Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teaching: Covering Content Vs. Being Content


Last night I had a huge, my-brain-might-explode, aspirin/Motrin-doesn't work, go-to-bed-early, headache.

I woke up this morning with a revelation.

I'm stressed.

About content. Defined this way:

Content
/ˈkänˌtent/
noun
The material to be covered this year in school.

I realized that content temporarily hijacked me. It felt no different than an unwelcome solicitor's phone call in the middle of reading a book to my son...or a demanding email in the middle of a conversation with my daughter.

So I stopped. And thought about something else. How to be content. Defined this way:

Content
/kənˈtent/
adjective
From Google: "in a state of peaceful happiness."

That's what I want. For my students. For me. And for learning.

Learning isn't always peaceful. It's not always happy. But in order to truly be content, I think you have to be steered by something other than content.

Used the right way, content is good. It gives you a road map. But if you miss seeing the trees along the road, miss the kids giggling in the back seat, miss the smiles of the nearby driver, the map misses it's mark.

What do you think? Have you been so busy checking boxes, checking standards, that you are checking out on what's really important? Are you content about content? :)
 

12 comments:

  1. When I saw this post, I thought maybe it was a lesson on homonyms, ha! I totally know what you mean. Even after a year teaching CCSS, I'm still trying to find a balance between keeping my students and myself content, while also teaching all the content. I'm hoping it will get better as we settle into the year.

    Danielle
    Carolina Teacher

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    1. LOL. I wish it was on homonyms...that's easier! :) I hope it will get easier, too. But meanwhile, I'm telling myself to refocus! ;)

      Thank you for posting!

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  2. SUCH good points! Very much appreciate the reminder!

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    1. Ah, thanks Quiltbug! You are always so encouraging!!! :)

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  3. Yep, I drown when I think about content (noun) ... it's endless! When I focus on a gentle, stimulating, nurturing routine with TIME to live and learn deeply, it's easier to be content (adjective) with whatever content (noun) we absorb along the way. Knowing that there is always going to be more content (noun) than we can ever master (knowledge, skills etc) can be overwhelming, but we just have to plug away at joyfully learning sufficient for each day.

    Reflecting on what we HAVE done each day is better for me than feeling guilty about what we didn't do. Both ways look the same for me on paper ... I plan possibilities in one place, then record actualities in another ... but focusing on gains rather than gaps makes all the difference to my contentment. I don't want to sacrifice depth and meaning to push through grades and subjects. I am learning to count my blessings, even when it comes to content (noun), and in doing so I am amazed at the content we end up covering above and beside the expected and planned, and how content we feel ... taking the time to explore a few things properly, rather than many things quickly forgotten.

    I like the way you said it :)

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    1. I like the way you said it better! That was beautiful. Need to reread it often... Thank you!

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    2. Thanks Cindy! I'm tempted to print this whole page to read in moments of madness (in other words fairly frequently). You are certainly not alone in this struggle!

      I have just written a way-too-lengthy blog post about fighting perfectionism in order to enjoy reality, which is usually better than an imagined but out of reach ideal. :)

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    3. Perfectionism is, indeed, a problem!!! I need to go read your post.

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  4. I know how you feel. I've been reminding myself that as long as we are productive with our time (most of the time) and we are learning something new every day, not everything needs to be "covered". I rather savor our learning experiences rather than rush through everything. So hard to do sometimes!

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    Replies
    1. So good to know I'm not alone. I'm really struggling with it... Keep telling myself to chill out.

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  5. This is the theme of a constant tug-o-war in my heart and brain!

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    1. Great way to put it... tug-o-war! ;)

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