The courage to be imperfect

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.

Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

~Scott Adams

Educators and staff in my community start the new school year tomorrow. And as they do, there will be the usual pressure to be perfect. Perfect in pedagogy, perfect in understanding students, perfect in everything that has to do with school, in the finger-pointing education environment under which we teach and learn.

Does it seem as if somehow no one in public education is allowed a misstep?  I think so; and I think that toxic expectation of perfection can interfere with the art of teaching.

In teaching, there is an underlying expectation that all should go according to plan without stumbling or error. This is an unrealistic expectation, and it creates an environment of canned, scripted and safe lessons that do not necessarily serve students. Unrealistic expectations of flawless lessons create an impediment to teaching creatively.  As any experienced educator can attest, every day there will be moments when all goes smoothly, and moments when nothing does. This is to be expected. Teaching is an art filled with glorious highs and magnificent lows; sometimes this takes place within the same 60 minutes.

As you all return to school and to the important work of creating a community of learners, I urge you to embrace both creativity and the mistakes that are inevitable.

Do the research. Read professionally. Participate in discussions with colleagues. Take chances. Take advantage of opportunities for creativity in teaching and learning. Teaching is an art and you, my friends, are the creatives.


Where dreams intersect

Several years ago, my husband Adrien was working in the corporate world as a software engineer.  For a long time, he had worked for large and small software companies and enjoyed both the work and the camaraderie…. and the pay wasn’t bad either.

But some time about five years ago, he had a moment when staying with his engineering job was overshadowed by the desire to do something more creative, to return to his early interest in photography. And so he did. It has been an exciting journey of hard work and worry and determination.

This past summer, he connected with the staff at UTEC with a proposal and a hope that he could explore creating portraits and a film documenting the UTEC program’s young people.

Capturing the hope and resilient spirit of youth who have had some tough breaks, but who are determined to break out of cycles of trauma generated from varied socio-economic factors, has been a journey of enlightenment. While we both were aware of UTEC’s existence, I don’t believe either of us knew the depth of this program’s impact.

These young people also have dreams and goals. How eloquent they are in the expression of where they have been and where they are going! I want my own elementary-age students – the ones who could easily take a misstep – to listen, to learn from you.

Serendipity has put these young people, so determined to overcome challenges, and Adrien, determined to tap into something more,  in each other’s pathways.

It is the place where dreams intersect.

To see the images and the film, click on the following links:

UTEC Portraits

Video “Chipping Away”