Anyway, I know perfectionism sounds like one of those fake-ass weaknesses you tell an interviewer, along with "People tell me I work too hard" and "My problem is that I'm punctual all the time. Only. Ever."
Honestly though, perfectionism just means that I'm anxious for most of my waking hours, and even my sleeping hours. Somebody get this girl a chill-freaking-pill.
I have trouble giving myself the "Look at how much you've accomplished, things'll get better from here" pep talk. I tend to see things as all or nothing. "Did I accomplish all of my tasks today? No? F*CK!"
Worse yet, I set impossible expectations for myself as a teacher and I get upset when I don't meet my expectations.
I'm workin' on it.
First things first, I went home after 4th period today. I pushed myself to go to school on Monday even though I felt sick. I pushed myself to go to school on Tuesday even though I felt sicker. And I pushed myself to go to school today even though I felt sickest. By 9:30 a.m., I knew that today was not going to happen. I still stuck it out until 11:30 or so even though the sub had already arrived and then I went home. I brought work home with me. That was dumb.
All I could think about on the ride home was the shame that I felt for going home. I thought about this for a couple of hours.
And then I thought, "Damn. Maybe I'm a little too hard on myself. Maybe. Or maybe I should have pushed harder and stayed at school instead of going home."
Well. I'm learning to leave school at a reasonable hour even if that means leaving loose ends. I'm learning to pick my battles at school -- in particular, I only pick battles that I know I will win.
I'm reminding myself that "trial and error" means that I will be met by error after error. There's no room for a perfectionist in the game of trial and error unless I want to drive myself up the wall.
I'm reminding myself that life is not a series of 1s and 0s. It's not a matter of "I taught the right way today" or "I taught the wrong way today". I've been stressed out because every day has felt like a failure because I wasn't getting it 100% right or I wasn't getting my to-do list 100% done. I need to remind myself that I'm never going to get teaching 100% right. I'm not going to know what to do for every single student and/or I do not have the ability to reach out and address every single student in the exact way that they need. I can only do my best. Only. No more.
And it is possible to get my to-do lists 100% done if only I learn how to make manageable, attainable goals for myself. The problem so far has been figuring out what "manageable, attainable goals" looks like. One thing at a time. I've focused my past several class periods on just the Do Now. That's it. Just the first 10 minutes of class. The rest of the 50 minutes has been cuhh-razy, but that's OK because I'm focusing my energy on the first 10 minutes of class. I've improved. My next goal is to focus on positive behavior narration. That's it. Just that. I won't lose what I've gained with the Do Now -- I'm only going to build in my small successes.
Three positive behavior narrations followed by 1 correction. If I start getting overwhelmed and I need more time to correct someone's behavior, do 5 behavior narrations to give myself time.
I'm honestly not looking to be a stellar teacher anymore. I'm lookin' to get through the day. I'm lookin' to being able to put together some semblance of a lesson for my students and to make sure that they don't tear the room apart.
Oh, and also, no more bull sh*t in my classroom. I don't know what switched on inside of me, but I've definitely made what we call in the biz my "strong voice" stronger. Ain't no one messin' with me, my classroom, or my class. No excuses.