Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Progress Not Perfection

Progress I am in the process of trying to lose weight and eat healthy. But I’m at a plateau right now in my weight and I’m a little discouraged. Today I listened to The Jillian Michaels podcast and heard the episode on Setbacks where she talks about how I need to focus on progress and not perfection. This really hit home for me because I had 19 days in a row of 10000+ steps per day. But this Friday I couldn’t do it. Then on Saturday I had 21000+ steps but couldn’t do it on Sunday. This discouraged me and I felt like a failure. After listening to this episode, it hit me. I did 19 days straight of 10000+ steps! That is amazing! This time last year I couldn’t imagine even getting 5000 steps per day! I’m discouraged that I got down 20 pounds and gained back 5 but in the big picture, I’m still 15 pounds lighter than I was last January! Thinking about my progress has truly motivated me again and I was able to run for an hour today on my treadmill.

I imagine this is how my students feel. Many times I review some information and they have forgotten it. I know I taught it and that they even knew it the day before or even the week before but today they just don’t have a clue. I’m frustrated and I know they feel the same way. To combat this frustration, I need to remind them (and myself) of the progress that they have made. I can’t let them focus on the couple of steps backward when I can help them see how much forward progress they have made.

If I can’t show them any progress, I need to reevaluate the goals I have helped them set. Maybe the goals aren’t realistic. Have I incorporated enough small goals that are achievable or have I set them up for failure?

It might be good to keep records of the progress so that they can be charted. Nothing motivates me more when I can produce data to show my own progress. Instead of seeing the individual ups and downs, I can look at the chart and see the trend that is showing an upward movement in my weight loss. I can see an positive trend towards my overall eating habits where I’m eating less calories because I’m also eating healthier. I can see a positive movement in my overall activity level because I can see that I’m burning more calories.

I need to think about what data I want to help my students keep track of. It might be behavior data or skills data. Behavior data such as how long the student can be quiet without interrupting others, touching others, talking out can be recorded on a tally sheet and then put into an excel spreadsheet. Reading skills such as the decoding words correctly per a certain amount of words, spelling words spelled correctly, comprehension questions answered correctly. Depending on the age of the student, they might be able to record the data in a spreadsheet themselves. It is easy to turn this data into a chart on a weekly, monthly, and semester basis. These charts are great to bring to parent conferences!

I also believe that sharing this progress with parents helps them also focus on progress rather than perfection. I have had parents zone in on one negative thing that is mentioned in a conference rather than comment at all on the progress that the student has made. Now I appreciate the parents supporting me with the problem but after this is dealt with, I need to bring the conversation back to the positive motion the student has made. By only dealing with the negative, I am expecting perfection from the student which would mean I’m setting the student up for failure. By showing progress, the parents can also see that the student is putting forth effort for improvement.

So, by looking at my own life and focusing on progress and not perfection, I can model this mindset for others.

Do you focus on progress and not perfection? Share your progress!

Image: 'Business success of a businessman'
Found on flickrcc.net

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