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Winning the Comparison Game

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dull classroom

It's a new year. Often it's the time we think about making changes or doing something new.

As I think about teachers and classrooms and a new year, I think about the words of a four-year-old friend. One day he told me: "You are the best Mr. Scott ever!"

That's what I want to be - the best Mr. Scott ever - the best I can be as a teacher.

Too often we teachers fall into the comparison game. "My room doesn't look like hers." "His kids are so much quieter walking in the hall." "Her kids are all learning faster than my class."

This is a dangerous game. I know. I've done it. I still do it from time to time.

But guess what? I shouldn't try to beat someone at their game. I should be the best teacher I can be. That means being the teacher that meets my personality and skills.

I am not a decorating teacher. My room will never have color-coordinated borders and signs and chair pockets. It's not me. (If that's you, great!) My room is usually much more low-key and will feature kids' work or charts we've made or other related things.

My room is usually a little noisy and a little messy. We sometimes have dance breaks. We'll read a book together from a Web site. We may do things in a little crazy way.

But that's me.

I don't need to try and be like someone else. I can learn from other teachers and gain valuable ideas. I can also choose to do something in a completely different way.

And what's interesting in all this. I never expect the other teachers to be like me. I don't expect teachers to have a dance party in the middle of math time.

But I often chastise myself for not being like them. Crazy, huh?

So this new year, plan to give yourself a break. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know at the time. Look for ways you can do what you do in the best way possible.

Care about the children. Look for ways to put their needs first. (Yes, even ahead of those standards!)

In a month or a semester or a year, compare yourself to who you were. Are you growing as a teacher? Are you learning new things? Is today better than yesterday?

That's how you win the comparison game.

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Scott has been an early childhood educator for 30 years. He has been a preschool center director and preschool ministry leader in a church. He has taught elementary school. He developed and edited curriculum for a religious publisher for 15 years. Currently, Scott is a freelance curriculum writer and editor, a workshop leader, and a school volunteer. In addition to his blog, Brick by Brick, he writes for the collaborative blog Pre-K and K Sharing (http://prekandksharing.blogspot.com) and works as editor for Pre-K Pages (pre-kpages.com).

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Guest Thursday, 21 September 2017