Sunday, August 25, 2013

Trying to Be Less Awesome



I see that a lot of people are blogging about changes they're making in their classrooms to become more awesome. As the antithesis, I'd like to talk about how I'm going to be less awesome. Yeah, that's right. Less awesome.

It all started about ten years ago...

I hated being an engineer. There, I said it. I hated it. I hated sitting in a cubicle. I hated waiting for the end of the day to come. I liked the people that I worked with, but what I was doing was terribly BORING. Don't get me wrong, some people love engineering. And there were certainly aspects of my job that I did love. But most of it was a bore and I had no motivation to become better at it.

The thing you should know about hating your job...you also learn to hate time. For me, there was too much of it. I had to sit at my desk for too long, and I couldn't wait for the end of the day to come. I would constantly watch the clock. I would unsuccessfully try to will the minute hand to move faster. Time sucked. It sucked the life out of me. And that was a terrible feeling to have, because I wanted to live every second of my life like it was amazing. And this most certainly wasn't.

And so, I ventured to do something else...teaching. Why teaching? I think it was because I liked performing for others because I did a lot of that as a mascot, and some woefully ignorant part of my brain thought that that was what teaching was all about. If somebody now asked me why I teach, I'd probably say: I want my students to do amazing things with their lives. I want them to have good role models. I want them to see how much life has to offer. I want them to see the beauty in math and figure things out and feel successful about it. But in all likelihood, if somebody asked me this, I'd leave out one of the biggest reasons I do it...that Nathan Kraft, who sucked at being an engineer and hated it, could still be awesome at something...anything.

I was going somewhere with this...

Oh yeah! I used to hate time. I cursed it. I wanted it to go by faster. And now that I'm trying to be this awesome teacher, it seems like I never have enough. I can't make every lesson as fun as I'd like it to be. I don't assess things as much as I should. I don't tutor all of the kids that need it. I don't read every blog post or attend every webinar or go to every conference, because when it comes down to it, it's freaking impossible to do. And if you try to do all that stuff, it robs you of your soul.

Am I being too dramatic? No! Trying to be awesome eats up so much of your own personal life, that it can screw things up for you. You don't eat right. You don't exercise. You stop prioritizing your family and friends. You sit down to write a blog post when you should be playing with your son. (Ooh, irony.)

So, I don't need to be as incredibly awesome as I thought I had to be. I don't need to prove to anyone that I am awesome. Because life should be balanced and we shouldn't be sitting at a computer screen all day. We shouldn't feel the need to prove anything to anyone. Sure you need to be a great teacher. But you also need to be a great friend, and son, and father. Don't try to be an awesome teacher. Try to be an awesome person.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go time travelling with my son to fight skeletons who want to eat our brains. You can thank me later, when you realize that your undigested brains are still very much intact.