Sunday, August 5, 2012

Learning to be a Role Model

One of the things I really try to instill in my students is self-confidence. I want them to feel as though they have the ability to try anything they want to and are capable of achieving anything under the stars. I also want them to know that failing or not meeting your goal may not be the best feeling, but it's part of life and part of learning and growing. They are not bad things.

The funny thing is that the last part there is something I struggle with terribly myself.

Well, I should clarify that. In terms of writing here or trying new things in my classroom, I'm not so afraid of failing or not meeting my goals. If nobody reads my blog posts, it's okay. My writing is more for my personal reflection, and if people want to join in and get something out of it that's just an added bonus. But there are no goals for number of hits or no sadness if I don't get comments. It just is what it is. And in my classroom with my kids, we try and fail all the time. The kids very quickly get used to me saying, "Well THAT didn't work! What do you guys think we should have done differently?" My students learn that mistakes or activities not working out are just opportunities to learn and think about a situation in a different way. It teachers us to problem solve and be flexible. And we often have some fun along the way.

It's almost like I am two different people - the teacher, writer, connected educator in me understands that things won't always work out. But in my personal life the me that is trying to get healthier doesn't quite get that. That me isn't very self-confident, and she still hasn't learned that trying and coming up short is better than not trying at all.

Teacher Me will have the chance to try something new with my class, whether is a program or a piece of technology, and she will say, "WOO HOOO!! Let's do this and see what happens!"

Personal Me will be faced with the opportunity to try a new exercise that looks challenging and she will say, "That looks cool, but I could never do it. No thanks."

Teacher Me will try a lesson, have it bomb, and say, "Hahahaha - well we're going to have to try that differently tomorrow!"

Personal Me will try a new exercise, not do so well at it and say, "Ugh. I knew I shouldn't have even tried. I'm not doing that again."

Teacher Me will set goals for personal learning or student growth. We may reach our goals or not, but we celebrate how far we have come and the growth we have made.

Personal Me will set a goal and get frustrated when it's not met. And when others try to show her how far she has come, her response typically starts with, "Yeah but...." and ends with something that negates the growth she has made.

Teacher Me tries to be positive no matter what and perseveres.

Personal Me tends to be more negative and gives lots of excuses.

It's hard to admit that there are two different sides of me, but there it is. Out in the open. I can't hide or make excuses any more. If I really want to be a good role model for my students, then I need to believe and live positively, without fear of failure, and embracing challenges in all parts of my life.

So, my first challenge is coming up next Saturday. I signed up for an event that was billed as a 4+ mile run and then a few miles of kayaking down the river. Being the novice runner that I am I knew the run part would be a challenge, but I thought I could do it. I've been practicing and was able to run from what I thought was the start to the finish!! And then I found out the actual route for the run. And discovered that what I thought 4+ meant (a little over 4) is actually going to be a little over 4.8! Eek! Personal Me immediately started screaming, "YOU CAN'T DO THIS! IT'S TOO FAR!! YOU NEED TO BACK OUT!!" As a matter of fact, she's still screaming right now.

But I'm going to try. I know that my original goal of running the whole thing will not happen, but I keep telling myself that it will be okay (and really, it will) if I have to walk some of it. I'm nervous. I'm scared. I'm worried that I'm going to be last and people will laugh at me. I'm not sure how to not feel that way. But I am sure that if I'm going to expect my kids to be risk takers, then I need to do the same. And this is the perfect way to start.


Lani said...

No, you don't know this--
" I know that my original goal of running the whole thing will not happen,"

You haven't tried yet--

I'm thinking the little engine that could has a story in his chugging for you--

Ask your teacher me what if one of my students said that--

Set up yourself up for success-- visualize yourself finishing--

And I'll be here to learn what happened and celebrate with you the outcome!

Becky Bair said...

Well said as always, Lani! Perhaps it is time to go find a copy of The Little Engine... maybe my mom still has mine!

All of those are things that my rational brain understands, but my emotional side sometimes takes over. But I am going to try all of these, and I'm looking forward to sharing the results, and maybe even some pictures, next Saturday.

takefive said...

I have no wise words because I face the challenge about which you're speaking every day when I go to CrossFit. I always catch myself thinking, I can't do this. It's too hard.

But there is someone who writes about the whole psyche of a CrossFitter and I think her words are what I believe about your race.

What we think, we become.

Sounds simplistic. It is simplistic. But it’s true.

Think of yourself as weak, you become weak. Think of yourself as an asshole, you become an asshole. Think of yourself as a frumpy mom, you become a frumpy mom. (Well, that might not work for guys.) Think of yourself as a victim, you become a victim.

Screw that. Think of yourself as something more. A weightlifter. An athlete. A good runner. A fast rope climber. A gentleman. An awesome lover. A great mom. A hero to somebody, even if it’s just Fluffy or Mr. Kettlebell (your dog — please don’t name your child Mr. Kettlebell). One hotfabulousamazingstrongsmartkindkick-a person.

Think of your life as a giant, flaming success and become that success. Even if you think you’re already on top of the world, reach for more. Our lives begin to end when we stop striving.

Change your thoughts, change your life. Change your socks. Make sure you’re wearing clean underwear. Always say “please” and “thank you.” (Okay, somebody silence my inner mom now.)

So I try and think of myself as some crazied, strong athlete. I try to overcome the fear that makes me cry when I have to do something where I'm worried I'll get hurt. And it does get better.

Honestly Becky....who gives a hoot if you walk. Finish and believe you're that monster athlete who can do it all.

Becky Bair said...


Thank you so much for your amazing comment! You're not saying anything I don't know, but I think this is one of those lessons I need to keep hearing over and over before it sinks in!

I am so thankful to have both you and Lani in my circle of friends!