Jul 21, 2009


It seems to me that our culture holds up this ideal of excellence, but then we are constantly told that the ideal is not for us to reach, it is for others. How many times have you heard somebody say, "I don't want to be a saint." Why not? Why can't we reach for the stars?

I felt this when I was applying to my last teaching position, it was at a school for gifted and talented students. I was asked during the interview process if I were gifted and talented. Rather than simply saying "Yes" I hemmed and hawed and tried to find a politically correct answer. It's ok for our students to be gifted, but it's pride if we claim the same ourselves.

Last week I was at a Fluency Fast teacher training seminar in Denver. The goal of the training is to actually be able to teach for Fluency Fast. When I applied, I thought for sure that I was not qualified at all. I was surrounded by people I have been looking up to for years. And, I was awful. The first day I bombed completely. I got in 9 repetitions of a verb, when the goal is closer to 30. Ouch. On Wednesday evening, I went to an immersion dinner with the Spanish students. I spoke with the owner of the company. She said that she always hires teachers who are better than she is, because she wants the best. Duh. On Thursday I told one of the coaches that I couldn't understand why I was so nervous. "In my classroom," I said, "I am an excellent teacher." It was the first time I can remember articulating that sentiment quite so clearly. And I didn't mean it pridefully, just truthfully. I am an excellent teacher. It was so liberating to say that and to realize I believe it. I kicked butt on Friday. What a shame I had to spend the whole week scared of being too good, thinking I couldn't possibly compete.

I had a conversation with another teacher later on Thursday about the role of the teacher. He said that it isn't about the teacher. It's about the kids. The teacher should basically disappear in the classroom. And, he's right to an extent. It is about the kids. The kids are the most amazing people in that room. But if I don't start with the knowledge that I am excellent, than I am not going to reach excellence, and neither will my students.

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