Perfection is clearly not attainable. That can be agreed upon for sure.
Although we can identify the qualities we want to exude and work tirelessly to succeed at them. If we want to stay sane, we must understand it is a process, one that is eternal.
As we work to achieve this level of mastery in our own lives, we must outwardly model the process for our students and colleagues, making sure to share transparently the successes and failures that accompany the journey.
There will undoubtedly be days where the cut won't be made, but rather than judge that experience too harshly, reflection is what's called for. Imagine the growth potential if when we don't have a great day, we examine the reasons why and put safeguards in place for making the best of a less than awesome situation.
As a recovering perfectionist, I spend much of my time still reaching for the unattainable, but with the knowledge that I will likely never get there, largely because the bar keeps moving higher with every achievement. Learning is the perfect never-ending cycle of growth because there is always something more to experience and gain.
Having a growth mindset is an opportunity to really allow ourselves to experience life and gain valuable knowledge for moving forward regularly.
For example, despite the fact that I've been teaching for 14 years (at the time this post was originally written), there are days I still struggle with making the most of learning time. Plans are always made, but often enough plans must be abandoned. Whether it takes too long for me to realize what I've organized isn't working for the group of kids in front of me, or we spend too much time explaining rather than working, I take time to consider what went wrong.
Many people ask me how I manage to write as much as I do, but my writing is a part of my reflective practice. It offers me the opportunity to critically explore the realities of my day and make important decisions and adjustments moving forward. It keeps me honest.
Here are some ways to consider modeling the growth mindset:
Know what the end product looks like in your mind and tirelessly try to make that happen. It will likely take many tries, so be transparent about the process of getting there.
Don't worry about the mess of the process as that is where the learning happens and students will appreciate knowing that adults struggle the same way when trying to achieve a goal.
Be open about missteps and failures. Share how they happened and openly reflect on why you think they did. More importantly, talk about how you got through it and what you plan on doing differently next time. The only time failures are bad is when we choose not to learn from them.
Take risks without the worry of being wrong. There is no possibility of growth unless we are actively putting ourselves out there.
Talk to people about what you're doing and if you can't talk with folks in your building, blog about it or write about it and share it with your larger PLN.
Ask a lot of questions.
Don't be afraid to not have answers and be honest about not knowing.
Work hard to achieve goals, always showing the steps along the way. If you don't know something, ask someone you know does. Or join a chat or go to an edcamp. Network with people who can share experience and provide supports as you move on your journey.
Read books that support your growth and to support the books, read the blogs of people who have paved the way before. Reach out to the people who inspire you.
Share your story at conferences and with your colleagues during professional learning time at school.
All of us are a work in progress, even if that sounds cliche. So what kind of work are you? How well do you model the behaviors you expect of others? Where can you improve? Please share
This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in October 2015