Thursday, April 30, 2015

I've Failed and It's Not OK

As the students work on their projects for 20 Time, my 20 Time project is the 20 Time project if that makes sense. When I look at this year, I feel like I have not done a very good job. I honestly feel like a terrible teacher. I have to go into more detail, but that is just what I feel as I sit here at the computer.

Last year was an amazing year for 20 Time. I felt like I had the perfect collection of students and the enthusiasm of trying something new in the school. Kids were excited and things ended with a TEDx event. At the end of the year, I was burned out and was not sure if I could do 20 Time again because of how much it took out of me. I convinced myself that the next year will be easier because I know how to do everything and I can make adjustments based on the first year experiences. I think that was my first mistake.

My body was trying to tell me something about the amount of work that a project like this takes. For me especially, I give my all to my students. Some do not see it, but I take it to heart when a student is not happy in class or life in general. I carry the weight of their problems around when I know times are tough. I lose sleep because I worry about all of the things they worry about and I want to create the best possible learning environment for all of my students. When I find out that something I said or did has bothered or hurt a student, it sticks with me for weeks. I wear my heart on my sleeve and it is painful at times, but I feel it makes me who I am. Despite the toll 20 Time took on my, I jumped in for this year thinking I could make it better. I did not.

For this year, I was much more hands off. I wanted to give students more freedom in their projects and really see where they go. I see now that this was a big mistake and I feel I have failed my students in a way I can never make up. My job is to guide them and I feel I did not guide them nearly as much as I should have. Supporting students in work is such a fine line. I do not want to be too involved and I do not want to be absent. I thought last year I was too involved and now I realized I might have been involved just the right amount and that is why everything went as well as it did.

This realization does not fill the whole in my gut though. Failing because you are trying something new is one thing. Failing after doing something that went well feels much different. Was I selfish in backing away this year so I would not be so spent at the end of the year? Was I too loose with everything this year because I was confident in how it went last year? Is my ultimate sin Hubris? If it is, I'm so embarrassed.

My school went to the Henry Ford museum for a PD day. One of thing my principle said about Ford was that he was the leader, but he became complacent and others caught up and surpassed. As a school we cannot become complacent with what works. Instituting 20 Time in the first place was a way I tried not to be complacent. However, since it went so well, I think I became complacent and that has lead me here.

People have told me that trying something new and it not working out does not make me a bad teacher. My principal has told me this is an opportunity for growth. I am a believer in the Growth Mindset, but when something blows up in your face, those are just words when you are hurting.

I titled the post "I've Failed and It's Not OK" because I feel the failure was foreseeable and that is why it is not ok. I'm afraid that this failure will keep me from trying new and different things. It really has me questioning my approach all together. I think only time can help me figure this out.

As I close this post, I know it is important to think about the future. What do I do to move forward? Do I bring 20 Time back? Do I change everything? Is this a failure I can come back from? Reflections pieces do not have to have answers. Sometimes asking the right questions can lead to the right answers later on. I just hope I'm asking the right ones.

Hugs and High Fives,


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