Could I Have Done More?
No Matter How Exhausted We Are,We Still Ask the Question
Wondering What You Could Have Done
What if you missed an opportunity to accomplish a dream by one second? This week, The Boston Marathon Association announced the cutoff qualifying time for runners to be accepted into the 2021 race. Runners who ran a marathon between the approved calendar dates and beat their prospective qualifying times by 7 minutes and 47 seconds were approved to run the streets of Boston in October.
Whether it be an athletic pursuit, an hour in the classroom, a pitch for a product, or progress on a goal, it is only human to wonder if we could have done more.
What About The People Who Just Missed it?
While several runners celebrated a prestigious accomplishment, I thought about the runners who missed the opportunity to enter the race by as little as one second. In addition to running, I think about the missed opportunities in the classroom. When students leave my classroom, I am sometimes left wondering if I could have done better or more to help a student feel connected and understood. What if I missed an opportunity by a few seconds? What if I was on the verge of a breakthrough and it didn’t work out?
As a mom, I tell my kids who all participate in different activities, there are two rules.
- Finish the race. No matter how ugly or awful it becomes, if you are not injured in a way that might prevent you from future opportunities in the activity, you need to finish the race. There will be times when you don’t want to keep moving and want to ring the bell to signal you are finished. But, the real test comes in having the guts to finish when it feels like it’s not worth it.
- Do the Mirror test. After you participate in something, you need to do the mirror test. The mirror test is when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am proud of the effort I gave. I did the best I could do at the time.”
The two rules I ask my kids to follow are a good way to check myself. After a long day at work, I feel good knowing I keep going this school year regardless of how messy it looks, and while every day looks different, I did what I could based on the awareness I had.
What Are you Smiling About?
The last time I raced, I let temporary things cloud my overall experience. When I looked at the pictures of several of my friends approaching the finish line at last month’s Toledo Marathon, I saw so many people smiling! I,on the other hand, was upset about my race and decided that I needed to hold onto pain, exhaustion, embarrassment, frustration, and negative energy so that I could be weighed down by it. At the end of the race, I felt like I needed to suffer, and believed to smile was not something I deserved. Ironically, when I smile I find that running feels easier!
My last race reminded me of being in the classroom on a tough day. There have been moments in my teaching career that have been extraordinarily difficult. When I transition from one class to another, smiling has felt like the last thing I should be doing.
Smiling Is Exactly What I Should Be Doing
In reality, smiling is exactly what I should be doing after tough moments. The end of an hour, a race, an interaction with a student signifies that I made it. It might not have gone perfectly, but later this moment will add to the evidence that I can survive challenging moments. At this moment, I did the best that I could with the awareness that I had. Smiling is exactly what I should be doing.
The Blessing And The Curse of Social Media
Social media has the potential to be one of the best places to discover new ideas, opportunities, and people. I have met so many amazing people and connected with phenomenal podcasts, books and new ideas as a result of Twitter and Instagram. I am more motivated and am a better teacher because of the insight from connections I have made on social media. There are moments when I honestly feel as though I couldn’t do anymore and am incredibly proud of myself as a professional.
It’s okay to Unplug
While it is overflowing with ideas to inspire, it can quickly facilitate frustration and feelings of inadequacy. One of the best things about technology is the power we have over it. When it is not working for us, we can either turn it off or step away for a moment.
Not Harder But Smarter
Human nature has me sometimes starting by replaying the event and wondering how I could have done better. A friend of mine recently ran a marathon, and while she had an incredible time (Personal Best and a Boston Qualifier), she still begged the question, “Could I have done more? Could I have run faster?”
Sometimes the key is not to work harder but to be smarter about what you are doing. The magic begins to fall when you are creative and open-minded. For example, in the classroom, rather than trying one more time to get students to do something that has yet to work, consider approaching things from a completely different angle. Over the weekend, I listened to the newest episode of The Staff Room Podcast #81, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. The episode focused on adding music to the classroom, and I saw music as a means for making connections and building relationships with students. The ideas that came from the podcast elevated my energy, as I literally could not wait for Monday Morning.
Literally- Embrace More Music
As I listened to this podcast, I thought about an educator who constantly embraces music. Sean Gillard (@smgaillard) doesn’t go a day without sharing music. A song has a way of explaining something that nothing else can. Music can be effective in my classroom, recently, I have started listening to a lot more music and feel more connected, alive, and energized. As a runner, I count on music lifting me when I need it most, so why not apply the same idea to my job and the everyday moments.
What You Did Is Perfect
If you were meant to be farther along in life and with your goals, you would be. You’re exactly where you need to be to learn the lessons, meet the people, and have the experiences you need to have. (Sam Laura Brown). Our job is to keep going, even when it seems overwhelming. Opportunities rise to meet you at the perfect time.
Human nature will have us continue to ask the question, “Could I have done more?” Often there is probably something else that could have added to the success of an experience, but smile and realize that If you are still moving forward, can look yourself in the mirror and honestly answer that you are doing your best, you are right on track and should feel proud.