for this, it is not a realistic goal for each child to “get it” every day at every moment. Learning is a process. Life is a process.

Instead of expecting success or learning in the short term, I should be looking at my students’ long term aquisition of knowledge. I might not be able to make them master writers today, but maybe I can improve their writing over the course of the school year, and they will carry on that improvement into writing mastery later on into their adult lives (or maybe they won’t). But the point is that life so rarely gives us those light bulb moments, where everything clicks all at once, so it is unwise of me to expect them. By expecting perfection or sudden goal attainment all of the time I am setting myself up for frustration and unhappiness.

Let’s extend this learning to all aspects of life. Nothing will happen automatically, life is a process. We have to keep working at a goal over a period of time to achieve it. Maybe we won’t even achieve it at all, but we will have grown as a person through the process.

So whatever it is that you are working on, be it writing a book, getting a degree, living a healthy life, etc.- don’t get caught up in momentary failure, slip-ups, or stalemates- be patient and focus on the long term view of your goal and work towards gradual improvement over time. Resting our hope on improving the future will create a much healthier state of mind than dwelling on disappointments in the past or present. Our lives and the world we live in are bound to change, we can help them change for the better.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2011 6:01 pm

    Wise words my dear. Your quite the philosopher today.

  2. Don Kroessig permalink
    August 31, 2011 9:01 pm

    Teachers plant seeds and we are often only able to witness the sprouting and slow growth that results from our careful nurturing. The flowering and development of fruit often take place when they have passed from our care and into others. Those occasions when we do see blossoms occur in our presence must sustain us and affirm the good work we do.

    “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” St. Augustine

    Don’t expect everything to happen right this moment, even though you sometimes wish it would. (paraphrased from a book of positive quotations)

  3. Ryan @ Aloha Appetite permalink
    September 2, 2011 3:02 pm

    Love this post for its positivity.

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