I am a fan of “The Biggest Loser,” the reality-television show which rewards one person with the biggest weight loss after undergoing 12 intensive weeks of healthy eating and strenuous workouts with trainers. While viewing the season finale this week, I was struck by a passionate testimony from Alex, who had reached an emotional breakthrough which positively impacted her weight loss journey. After getting up on the scale and finding out that she had lost more weight than expected, she tearfully shared with the contestants and trainers, “My best is finally good enough.”
That simple yet profound statement remained with me through the rest of the evening, and I began to relate to it as an educator. I feel like I can do my very best…. hourly with a student’s behavior, weekly with a small group’s progress, quarterly with summative assessments, annually with statewide standardized assessments……. but it is not good enough. There is always someone who wants to see more data growth, feel more rigor in the lesson, hear more student engagement. Is that a bad thing?? No! I thrive on challenges, and it’s good for me to have new goals to work toward after achieving the current goal. But sometimes the sense of satisfaction of doing my best should just be savored and enjoyed, celebrated and respected! Quite honestly I feel that the steady increase of 21st century teachers leaving the field of education can be contributed to this— our best is not good enough. It is physically exhausting, mentally frustrating, and emotionally draining.
Maybe it’s time to determine the success of educators based on the premise “The Biggest Loser.” What should we be losing in education to determine our achievement?
1. The Achievement Gap—our nation needs to decrease the gap of educational success in our diverse minority groups. Labels and biases need to be removed, rigorous instruction must be carefully planned to meet the diverse needs of students, and expectations should be challenging to all.
2. The Confidence Gap—students need to decrease their lack of confidence!! What’s causing students to feel less likely to succeed in school? The high-stakes standardized assessments cause so much stress for all children, even the primary students. How do we ensure children feel successful in school?
3. The Parent Gap—where are the parents?? I think it’s time that some parents need a stern lecture about active involvement in their child’s life. No more politically-correct conversations at Parent-Teacher conferences!! Parents are spoiled by the technology of 21st century, and the smartphones need to be turned off so the children have the floor!!
Teachers do need to feel that their best is good enough. We need to actively seek and cherish those moments in the classroom which deserve a little happy dance, pat on the back, and smile on your face. Treasure those moments, and remember those joyful memories when the times get tough again. They will keep us going.
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