Okay is … Okay

Oh man, you guys, I have been busy. I knew I would be when I started school full-time in September. Of course I knew. But it’s really only in the past few weeks that things have gotten real.

I’m about three quarters of the way through a month long practicum at the moment. I’m teaching in a local grade 4/5 class and I’m enjoying it a lot. I’m also finding it challenging. This is no surprise. I am learning new things, trying new things, planning and delivering lessons, gaining new skills and sometimes falling flat on my face. And through it all I am being observed and receiving feedback.

Truly, my practicum is great. Being in a classroom, teaching students, watching teachers and hearing their comments, helps me get better. There is no other way I could learn this stuff as well. But it also means I am “on” a lot of the time, both for my students and my advisors. I am not the busiest I have ever been, or the most tired. I have kids. But it’s busy and tiring and I’m feeling it.

A few weeks ago, when my practicum had just started, I attended a workshop with my fellow student teachers and practicing teachers from my district. Or, in teacher language, preservice and inservice teachers. We were talking about how we show care in schools – for our colleagues, for our students, for our communities and so on. I got a little bit overly sentimental and talked about how much care I was feeling from my advisors and my fellow student teachers who were helping me get better. How feedback, including constructive criticism, is just a way of showing caring and isn’t this lovely and yada yada yada.

okayAfter I finished, one of the practicing teachers spoke up. I can’t quote him word-for-word, but he spoke directly to the student teachers and said that we really needed to think about self care. We would have a lot coming at us, he said, and we needed to make sure that we didn’t overdo it. That our needs were getting met. That sort of thing. And then he added, “Sometimes okay is okay.”

For whatever reason, that last phrase stuck in my head. In the past two weeks when I’ve been feeling overwhelmed I’ve repeated it to myself. Okay is okay. Okay is okay. Of course I knew that already. I knew that sometimes you have to let things go. Sometimes you need to say good enough. Sometimes you need to ignore the sink full of dirty dishes and go to bed at a reasonable hour. But you know what? I needed a reminder. I didn’t know it at the time, but those were among the most important words I’ve heard since I started back at school full-time in September.

We’re heading into the holiday season, now. Luckily, I will have a decent break over Christmas so I will be able to focus more on my family and the joy of the season and all of that good stuff. But you know what? I also know from hard-fought experience that Christmas can be one more time when you have too much on your plate, and you’re overwhelmed, and busy, and putting yourself on the back burner. So, as I finish the semester and prepare to celebrate, I will repeat my new mantra. As my kids fight on the way back from picking out a Christmas tree, I will repeat my new mantra. As we rush hither and yon, from one family dinner to another, I will repeat my mantra. Okay is okay.

Because you know what? It really is.

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  1. Thank you so much for this reminder that ok is ok. I have 19 years teaching experience and I seem to forget this all the time. I have been beating myself up when I reflect upon my day / week / month. I seem to only see the “should haves” both at home and school, and how I am not meeting the needs of those who rely upon me. But you are right, my floordrobe is ok (at least the clothes are clean). My lesson flop is ok (there’s always tomorrow to get another chance).

    I did a lesson today on changing our mindsets from “stinky thoughts” to “power thoughts” and I had to confess to the students that I have been engaging in a lot of stinky thoughts lately. I think I need to model changing my own mindset.
    Christy’s last post … Upcycled Crafts With JeansMy Profile

  2. And glad to hear your practicum is going well! So exciting.
    Christy’s last post … Upcycled Crafts With JeansMy Profile

  3. One of the things that most impresses me about teachers is that they are “on” so much of the workday. Compared to a typical office worker, or even to a retail worker or firefighter who has some lulls in between the busy times, I think a teacher has a difficult job! I’m glad your practicum is going well.
    Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook’s last post … Book Reviews and Giveaway!My Profile

    • Thanks for the kind words! It definitely is an adjustment, being in an elementary school classroom. I love it, but it’s a far different kind of day than when I worked in an office, that’s for sure.

  4. Thank you for the reminder! In college we had a saying (about the papers we stayed up late writing), “Perfect is good, but done is better.” And now I doubt that perfect is any good at all. OK is just fine!

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