Almost two years ago while sitting in a hotel conference room in Novato, California while attending the Buck Institute for Education annual Spring Summit for its National Faculty, Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz shared a comment that helped me redefine the storyline of my teaching career.
He was speaking about equity. About how we as educators must view our students with a sense of compassion and understanding for their unique backgrounds. We have to be aware of our privilege and education and upbringings as we interact with students who may have had a set of life experiences very different from our own.
And then those magical words. "It's not about what's wrong, but what's missing. It's not about improving, but growing."
As a teacher, I-like many others with whom I've spoken-am my own worst critic. I have spent years focusing on what I struggle with or fail at. Yet I've always viewed my students' mistakes or failures as part of learning.
I'm not the type of teacher who gets angry because a kid "doesn't get it." I've known some teachers who operate that way.
"I told them and showed them, and we've done it so many times and they still don't get it!" they'll share with me. At which point, I might-depending on the time and place-offer some probing questions to see if we might drill down into why that is.
Ultimately, I've reframed how I view my work. It's not about what I'm doing wrong anymore. It's about adding the elements that are missing so I can be more successful, impactful, engaging, reflecting, or whatever else I need.
And it's not just about improving as a teacher or husband or dad. I constantly remind myself there are things I am good at. A lot of things. When I find life or work feels like it's bogging down, I try to think about what I need to grow and be a better version of me.
Check out Dr. JuanCarlos and his Education, Excellence, and Equity work. I hope you find something for yourself that moves you to grow or add a piece that might have been missing.