Why Bother To Be Encouraged?
I’ve noticed that when someone acknowledges my effort in whatever task I am doing—trying out a new recipe, practicing a yoga pose or performing my duties at work—my heart is emboldened and my confidence is strengthened. Encouragement from others has a way of motivating me to continue doing things well. Just recently though, I’ve discovered how self encouragement also fortifies and affirms my abilities to succeed in whatever I am doing, more specifically, in my job as a teacher.
I’ve not always trusted my abilities as a teacher. When I began my career, I inflicted more doubtful and self critical thoughts upon myself than confident and affirming ones. Too often, I compared myself with other teachers who were brighter, smarter and had more experience. Inevitably, I fell short of the standard I was striving toward—to be more like them and less like me. Such a critique was unfair, but I did it anyway.
Then there were the faultfinding parents who accused me of being too tough on their child by expecting too much from them or not being lenient enough with my standards. These parents only reinforced my internal monologue—I am not a very good teacher.
But, I did not quit being a teacher just because I, at first, doubted my potential to succeed. Somehow, I knew I had what it took to be a good teacher.
Now, with more experience, I no longer compare myself with other teachers. Instead, I glean from them, knowledge and wisdom. And as far as those fault finding parents go—there really has only been a very small number of them who have doubted my insights concerning their child. Most of the parents entrust their child with me, and in doing so, build up my confidence as that insightful teacher I always believed myself to be.
This last week ended on a very good note in my classroom. I’d been teaching division with remainders and how to prove division problems with multiplication. I’d introduced my students to the vocabulary words—dividend, divisor, quotient and remainder and the steps we take to divide—multiply, subtract and bring down. There were a handful who could do the work independently and then there were those who could not.
Creating a solution to teach those who are not grasping a concept while allowing others to move ahead independently is a dilemma all teachers face and it is what makes teaching enjoyable for me. I am always surprised with howI come up with ways to solve this daily predicament, but I do. This time, I announced that if you can work alone, then do so. If you cannot, then meet me at my table. While working with the students who needed more instruction, I looked around at my group of students. Everyone was hard at work because I’d worked hard to become the confident teacher I wanted to be.
Why bother to be encouraged? When we become less critical of ourselves, when we stop comparing ourselves to others, when our internal dialogue stops its accusations, then we will be encouraged and motivated to succeed at our tasks.