Swap out your expectations for goals and you won’t spend so much time feeling disappointed.
I bumped into a coworker at the copy machine and made the mistake of asking her how her day was going.
“Terrible!” she replied.
We both teach the same students in the same high school. She told me about everything wrong with each of her class periods that day. Some students sat with their heads down and others spent the period sneaking glimpses at their phones. They didn’t have their homework done and they didn’t participate in the activity she had planned.
It wasn’t the day she was expecting to have.
When she asked me how my day was going, I paused to think before I answered, “Actually, great!”
Kids in my classes also had their heads down. They didn’t have their work done and some were on their phones. But a student who never spoke up gave a great answer and then followed it up with a great question. A couple of kids chimed in with more hesitant answers and then when I gave them a follow up question, another kid chimed in. By the end of class, they were back to heads down and I was basically talking to myself.
If you were an objective observer, our classes probably looked very similar.
So why did she feel disappointed when I felt great?
We both wanted our classes to be wonderful. It’s a built in part of every teachers’ personality to want every class to be the best class ever. Without it, we wouldn’t have the guts or endurance to show up at school every day.
The difference is she expected her class to go great while my goal was to have a great class. She made a plan that would bring out the best in each student, leading them towards deep thoughts and enthusiastic participation. She had a high standard and plans that would get her there.
If it had worked out, she would have felt great.
I also had a plan. I chose a video and text that I thought would make my students curious about a topic. My goal was for everything to work out perfectly and for my students to high five me on their way out the door to celebrate the great 55 minutes we just shared!