Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Becoming Better

As a parent I wanted my children's teachers to be at their best everyday.  My children deserved nothing less.

Yet is that realistic?

Atul Gawande in his book Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, writes:

In surgery, as in anything else, skill and confidence are learned through experience - haltingly and humiliatingly.  Like the tennis player and the oboist and the guy who fixes hard drives, we need to practice to get good at what we do.  There is one difference in medicine, though; it is people we practice on.  (p. 18)

I might add "in education" to his one area of difference.  Teachers or principals or Superintendents work not just with people but with children.  While I would like to believe that every teacher, principal, or Superintendent is excellent their first day on the job, I know know that is not true.

As I transition into the Novi Community School District, my hope is that I will do a wonderful job.  I know though that I will make mistakes.  My hope is that I can minimize the mistakes, learn from them when I do make them, and get better tomorrow than I am today.

Yet for parents or community members is that good enough?  As Gawande says, "it is people we practice upon."

Accepting work as a teacher or principal or Superintendent comes with certain risks.  I will be judged more quickly and more harshly for the mistakes that I make.  And I should.  After all, mistakes I make could potentially have a tremendous impact on the life of a child.

I need to minimize the mistakes while at the same time pressing to make us better. It is a delicate balance but unless I am willing to accept the responsibility I should not accept the job.

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