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PerfectGood

I woke up this morning and wanted a Mulligan. A retake on this week that had just begun.

How can it be Tuesday and my to-do list is already making me want to close my eyes and forget it altogether? Landry is overflowing; dishes are in the sink; I’m 4 days behind on the blogging challenge; My lesson plans are secure in my head, but not down on paper for my co-teacher; Both my manicure and pedicure have a nail that is completely ruined; and I have an email that needs a reply haunting me for the 5th day.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

This quote pops into my head–likely because of my nearly comatose browsing of Pinterest before sleeping last night. And I make it my mantra. Dishes will wait, shoes will not be open-toed, I will write those lesson plans (right after this post), and I WILL write for today’s prompt. And my “perfect” plan for Day 13’s prompt will wait.

And she looked around at saw that it was good.

So often those who work in education don’t have enough time to accomplish all of the good things they can see in front of them. Almost nearly as often, educators strive to be better than good, to be perfect or nearly so. I struggle with this on a nearly hourly basis. Ideas fly through my head and I think That would be cool…Ooo, that too!…I wonder when I could create that?

Today’s prompt: If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

My superpower would be to clone myself for the day. That way I could get just a bit closer to that “perfect” and settle a little less for the “good.” I could have one of me working with my hard-working Nepalese student who barely speaks English, but desperately wants to get an American education so that she can be successful in this new land.

Simultaneously, I could have one of me sitting at my desk doing the tedious administrative tasks that seem to take hours: sending printing jobs to the district office for return in 3 days, replying to emails, ordering supplies for the classroom, organizing recently delivered materials to a spot where I can find them later.

Another one of me could be conducting writing conferences where I help each student dig deeply into understanding her voice in writing. I could help him understand a difficult grammar concept that just didn’t stick when I taught it in class. I could pay attention to the one student who always tries to shrink into the back corner–draw him out, help him understand what a valuable gift he has to offer our class discussion.

While all of these clones are working, I could be preparing for the next class by reflecting on what worked and didn’t last time I taught this concept. Reminding myself of the unique students who will be in front of me, and carefully crafting a plan that challenges them without confusing them. Engages them without pandering. Creates a genuine curiosity rather than a general compliance. This lesson would rock.

Daydreaming about cloning and superpowers reminds me of a post written recently about the myth of the lone, superhero teacher. In this post (a highly recommended read!) Justin Minkel points out that Hollywood would have us believe that the only way to reach students with inspirational teaching is to be the lone wolf in the pack. To isolate, reject, and rise above. To have a secret superpower and refuse to share it.

But aside from a quick daydream, wishing for a superpower only keeps me from accomplishing the good that I could be doing. Complaining about my lack of time to do everything perfectly only wastes the gratitude I have for what’s working.

So without further ado, I will let this day-dream exist, but turn from it to embrace the rest of the tasks on my to-do list today. Because dreaming about perfect will rob me of the time to accomplish good, and that may prevent me from finding my true superpower.

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