You’ll hear people say you have to learn from your mistakes as a teacher.
It all sounds very encouraging.
And yet, when you ask fellow teachers for stories about mistakes they’ve made, something changes.
The details flatten into generalizations.
I consider myself a decisive person most of the time.
Or, to use a pop psychology term, I’m a “satisficer.”
Satisficers are willing to make a choice that seems good enough and move forward with few regrets.
The alternative is being a “maximizer,” who puts tremendous thought and research into making the best decision possible.
Let’s say you have a student who pushes allllllll your buttons. The two of you have gotten into a series of power struggles throughout the year. Every time you are about to look at this kid, you feel your whole body getting ready to address the fact that he has not yet taken out a pen (again), or she has her phone out (again), or they’re—oh, I don’t know—trying to sell a pair of sneakers to a kid in the next row. Again.
Minimum Viable Product is a business term.
It’s one of many entrepreneurial concepts I wish I’d learned as a teacher.
I’m in the middle of reading Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. It’s a book about stress written by my behavioral-scientist crush, Robert Sapolsky.
For a long time, I didn’t think I needed to read this book. It seemed like the main takeaway was obvious from the title itself: Zebras live only in the present moment. Their stress levels are based on whether they’re running away from a lion.
They don’t worry about bills.
They don’t ruminate over last week’s misunderstanding with another zebra.
They don’t get teacher anxiety dreams because they just noticed Target has started selling school supplies.
And. . . that kind of is what the book is about. But the details have been worth diving into. And there are many takeaways that will be helpful to teachers on Sunday nights—or during August, which can sometimes feel like a month full of Sunday nights.