Excellence in education is when we do everything that we can to make sure that they become everything that they can.Carol Ann Tomlinson
Pinterest perfection vs realistic imperfection
We have all seen them, those Pinterest posts of brightly coloured, themed and seemingly perfect classrooms. Those classrooms that are colour-coordinated, meticulously labelled and functionally systematic. Those classrooms that, let’s be honest, put the ordinary to shame! As a teacher who frequents Pinterest territory for ideas and inspiration, I can admit that I have on many an occasion, experienced “Pinterest Pressure”. That commonly diagnosed condition amongst teachers of which the symptoms are; increased expectations, self-doubt, unnecessary comparisons and a sense of longing”.
I am by no means disputing the fact that Pinterest, in all its glory, serves as a melting pot for creativity and inspiring classroom ideas but I am cautioning against using it as a measuring stick for one’s own reality. The fact of the matter is, that while we all aspire to reach perfection within our professional capacity, we can just as easily drop the ball and shift our focus from what truly matters.
It is only natural for us to start the year off bright eyed and bushy tailed, our inspiration tanks filled and ready to go but as soon as we hit our first pothole we stumble…we waver, we tire, and we doubt. At some point, the everyday challenges that we as teachers face catches up with us and we realize that no matter how much we try to hide behind our beautifully coloured classrooms and wall charts, on the inside…we are not perfect. What happens when no one is watching is not perfect. Our children are not perfect and sometimes things get messy. Yet in the midst the messiness and the imperfection, arise the most amazing and meaningful learning opportunities. In allowing yourself to loosen the reigns of perfection a little, and allow your spaces of learning to become safe environments that welcomes imperfection, we unlock the magic found in the ordinary. In essence, we enhance the ordinary and allow it to evolve into the extraordinary.
Along the way on personal my teaching journey; I have made peace with the fact that I am an imperfect teacher with an imperfect classroom and imperfect planning skills! Yet despite my imperfections, my classroom has become an imperfect place of wonderful learning opportunities, joy and magic moments. Together with my learners, we experience success, we experience failure and we experience success through our failure. We learn to embrace the quirkiness, our differences and similarities. We learn to support one another through the challenges and understand that everyone’s measure of success is different. We build character and learn to value our little community. My classroom may not be Pinterest perfect but that does not mean that good things don’t happen. In fact, my classroom is perfect because we are all wonderfully imperfect! I can admit that it has taken me a while to acknowledge and embrace this fact.
That is not to say that every year I don’t strive to enhance my skill set, better my practice and improve on my areas of weakness. As teachers, we are called to be reflective practitioners in our own right. We reflect at the end of every lesson, at the end of every day, at the end of every term, and at the end of every year. Reflection leads to correction and improvement. However, I encourage you to not get so wrapped up on the reflecting and correcting part that we lose sight of the magic moments that inadvertently take place in between. Everything exists in a delicate balance – allow your search for perfection to exist in a balance with your acceptance of imperfection.
What we do matters and it matters every day, which is why it is not always easy. Be kind to yourself and others. Just as we encourage our children to make and learn from mistakes, allow yourself to make mistakes so that too can learn and grow. Whether your classroom is Pinterest worthy or not, know that YOU as a teacher are worthy! Success and excellence is subjective, so set your own bar from which you choose to measure your greatness – align your vision for your classroom in the New Year with values and principles that you hold dear. Seek to be the best version of yourself that you can be – we may not all be Pinterest perfect but we are WONDERFULLY IMPERFECT and that counts too!