We have all had that moment in school. You prepped for a test all week, you thought your study tactics were undeniable. You walked into the class, took the test (maybe a little faster than you should have) and you walk out feeling like you had just jumped out of an airplane.
You turn to your friend who is also walking out and say, "I aced that one, no problem".
Fast forward one week later when the scores are posted online and that big D- sits next to your "aced" test. All that feeling of euphoria of not having to study, of leaving the assessment confident of your abilities turns into a mash pit of butterflies in your stomach as you start to breakdown the weights and percentages to determine if you are going to be able to pass the course all together.
The first thought... I'm a failure.
As educators, we can have those moments as well. We spend time crafitng the perfect lesson plan like a Michaelangeo delacatly chiseling away at a stone carving. Knowing it's perfect, we begin the lesson and within 2 minutes of starting, the statue has cracked and fallen into dust.
We are all rough drafts.
Bob Goff writes in his book Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World of Setbacks and Difficult People:
"We are all rough drafts of the people we are becoming"
As I consider the beginning of the school year: the excitement of new students, the new (or semi-new) supplies, the re-energized ideas of what the class will look like this year, I have to remind myself that I am a rough draft as well.
Being a rough draft means that you are not finished. You probably have some red lines on you with some spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and idea contradiction.
Some might see this as a disadvantage. Not being a "final draft" of yourself for your students means you are unprepared, unaware, or even caught off guard for the school year.
However being a rough draft gives you FREEDOM
Freedom to try new things, freedom to make mistakes, freedom to fail forward, knowing those experience will make you a more improved you.
There are stories that float around the web about teachers who offer students their class without grades.
"If you come into class, work hard, and do the best you can, you will pass my class". I have always been intrigued by this concept because I think the one area my students struggle with is the grades.
That is why I love project based learning. Letting students design, iterate, and grow in their project as they are discovering new ideas and passions. Rubrics become more difficult, expectations and end results are messy, but the learning is organic and the students are able to embody what it means to be a true rough draft.
I guess the big question for you teacher is this...are you setting up your room for a group of rough drafts? Or are you expecting a bunch of final drafts every day?
As we embark on this new school year, remember we are all rough drafts.
Being a rough draft means there is room to fail. Room to grow. Room to change who you are to something greater. When you consider yourself a rough draft, you take criticism with a smile and know that you are willing to hear ideas of improvement. You try and try again.
Your presentations won't be perfect always.
Your lessons you teach will sometimes flame out.
Your conversation will not go the way you thought it would.
If you know that you are always unfinished, then you know you have an innate, uncontrollable ability to grow. This you today is the best you. Tomorrow will be better because you will improve from today.
Consider today a day where you embrace your full rough draft and focus not on what is wrong, but simply where you are going to grow.
Here comes the year, let's rock it!
Taylor currently serves as a Coordinator of Innovative Learning for a mid-sized school district in Texas. He is a speaker, writer, and coach for all who are in conflict with the status quo.