The 'Best' Right Things aka "The Day After Perfect"

There are other posts I want to write but I can't do anything until I get this one out of my brain.

I've already posted about this quote a couple of times:

"Be brave enough to be bad at something new." It's from a motivational speaker, author, and entrepreneur Jon Acuff that I subscribe to. He's coming out with a new book called "Finish" and he released the first chapter. Everything in quotation marks in this post comes from that chapter.

I was reading it and re-reading it at the same time because it goes right along with the TMC-hangover we all deal with in some measure...the fact that we can't do everything.

We hear so many good ideas that we aren't doing that we forget about all the good ideas that we are doing.

And then we go home feeling like these other teachers are awesome all the time and we are awesome never. We start to make plans feeling like we need to shove every new idea into every inch of our lesson plans. If not...we're not doing the best thing for our kids. Right?
"The first lie perfectionism tells you about goals: Quit if it isn't perfect."
Well guess what? It's not going to be perfect. It's never going to be perfect. You aren't going to be perfect. Ever. Now that we have that out of the way, there is nothing to be afraid of! The door to better teaching is forever open to you!
"We will gladly give up the whole thing when we discover some error or imperfection in our performance."
We make posters about how important mistakes are for learning and growing but then we beat ourselves up for our own mistakes. We talk ourselves out of trying something new because making a mistake might....embarrass us? Scar the children forever? Make us lose control?
"Doing something imperfectly won't kill you."
It won't kill anybody expect that spirit of perfection that tries to keep you complacent. If you aren't growing....are you dying?

I live in farm country so I guess that explains why I keep comparing teaching to farming. Do farmers plant the same plant in the same ground forever? Or do they take breaks so the land can recover? Do they try new strains? Do they try new fertilizer? Do they try new technology?

At the end of the day they are still planting seeds and reaping a harvest as new tools come and go.

But here's the thing maybe we forget...every farmer starts with different soils. Different climates. Different weather patterns. Different seed batches. Different talents. Different pests. Different equipment. Each farmer has a learning curve and has a wide variety of areas to grow in. How does he decide which area to work on? Well, there's too many variables so he better try one thing and never change it forever.

Since when has too many variables stopped a math teacher?

It's important that we recognize how we are all starting with different soils- a different foundation. My foundation is building relationship with students. I'm really good at and it comes naturally- it's hard to even explain things that I do that make it happen. So when I am reaching for new tools, I'm reaching for things that fix my pacing, my curriculum, my rigor, etc because those are the areas where I need growth.
"The problem is that perfectionism magnifies your mistakes and minimizes your progress."
Twitter and blogs can put a magnifying glass on our mistakes because we see such a plethora of new ideas. But turn that magnifying glass on to your craft and your progress. Where do you see gaps? Where do you see low performance? Now when you look at new tools, use that magnifying glass to direct your focus. Pick the tools that are going to make the biggest difference for YOUR SOIL.

And realize that everyone needs different tools for different seasons.
"The harder you try to be perfect, the less likely you'll accomplish your goals."
If your goal is to be the best teacher you can be or to make a difference....you're not going to accomplish them perfectly. Do you even know what perfect would look like it? And if you let perfect scare you, then you aren't going to accomplish them at all. 

You are doing the right things. You are scared you aren't doing the 'best' right things. But if you are honest with yourself about your progress and trying new tools to fix problems, that's always going to be the 'best' right thing. And the energizing part is that there will always be a new problem to fix and a new tool to try. You will never run out of data to analyze or classes to experiment with.

Welcome to a lifetime of growing!! You're officially a farmer.
"The day after perfect is what separates finishers from starters."
So the day after perfect fails...when you screamed at a kid, when you said something inappropriate, when a lesson flops, when the whole class fails a test, will you give up forever? Does a farmer who makes a mistake go back and rip out every seed he's planted? I don't think there's a perfect harvest but there will always be hungry people willing to eat. And there will always be curious students who are willing to learn. They won't be perfect and you won't be perfect but together you will make things grow.
"The opposite of perfectionism is not failure- it's finished."


Year 9

My room just keeps getting better and better. I really can't imagine anything I would change but I've thought that every year before this too.

There's just something about it right now that I feel like really reflects me. Or maybe I'm just more me when I'm in here.

This quote says Be brave with your life. 

I will forever love my Milligram bulletin board. It is my actual school account.

Having a little light and air freshener is really important to me.

That Poppins desk set is SO worth it.

Using powder drink holders as pen caddy's-covered the bottom with duck tape and will hand these out when needed since they were all stolen last year.

 Filing cabinet makeover with spray paint and contact paper.

 My clearance TJ Maxx clock and Oriental trading pennant banner.

My $.25 yard sale box that hold my 18 privacy folders {blog post to come}.

Replace green chevron border with gray from Hobby Lobby {$3.99 or $2.39 with coupon}

Replaced blue and green paper lanterns with turquoise chevron paper lanterns.

Chevron folders for each period in my hanging file holder for absent students.

Baby trash cans from Dollar Tree and custom laminated drawer labels.

All ten drawers!

The top of these carts have holes in them and students love to put tape over the holes and then stab it which makes it impossible to take the tape off. This year I laminated two 8.5x11 scrapbook papers and hot glued the corners down. 

...for individual pencil holders made of smoothie straws and duck tape.

My no-sew chevron intruder curtain made with paperclips and binder clips that unrolls with a pull of a ribbon...teal ribbon of course.

And one of my new favorite quotes:

"Be brave enough to be bad at something new."
-Jon Acuff

I didn't realize how being brave kept showing up as a theme in my classroom until people at TMC and on Twitter have mentioned it. 

I don't think it is bravery when you have no other choice.


2017-2018 New Year's Resolutions

This week's prompt is Goals; click the picture above for more information on this weekly blogging challenge.

My mantra for the year is: add layers of new to the foundation you love!


  • Incorporate #VNPS once per unit
  • Incorporate a debate prompt of some sort once per unit
  • Upgrade interactive notebook pages whenever possible to be succinct and easy to follow independently
  • Make better use of Google Classroom
  • Bring back concept attainment, my favorite way to teach!
  • Amplify voices in the #MTBoS, even when my voice seems silent

  • Keep doing the daily workouts I've been somewhat enjoying this summer
  • Save money ahead of time for things like birthday and Christmas...they aren't surprises
  • Keep my magic sparkles fueled on a daily basis!

Professionally and Personally
  • Sprinkle my #MTBoS magic wherever I go while doing my best to see and bring out the magic in others

While I have felt a huge burst of confidence professionally in the past weeks, I've been working on it personally for years. Some changes I've made recently and will continue to do:
  • Daily scripture journaling
  • The only Bible reading plan I've ever stuck with
  • Walking 12,000+ steps a day
  • Having everything ready to go for the next morning before I leave school
  • Lesson planning on Saturdays to free up my weeknights
  • Keeping the Sabbath (Sundays for me)..."A Sunday well spent brings a week of content"
  • Laying out my clothes/accessories/shoes and packing my lunch/bag the night before 
Happy New Year!


Clothesline Mathematicians

If you haven't heard of Clothesline Math, it's a concrete way of building number sense by hanging numbers on a literal clothesline, and it can apply from elementary all the way up.

I went to one short session on it at TMC and saw solving equations, fractions, logarithms, geometry problems and more.

I'm still not confident in using it myself but I did use it once last year and never blogged about it.

I made pieces of characteristics of mathematicians and had them put the pieces in order on a clothesline.


Of course this went differently in each class and doesn't have a correct answer. I would say that they started with what I expected like getting answers quickly but through their own discussion started to move things around and highlight the things I don't want...copying others, sitting silently, and watching others do math.

My favorite part was just them explaining why they thought things should be moved aka why they think certain characteristics make a good mathematician. 

That's My #MTBoS

In an effort to show gratitude, on Wednesday night we, the #MTBoS, were encouraged to shout out people we were thankful for.

I've been on Twitter since 2009 and these people literally created and continue to shape who I am as a teacher.


Twenty-five different people who have affected my teaching. Some who knew it, some who didn't.

You don't even know all of the things you need to know yet.

You don't know the people you need yet.

So whatever excuses you have...be selfish for a minute. You need these people. You need to grow in ways you don't know. You need to get to places you can't get to on your own.

I  'praised' 25 people and got 9 responses. But that makes sense to me because I have been taking from these people for almost a decade- so I have the most to give. Sow before you reap. Give first. Whether that is in the form of asking questions, writing blog posts, liking tweets, etc.

You are worth the investment.

Show up. Shout out. Participate. Give. Steal.

If you have any interest in improving your craft, in being more than you are, in having a renewed energy for your profession, you are in. You belong.

You are needed.

You are necessary.

And I am grateful for you...because neither of us know right now how we will change each other.

And if I could explain #MTBoS and the #TMC experience and blogging and community...I couldn't. But luckily, someone else did a pretty good job.

That's my #MTBoS.