Wild Card Wednesday: Not lazy, just scared/No one but you is in charge of your choices

Not lazy, just scared…

I was just about to qualify that sentence.

Explain why I’m not lazy.

I’m definitely not lazy, far from it.

But I have a hard time chilling out.

Relaxing. Just sitting. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

I wish I could relax more, but that’s hard for me. The messages I got as a young person were that any kind of inaction, idle in any way, somehow meant a kind of major character flaw. This kind of stuff isn’t overt. And it doesn’t mean that your parents, ancestors, friends, society are bad. I’m not calling people out for being jerks. It’s just how I perceived the message.

In addition to feeling like being still meant bad, I have a massive perfectionism problem. I will procrastinate and not do something for months and years if I don’t think I am doing a good job. If I perceive myself as having messed up in any way, I will go a looooong time not finishing something because if I already messed up then I can’t possibly do a good job now. And then three months later, oh no, now it’s worse. I can’t possibly do it now. It’s been even loooonnnngger now. I failed got 6 points below passing the CBEST test in 1996 for getting into a teaching program. It took me TEN YEARS to get up the courage to do it again. And I didn’t pass a few more times. But I just kept studying and dealing with how hard standardized and timed tests are for me. I just kept working at it. And then I mastered that problem.

Tonight I’m feeling a tiny piece of success as well. I have had a few tasks I have not been getting done like they need to get done at school, and today I just bravely put it out there that yeah, I have dropped the ball. Blew it. Yep. I should have had it done, it was my responsibility. I made a mistake. And while I was saying that, I was also completing some of this stuff. And that felt like a miracle. I’m still behind and have a lot to do, but it felt good to just say, “yes. It’s my responsibilty, and I didn’t do what I should have done in the timeline I should have. But I’m on it now.”

I wore a Saloon shirt under my plaid today. A needed subversiveness! It made me happy.

I will accept any consequences of the above. I didn’t do what I should have, but no one died, my co-worker said. GOOD POINT. But isn’t it kind of radical to admit you made a mistake and that now you’re working the problem?

I used this concept as my social-emotional lesson this afternoon. After lunch we come back to class and have 80 minutes before Music/PE. We do enrichment in this time, which is our math calendar time. In addition we do writing/handwriting, free choice, and our social-emotional time.

I had a lot of friends that were really struggling with listening. They were crawling around, touching others, ignoring me, making noises, and generally not paying any attention. Trust me, I get it. I feel that way inside while they are showing it on the outside. I want to squirm around, too.

So I sat down and pressed pause.

“Who is in charge of your choices?”

student(s): I am (we’ve obviously had this talk before)

“Who is in charge of you learning?

student(s): I am

“Who is in charge of your feelings?

student(s): I am

I could sense they were getting into that monotone answering place, so I told a story.

“You know how when you have to pick up something REALLY HEAVY and you’re not sure you can do it? You’re not sure you can keep carrying it? Your arm muscles and your leg muscles are getting tired and shaky and you think you might drop it? But then YOU DON’T and you’re so proud?

Well, it’s the same thing with our brain. Remember it’s a muscle. When you pick up hard things to think about, your brain has to work really hard. And it’s up to you if you put those hard things down, or if you keep holding on to them so that you can learn and grow. I can’t go in your brain. I can’t make you learn. It’s up to you, just you.

No one can MAKE you do anything. They can ask, and request, and hope.

But really, it’s up to you. Completely up to you.

So if you want to learn something, it’s up to you to work at learning it.”

I am not kidding, blog friends. It felt like there was emotional electricity in my classroom. Every single one of them GOT IT. I had all of their focus.

It was like I just gave them some sort of magic autonomy that let them feel-hey-I have more power than I thought I had. I can decide and choose to do something to change my life. It’s up to me.

We talked about how it’s okay to blow it. I said, “Ms. Fogerty has blown it and made mistakes about 41 times already today. I just try again. So can you!”

For the rest of the day, so much of what we said to each other was things like “well, they are choosing that poor choice right now,“ or “wow, that student chose to make such a great choice just now, did you see that!”

It felt like it took all of the emotional heat, the emotional reactionary response, out of the communications we had for the rest of the day. People were just-making their choices. And it was up to them what they chose to do. It felt so so good in my classroom. And for SURE there were plenty of mistakes happening.

A parent texted at the end of the school day, because her kiddo had a little extra help with choices today. I explained that I had been all kinds of positive about it, like, “hey, you know that doesn’t work now! Isn’t that great?!”

And I told her #youteachwhatyouneedtolearn


It’s really powerful to teach children. Everything I have to learn for myself in social-emotional development shows up in my work.

And it is magic and amazing for everyone.

While walking to the buses/cars after our amazing Chinese New Year celebration, all of us were in great moods.

What a moment to savor!

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