T.O.T.Week: perfectionism (ick)

How to spot the seasoned teacher from the second year teacher: a tip none of you asked for, but I will provide anyway. My fourth graders were happily engaged in some work on their Chromebooks, where they practice their touch typing. One student made a comment about how she was still finding it difficult to look at the screen and not at the letters on the keyboard. Off-handedly, I chirped out, “Well, practice makes perfect. Give it time. You’ll get there.” It was encouraging, it was kind..check! Well, the student commented, “I don’t really like that comment though. Ms. M says practice makes progress. Perfect is dumb.”

Ms. M teaches kindergarten, and is coming up on her twentieth year of teaching. She’s way past the ‘be all you can be’ signs from Learning Center – this woman is coming up with her own trademark phrases! While my comment was by no means disparaging or wrong, it was such an important reminder about the messages we provide to young folks even with a flyaway comment. I emailed Ms. M almost immediately to let her know the impact that these words have had on this child four years after being in her presence… and to also ask if I could copyright that phrase from here to eternity please. The books on today’s list examine that nagging feeling that if it’s not done right, it can’t be done at all – and why that type of thinking can send the wrong message to anyone, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves.

PS – Shout out to all the fantastic second year teachers. Go out there and make progress.

The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (picture book)

The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy (middle grade novel)

Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia (YA book)

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by BrenĂ© Brown (adult book)

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