misfires and dry spells

I have a problem with self-perception that needs explaining in this medium, and I may not be the only one with it. #fingerscrossed

Have you ever heard the terms “misfires” or “creative dry spell”?  I’ve experienced each of them, In fact, they happen in and out of the classroom fairly frequently. I am pretty sure that it happens to everyone at some point in time. If you’re nodding your head at this, does it come with bouts of self-doubt/loathing for you too? #stuffhappens

Since it is the end of the calender year. Lists are always fun. Here are 6 things that have been on my mind for you to ponder:

  1. Be positive about your skills and know they are always evolving
  2. Stop getting in your own way. Try new things.
  3. Learn that failure can be an excellent teacher. Don’t take it personally.
  4. You can’t control anything around you except how you respond to it
  5. Things will go wrong. Sometimes this will lead to something amazing and new.
    Other times it will require a restart. Educators are natural born problem solvers.
  6. Take time to see and enjoy the big picture of your impact on the lives of learners.

Despite these moments, when nothing flows or moves forward, things manage to get accomplished in some shape or form. At times, I have little to no recollection of how, but accept that going through the highs and lows whether they are in the creative process or in teaching have allowed me still do many things despite the voices of discouragement telling me to give up or that the work is not good enough. #justkeepmoving

In past iterations of my practice, I chose to internalize my inabilities as a personal failure. That was until I accepted that failure was a natural part of the creative process and that every so called failure of mine was actually a lesson as well when looked at objectively. I found this to be quite liberating and began to look at failure without the fear that may have clouded my thinking around it from the past. #learnfromfailure

A few years back there was a poster in my classroom that read FAIL meant Frequent Attempts In Learning. It was accompanied by a Chinese proverb that read, “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” These two thoughts guided our year and ultimately helped students to value their efforts at all times in the process rather than stressing about the mark(s). It was during this time that I confronted my own demons getting in the way of my own creativity and abilities. The first thing to do was stop trying to be everything to everyone and start being myself. #confrontyourdoubts

The next was to not worry about the temporary obstacles placed in my path because they were just that, temporary. This meant learning to move around, under, over or destroying them with a lot of creativity, patience, and an occasional strategic surrender to regroup. I have become comfortable in retracing my footsteps, although it may cost a little time or necessitate starting a journey along a different path if the old one needed to be abandoned in the process. Kind of like teaching in that way isn’t it? #stickwithit

All of this got me thinking about how my “misfires and creative dry spells” might actually be good for my teaching practice. #donotmissthelearning

Teachers by nature are problem solvers. I am no different. This is one of our super powers. Yet, even with these incredible skills to adapt within everchanging spaces, we find it difficult when something goes wrong whether it was within or beyond our control. I have come to love what comes of the inevitable mistakes that occur in my classroom, and have seized upon making my mess and my mistakes a bigger part of my message as they reflect a truer version of myself as an educator. #teachingismysuperpower

I may not be able to control all of the outcomes or actors, but I can definitely control how I respond to them. Accepting that every lesson and class will not be perfect, but will still move us to someplace where we might see things more clearly or at least differently is a great place to start. #teachersashumans

We juggle and manage dozens of moments simultaneously. We are constantly prioritizing the wellbeing and needs of our learners/selves throughout each instructional day. We are adapting to variables with a depth of skill that would astound a chess champion. Teachers make real time course corrections as they navigate students through their learning. In all of this there is bound to some incredible learning occuring in each of these moments. #teachersmakethedifference

And then at the end of the day, we reflect on our reflections about the day and prepare to do it again the next.* It’s okay to nod. #reflecttogrow

Happy Gregorian Calender New Year. May 2022 be good to us all. In safety and solidarity. Thank you for reading. #gratitude

*I remember telling the dean at my faculty of education that I have become a mirror after so much reflection. She laughed.

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Updated: January 5, 2022 — 9:04 am

The Author

Will Gourley

P/J lead learner and SERT at Adrienne Clarkson PS in the YRDSB. Focused on disruptive, and divergent modern learning. Member of the global TED-Ed(Club) movement, 1 of 110 TED Ed Innovative Educators, and Global Math Project Ambassador. Twitter @willgourley Proudly blogging here and at https://escheweducationalist.wordpress.com/

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