Sometimes things do not go like you want them to.
I have students present speeches all the time, and inevitably, eventually, one of them will make a mistake. How they respond is telling. Some pause for the briefest of seconds before composing themselves and moving on. Some request a do-over. Some press on, but the momentum is lost and never regained.
Some give up.
As a teacher, I try to let the students sort it out themselves. I encourage them that often the mistakes they make are known only if their posture or gestures or faces or words tell me that they messed up. Sometimes, the mistake is profound and clearly observed. I say, "So what, we all make mistakes. It is not the end of the world."
But when it is me that has made a mistake, or failed, or had a setback- do I tell myself what I tell my students?
No, I do something else. I reflect, I ponder, and sometimes I wallow. Sometimes all at once. Now, reflection is VITAL. But it must be with the intent to move forward, not obsess over the failure. In the grief training I do with teachers, I do say that yes, you need to feel the loss, but you must keep moving forward.
As I write this, I am there. I am feeling the sense of falling short, of not achieving what I had hoped. Right now, I am wallowing.
But then, I found this video. It is no secret I am huge Switchfoot fan, and have been since the early 2000's. I made their song Hope is the Anthem my theme for this year, but today, that song was hard to listen to. But the title of this talk caught my eye. Starting at around the 9:30 mark, Jon Foreman talks about how our lives are our instrument, how they require tuning and practice, and a lifetime to develop. He talks until around 12 minutes from that 9:30 part, so take a listen.
He will go on to sing Dare You to Move, one of my all time favorite songs.
Today, that is my song.
I am learning from my students, as I reflect on what I have done and could do better, this song rings in my ears. I am thinking of the student who just last semester took not one single speech seriously, and yesterday gave one of the most challenging and inspiring TED style talks I have heard. I am thinking of one student who finally found their voice, and another that is learning how to best use their voice. I am thinking of the students who have made bad choices, and are learning to make better ones. I am thinking of the students who felt crushed by a setback, and how I need to empathize with them, and today I can.
In the words of Jon Foreman, I am tuning. I am learning to listen to the room, to grow from my missed notes so that I can impact others- and myself.
I want to challenge you to think of how you are "tuned." When you hit that wrong note, what do you do? Do you power through, stop and compose, give up? As long as you do not give up, you are tuning, you are reflecting.
Today, I want to tune my life, make the needed adjustments as an educator. I am not completely happy with my song write now, so I will practice and work with it. I am not enjoying my song today, so I will listen and reflect to find a better melody.
So I ask- how are you tuning the song of your life (and classroom) today?