Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HELP!!! I don't want to drown!!

Do you ever feel like that....afraid you might drown?  All these great ideas swirling around in your head and you have no idea where to start. 

I am lucky enough to host chapter 17, Where Do I Start, and Dave Burgess talks about just that.  Where do you begin?  Why do you feel like you are walking the plank?  If you just jump in, the water is fine and you will learn to swim...seriously you will not drown.  Aaaargh, You ARE a Pirate after all.

When I first knew I was going to blog about this chapter....before I read the chapter and I only knew the title, lots and lots went through my head.  

Every chapter I read got me thinking about starting.  Just like when we teach our students I knew I needed to start from where I was.  I needed to look at my own teaching and was there anything I was already doing that was pirate like....I started writing in my notebook (happily I thought of a few right off the bat). 

Then, is there anything I can easily add? (I thought of a few more)

And lastly I was asking myself, What really needs fixed? (Plenty....I need to keep asking myself all 170 "Captain Hook" questions as I prepare my lessons and keep a notebook handy)

THEN I read the chapter and realized that this wasn't about doing....but was about what is holding us back from doing.  It is about overcoming our fears.  So True!!  I always have good intentions.  But talk is cheap and why don't I do more of what I talk about doing?  FEAR!

Dave Burgess says, "taking the first step is often the hardest part of the journey".  I love to go repelling.  But the absolute hardest part every time is taking that first step backwards off the mountain.  I know it will be fun.  I have checked my ropes and I know they are secure.  I trust my belayer, but I am scared to death until I just step, once, then twice....now I am having fun!

I procrastinate a lot.   A lot!  I read once that perfectionists do that.  Their fear of failure keeps them from doing.  That I think is me.  Dave talks about four excuses people use for not being the great teacher they really want to be. 

First, I like to call the all or nothing....if I am not perfect I have failed.  Dave calls it Fear of Failure.  So what if you fail, at least you know something not to try.  So what if not every student is engaged, at least more are engaged than would have been if you had not tried.  Teaching, and life, does not have to be an all or nothing game.

Second, is You Have to Figure It All Out Before You Begin.  This is my, "If you wait until it's perfect....you will never get started".  I like when Dave says, "Nobody is going to die if we experiment in the classroom and it doesn't work out."  Just come back the next day and try again, your students will be better off than if you were standing still.

Third, ties all my excuses together, Perfectionism.  For me this is big.  If I am not 100% perfect, I don't start.  I will wait until I have it all figured out.  I bounce from this thing to that trying to find the one that is perfect.  Dave says, and this must become my mantra...."You can either talk about all the great things you are going to do or you can actually do them."

Fourth, Focus.  We need to be careful about keeping ourselves busy and over-scheduled.  Just like in the chapter where we learned that everything is a choice, we are reminded that any time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.  Pirates need to stay focused on that which is most important.  Like Stephen Covey tells us, we need to fill our jar with the big things first. 

 Last is Fear of Criticism or Ridicule.  I love when Dave says, "You can fear it all you want....it's still coming."   I always told my Cub Scouters at trainings that you can't be a good Cubmaster if you are afraid to make a fool out of yourself.  In scouting, while I am singing, or performing I don't mind being silly or foolish, but in the classroom I don't want parents, administration, or other teachers thinking I am a fool,  For that reason I often play it safe. 

Nike says...Just Do It!  Dave Burgess says...When in doubt, take action!  He reminds us that, "the best way to overcome fear is to take action.  The more action you take and the quicker you take it the better."  I know that when I am afraid of doing something (like making a phone call, I hate making phone calls of any kind)....when I finally take a deep breath and just start dialing it is never as bad as I imagined it to be.  I just need to learn to take that breath quicker. 

Whether we are stepping backwards off a cliff or walking the plank, it is best to just JUMP in and DO it.  Take a deep breath and begin.  Rip that bandage off all at once, quickly.  The water is fine once you get in.  Pirates can learn to swim!


  1. Love your post Teri. I've channeled my perfectionism into a crazy OCDness about how my room looks and how bulletin boards looks and how laminate is cut. I am forever a list maker trying to make sure I've covered everything! We can do it girl!

    Rowdy in First Grade

    1. We can do it! I just need to take my own advice. Make a list and then get started. Isn't it funny how OCD we can be. I am the same way about laminating. I rarely let anyone else cut mine out.

  2. Great post! I am known for jumping in, sometimes head over heels, when I am excited about something. I'm not afraid to try. However, I do not like criticism. Luckily, my little first graders don't criticize, they just love!
    My Heart Belongs in First
    Live Love Lockets

    1. I will jump right in if I don't think about it too much. Too much thinking and I get nervous. Being excited about something doesn't leave us time to think too much, does it? Isn't it wonderful how loving and forgiving little ones can be! They do make our jobs worthwhile.