June 16, 2005

F in Failure

Okay, I admit it. I'm failing failure. I am morose, depressed, blue, groaning under the weight of knowing I did not meet my own expectations in terms of teaching.

Failure isn't so bad. Failing is information on what one doesn't know, what one needs to learn. Failure can help direct your life or learning the way it should go.

If you allow it to work for you. If you see where you went wrong, why you went that way and how to avoid that trap in the future.

I had such high hopes when I started. I thought I could really achieve something, help these wonderful children onto the road to reading and writing and speaking.

I didn't really make much progress...a bit, maybe, but I inspired no long lasting love of the language, no drive to master and go further in their learning. A few hits, a lot of misses and what went wrong?

I know part of it is I could have been less than a wimp. I really don't like people being unhappy; I have this great need to please, and sometimes that's not the direction that is the most effective. I have to fight myself not to say "yes" and not to try and make someone happy.

I don't have a high degree of self-confidence. Okay, truth here; my self confidence is approaching zero. You've heard of the guy who could sell ice to an Eskimo? I'd have a hard time selling it to someone living on the Equator during the height of summer, during a heat wave. "Here's some ice. Well, you probably don't really want it. I really do understand, I'm sure you've developed a better way to beat the heat than ice. No, no it's okay. I can't take your money. Here, have it as a gift."

Nah, you definitely don't want me on your sales team. Maybe the other guys sale team, but not yours.

And what is teaching but selling? Selling knowledge, to the highest bidder, not for money, but for effort and determination.

So how do I become a better sales person? How do I either learn to sell what I have, and I think I do have something of myself to give, or to find a place where what I have is wanted, and I can just release myself to the work?

Posted by Rachel Ann at June 16, 2005 11:00 AM

What brought this on? But what measure do you judge yourself? I doubt that you have failed, but rather that you have not reached your lofty expectations of yourself. You never will--that's what makes us better, the constant striving.

Posted by: susan at June 16, 2005 01:04 PM

I'm with Susan. It's the striving to be better that probably makes you a great teacher! If you thought you were great, you probably wouldn't try hard. Finding a way to make kids realize they need to know what you're teaching isn't easy.

My oldest sister is a teacher, and she faces that all the time. It's been hard for her. She is your classic over-achiever. She did fantastic in college, terrific in grad school, as a trader on Wall Street for a decade... but this past year teaching (she burnt out on Wall St about 7 years ago) had her questioning everything about herself. It was horrible to watch. But she has now transferred schools to one that will hopefully treat her with a lot more respect, teaching a subject the kids actually want to know -- money management. So long story longer, things can turn around! Hang in there, cause I'm sure these kids need you.

Posted by: esther at June 16, 2005 06:29 PM

Maybe . . . maybe it really isn't about selling.

Maybe it's about arson . . . finding ways to set the kids on fire, and make them burn for it.

Which means finding an application for that knowledge that brings a wave of experiential density crashing down on the relatively boring business of learning.

And I agree with Susan -- you may not have met your standards for yourself, but that by no means qualifies you as a failure.

My sister-in-law teaches, and if she has one or two students who appreciate what they are learning over the course of a year she is happy. Very happy.

Don't let it get to you . . .

Posted by: Anne at June 17, 2005 06:28 AM
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