Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Slice of LIfe - Better than Yesterday

Last week on Portable Teacher, Lea Ann wrote a post about a comparison of running and creating curriculum calendars.  Her running trainer from Camp Gladiator sent her a photo with a quote:  "It's not about being the best.  It's about being better than you were yesterday.

This quote came to life several times this past week.

We received DIBELS scores which of course reminded my of the post from Two Years and Finishing Strong.  When I think about the kids with the "red dots,"  I know I need to remind them that it is not about being the best reader in our classroom, but about being better than you were yesterday.  So many of them are aware that they struggle with reading, but become embarrassed because of the books they are reading or because they go to the resource room. They just want to be like the others who are reading at grade level.  But it is about the small gains they make from reading every day and working hard to improve, not about being the best.

I am a mentor teacher to a new teacher in our grade level.  He was all excited today because he was going to start his small groups in reading.  He had everything ready to go - plans made, groups formed, and books chosen,
                              ...and things
                                     ...did not go
                                               ...as planned.

By the end of the day he was very disappointed, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

He told me

  • they got started late because of our school morning meeting
  • things took longer than he expected
  • the kids didn't stay focused on the task at hand
  • they were late for lunch
  • there were behavior problems

I told him, welcome to teaching, where things don't always go as planned.  I tried to use this quote as advice to make him see that this was just the first day.  It wasn't about being the best day, but learning from what went wrong, and making sure that tomorrow was better.

Last night we received our state standardized test results.  If you live in Indiana, then your know what a fiasco this has been.  Our school's results, as well as my own, were quite good.  But being the self-critic that I am, I looked at the fifth grade math scores and compared his to mine.  A conversation I had with my principal last year about this teacher immediately came to mind.  The gist was that "He gets results."

In my mind I added ..."but you don't."  That self-doubt came bubbling up and poured out today.  I questioned what and how I did things last year.  How could I have done things differently to get better results?

I had to give myself the advice I have been giving others...

It's not about being the best, but about being better today than yesterday.

So, tomorrow I will continue to build relationships with students and colleagues, work hard, have a positive attitude, and continue to make today better than yesterday.


  1. Continue to soldier on engaging your students. Cultivate those relationships and everything else will come in due time.

  2. Words we all need to live by. Do the best with what you know and learn from doing.

  3. It's the same thing we tell our students!

  4. These are words perfect for everyone. Thank you for writing this.

  5. Perfect words. I think the phrase will go up on my wall tomorrow!

  6. Very good advice. There is always someone better; you need to be the best you you can be.

  7. Good advice. Sometimes hard to follow when the critics in our heads take over.