I had a student once tell me when I teach I speak in affirmations. I said I was a very awakened teacher and I would not be sitting here if I didn’t make a change. I was a good teacher, but I did so with a theater of voices in my head. No, I am not crazy, at least not officially. The cacophony of conversations in my mind was not so kind to me. I was a raging perfectionist that wanted control and proof of my worth. I sought that proof through assessment data.
Data was supposed to drive our teaching, but all it was doing, was driving me crazy. As I became more obsessed with the data, the more my patience dropped and the perfectionist took center stage. My student’s response to my anxious, nervous energy reflected how I was feeling. I fell into the pit of focusing too much on data results and not enough on the well-being of my students. No one was enjoying being in my classroom – myself included! I knew I had to make a change or I wouldn’t last long in education.
How did I begin to make that change? I started to let it go. I stopped worrying about being perfect. I stopped worrying about what administrators and teachers considered to be a “good” teacher. I knew I was a good teacher, but I was using student data, not to inform my teaching, but to measure my worth as a teacher.
I had to find better ways to find self-worth. I knew if I continued to base my worth on student data, my teaching career was not going to end well. So, I began the journey of self-care. I started using 10-15 minute personal mantras, which I use to this day. I repeat the mantras for a few minutes before I get out of bed, while I exercise, and before I go to bed. Here is an example:
I Believe I Am . . . [insert a characteristic you know to be true]
I Believe I Am . . . [insert a characteristic you think you have, but need a boost of belief]
I Believe I Am . . . [insert a characteristic you think you do not have, but would like]
To strengthen the mantra, I also visualize myself having the characteristic. Incorporating visualization and the feeling of having the desired characteristic allows your subconscious to begin to believe your desire.
After I began to let go of basing my self-worth on student data, I found I began to excel and enjoy teaching and my life outside of work. I relaxed more and worried less about what people thought about me. I focused less on the negative storyline in my head and more on connecting with my students. We, dare I say, started to have fun! 🙂
Let me know your thoughts on ways you have let go of the perfectionist in you? I have had some great responses from past articles. Thank you for reading and responding. I appreciate you! Keep doing great work! 🙂