Pep Talk: Foolish and Stupid

Maybe it's time for you to be more foolish and stupid.

Pep Talk: Foolish and Stupid
Photo by Sebastian Bill / Unsplash
"If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid." - Epictetus

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that what other people think matters. It’s better to spend time concerned with what you think about yourself. If you think that you embody perfection it’s time to reconsider.

We all have moments of foolishness and stupidity. Sometimes I’m able to put together a string of such moments in spite of my best efforts not to. The worry that comes with mistakes is wasted energy and often inhibits action.

Better to try something, fail, and then use the lesson to become better.

People will always have their opinions and there is nothing that you can do about that. Instead, remember the end goal. I can recall numerous times when I meticulously planned lessons that I thought would be extremely engaging, only to have them fall flat with my students. I’ve sent home what I thought of as great teacher/parent communication and still received complaints to the contrary.

If your goal is to be a better teacher tomorrow you need need to make your mistakes today. I think the same can be said for most professions and other aspects of life. If you're not making enough mistakes that may be a clue to step a little more out of your comfort zone.

I’ll end with a list of a few things I’ve tried that initially did not turn out well. Trust me, this list could be much longer.

  • I attempted to flip my science class. Some people can do it and it works great. It just wasn’t for me. I did however learn about some great ways to incorporate technology and use video with students.
  • I went down a layered curriculum rabbit hole. The implementation could have been better. I did add more tools to my differentiation toolbox. These tools pay off year after year.
  • I don’t know many times I’ve told jokes that received zero laughter or tried to connect with a student and it didn’t go well. I know I felt a little foolish every time it happened. As I get older, I can see how the attempt can be a message to show students you care - even if the reactions didn’t meet my expectations.

Thanks for reading. I have a goal of writing at least two pep talks per month. They’re reflective for me and I hope that by sharing, they might in some way be helpful to you.