Do What You Can

trfailureThis year has been one of learning for me. Physical activity has been a struggle for me for years, and so in January when I decided I would set out to run a 5K this spring, it was a shock to pretty much everyone who knows me.

The thing that has most intrigued me has been how much I have learned about life just from this one decision. I intend to spend the summer writing about these topics quite a bit. I also plan to dig into some of the other series that I began on the blog and for whatever reason never completed. Needless to say, I have a good bit of reading and writing that I will be doing over the summer.

apathytrSome of my long-term readers are surely looking forward to that as I have been pretty sketchy as far as my writing has been over the past two years or so. I blame it on getting my iPhone in the Summer of 2008 as well as my shift to spending more time on Facebook (and more recently Twitter). On top of the less frequent posting on here, things get compounded as I get disappointed with myself for waiting too long and not posting. So the added shame adds up and leads to inaction.

trhardworkIt’s not entirely that extreme, but it has been tough for me to start writing a lot of times, even though I have these grand ideas. Then it hit me:

This is the same struggle that many of our students experience.

Math used to be much easier, but now it’s difficult and so they worry that maybe there’s something wrong with them. So instead of pushing through the discomfort, they ofttimes give up entirely. Spelling, music, grammar, whatever else. It’s there.

trresolutionThe very thing that keeps me from joining a gym even to this day is the same thing that debilitates all of our students in one area or another. It stops us all numerous times a day. Fear is insidious. It keeps us from risking. I believe fear is why some teachers remain ineffective for far longer than they should. I know for sure it’s why I was bad my first two years. I didn’t want to admit to my friends that I was a bad teacher. So I just pretended that it was because I had bad students.

Sure we’ll have a bad batch here and there, but when we consistently find misbehavior and laziness being characteristics of most of our students, then the problem is within us.

vigortrToday, I came across the following quote on Twitter that summarizes this concept pretty well:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

Nike says Just do it. Get out there and try something. If you mess up, at least you have attempted something great. Without risk, there can be no reward.

If you like the above quote and the pictures included in this article, be sure to check out more of the Theodore Roosevelt Motivational Posters over at The Art of Manliness

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

3 Comments on Do What You Can

  1. This is very inspirational. We all have trials and tribulations in life but it is so important to remember that even then it is an opportunity to learn and achieve great things. Keeping inspiring others!!!

  2. It is interesting that you posted this now. I have recently been dealing with similar issues of my own. I had never heard that Roosevelt quote before. However, it reminds me of a very similar saying that my dad and I share. Whenever one of us begins to feel overwhelmed, we remind each other of this simple philosophy: “Do what you can, when you can; and the rest will be dealt with another day.” Sometimes it leads to procrastination, but more often it results in more productive work, and less stress. I agree that this is an important message for our students. We should encourage them to try their best and pace themselves when they meet a challenge. It should be noted that taking a task slowly are not the same thing and the former is considerably more admirable. I really like that you had the wisdom to relate your own feelings to your students. Hopefully, your wisdom will benefit all of your readers as well.

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