Practice makes perfect. I can not even count how many times that has been followed immediately with an additional word in the statement. PERFECT practice makes perfect. Coaches, parents, teachers, and music instructors have reminded me over and over again that I must practice perfectly in order to perfect a skill or concept. As a professional educator, I "practice" every day in my instruction and administration. My lesson plans, assessments, decisions, and interactions with colleagues, parents, and students are all ways that I "practice." What is the end result? What needs to be perfect? Student achievement is the end result, and it needs to be perfect. We all know that it will not be perfect. We also know that the administrator's or the teacher's "practice" will not be perfect either.
I think a new statement may be more realistic as we try to grow as educators. IMPERFECT practice makes perfect. If my practice is perfect, if I take no risks, then I will not grow. Hoerr, 2009 says, "If I'm only succeeding, I'm not learning" (p. 90) He goes on to explain how a change in our mindset may allow us to become better teachers. "People with a growth mind-set are willing to take risks, and they view failure as an opportunity to learn, not as a statement about their worth" (2009, p. 91). I know that I have fallen short in my instruction throughout my career. I have begin 2010 looking for ways to include more technology, more cooperative learning, and more authentic learning. The first 6 days of 2010 have been messy. I have struggled to find new activities, include technology, and break old habits. The good news is that messy has been good. Messy has led to more class discussion, more student interaction, and more student ownership. It has led me to have higher anticipation for teaching and a greater desire to reflect on lessons and determine areas of growth.
I'll conclude by addressing teachers looking to grow, administrators looking to challenge their staff, and students who are willing to learn. I offer the following advice from Hoerr, 2009, "I'll be disappointed if it's a perfect lesson. I want you to try something new, take a risk, so you can learn" (p. 91)
Hoerr, Thomas R. (2009-2010, December-January). Principal as Parachute. Educational Leadership, 67(4), 90-91.