Saturday, September 27, 2014

Advice to Myself

September is perhaps both the longest and shortest month in a teacher’s life.  I’ve said more than once lately that this is an “eight days a week” kind of job this time of year.  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.  At the same time, it’s slipped by quickly and I’m left shaking my head at all the undone items on my to-do list (including posting on this blog).  It seems I never feel even close to accomplishing everything I’d like to, either personally or professionally. 

Earlier this week, I typed an e-mail to a new fourth grade teacher, a friend of a friend, someone I’ve never met.  I doled out some quick advice at the request of the mutual friend and found myself closing with these words: “Relax and realize you won’t ever have everything exactly like you want it.  Just do the best you can and enjoy your students and know that as long as you care, they’re lucky to have you! 

Seems I could stand to follow my own advice.  As I close out what has no doubt been the most hectic week this school year so far, I find myself thinking of opportunities I’m missing to simply enjoy my students on a daily basis. In the midst of lesson preparation, parent conferences, staff meetings, and paperwork, how many times have I overlooked a unique opportunity due to focusing on some trivial matter in the future? 

Whenever I teach younger siblings of students I’ve taught before, I find myself wondering what the parents think of me the second time around.   I’m always changing (hopefully improving) the way I run my classroom and I’d say the trajectory of knowing what you’re doing in any job the first ten years is a pretty steep climb.  I always wonder if the improvements impress the parents or leave them shaking their head at how their older child missed out.  Seems silly, but it’s a trap of self-doubt I’ve battled many times.

However, today I’m giving some advice to myself:  Don’t be so busy worrying about the future or rehashing the past that you miss the present.”  I can’t change the kind of teacher I was five years ago, and that’s okay.  Because you know what?  Five years ago me wasn’t so bad… I was doing the best I knew how and I cared about those students just as much as I care about these I have now.  It wasn’t possible for me to create a “perfect” year for those students then, just like isn’t possible for me to prepare enough to make things run “perfectly” now.

The same is true for my personal life.  How many times, especially over the past few years, have I regretted the way I've handled a situation?  Wished I could go back and have another chance to handle it differently, more gracefully?  But of course, that's not how life works.  The only second chances we get are next time, not do-overs.  

All we can be is the current best versions of ourselves.  There’s no need to lose sleep trying to attain the impossible.  Just do the best you can.  Care about those around you.  And relax.  Just a little advice…from me to you, but mostly back to me.

1 comment:

  1. Deana. So good to know you through your profile on the blogger. I am glad to stop by your blog "Only Let us Live" and the post on it "Advise to myself" Very practical advise to self but it is so relevent and practical for others too. I am glad to know that your husband serving in the church. I am also in the Pastoral ministry for last 35yrs in the great city of Mumbai a city with great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. we reachout to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing to the broken hearted. We also encourage young people as well as adults from the West to come to Mumbai on a short / long term missions trip to work with us in the slums of Mumbai amongst poorest of poor during their vacation time. We would love to see some young people as well as adults who are interested in missions come to Mumbai to work with us in the slums of Mumbai during their vacation time. My email id is : dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar Wankhede. Looking forward to hear from you very soon.