Taking Notes

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 06 2011

on being too open

Below is a post I typed up about a week ago but had forgotten to publish.  For the two people who actually read this blog- an update to this post is forthcoming… so in the words of the great lyricist Jesse McCartney, ‘don’t stress, don’t stress, don’t stress.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfXpRn8uFL8&feature=related\”It\’s not your fault\”

It probably seems unnecessary for someone who keeps a public blog on the internet, but I am generally speaking a pretty open book.  Unless I think it will hurt someone’s feelings or ruin a surprise, if someone asks, I pretty much always say exactly what is on my mind without reservation or hesitation.  I recognize that this is not a personality trait so much as a privilege resulting from me never having been truly burned from opening up to someone.

So anyways in my various advisory and debrief sessions (with my CMA, with my Behavior Management Coach, School Director, etc) I’m pretty honest with them and therefore critical of myself.   The job of pretty much everyone at institute other than the CMs is to help us improve as teachers, so really I see no reason to be reserved with them.  As a result of this, I feel like almost every meeting I have ends with the other party saying, “Wow you’re so reflective.”

I didn’t really see my openness as a problem until today when my behavior management coach went all Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting on me today after our debrief (video is attached, for reference).  She went out of her way after our meeting to find me, and our conversation was almost verbatim the exchange from Good Will Hunting except substitute “You will get better” for “It’s not your fault” and minus the crying.

What is funny about this is that anyone who knows me knows confidence is not and never has been an issue for me.  My confidence in my self as a person and my ability to persevere in the face of challenge and continually improve is perfectly intact.  My confidence in my abilities and skills as a teacher is pretty low, because well, my teacher skills are pretty low.

If my outlook sounds bleak or frustrating that’s because the reality of my skill set is bleak and frustrating; but my confidence and more importantly my resolve are perfectly well in tact.

Yes, it is a little frustrating that I am not having immediate success.  The only comparable experience in my life of being so bad at something that I care so much about and put so much effort into was the first two years of my college basketball career which were spent almost entirely on the bench.  Having continued through that, I am not frustrated by the effect of my inadequate performance on myself personally, because I know I will improve.

What frustrates me is that my kids are suffering as a result of my ineptitude, and that is not acceptable and never will be.

So although I want to be proud of the strides I have made thus far, and I have made some pretty important ones, I really can’t allow myself to be.

But I’m thinking in the future (after this post, of course) I will probably be a little less candid when talking about my own shortcomings because I don’t know if I could keep a straight face through another Robin Williams-esque outpouring of pity.

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