Applying to #GTANY, Perfectionism, and Fear of Failure #edchat #flipclass #googlect

I am a perfectionist, to an unhealthy degree in fact. Yes, my perfectionism and discipline make me a great worker and employee… and I get a lot of quality work done. But perfectionism is also my greatest enemy. Why do I bring this up?

Google tools play a huge place in the future of education, in my opinion. I would be completely lost without google products, both in my personal life and in my classroom: from organization, to real-time collaboration, to assessing and analyzing, and making the outside world real and alive from our seats. Yes, I love all things google! So when I read about Google Teacher Academy, I really wanted to be a part of the experience. I decided I would apply and get my application ready in July. Without getting personal, I did not have the time this month to put my full effort into the application process. And so, I figured I would not be able to apply this year… After all, if I couldn’t make the application “perfect”, how could I possible submit anything? But that decision majorly bummed me out… I mean, what if there was even the slightest chance that I might get selected with a less than perfect application? And so, I decided I would give myself a 24-hour time limit to put the application together. I had already read the application several times so I had an idea in mind for my responses and has a vision for the video. I worked my very hardest all day to get the written and video portion of the application together. The essay answers just came from the heart, so I didn’t stress over those. But I found the 1 minute time limit on the video to be a real challenge! I had decided that I was going to keep it simple, but the time constraint was making my overall message less strong. I edited, re-recorded, re-scripted, repeat… until, at 3:30 am, I decided it was complete.

BUT, I didn’t feel particularly proud of my application. I mean, I worked really hard on it, but I knew I could have done better. I didn’t have time to work on the application the next day, but I couldn’t get it off my mind. I wanted to tweak it, work harder, and spend hours more on it. That next day was pretty miserable, in fact. I didn’t have time to work on anything, but I couldn’t stop thinking about things that I could change… In fact, I decided that I just wasn’t going to apply at all this year. It wasn’t even about fear of not being accepted… but a disappointment that the final product hadn’t turned out as perfectly as I had wanted it and that it wasn’t going to blow the judges off their feet. I talked to my mom about it and she told me I better get my butt home and hit the submit button after working so hard on getting it all prepared! So I listened to her and did just that… Without sitting down to rethink, I hit submit.

Okay, so it was submitted. But then I thought about my video… and why I hadn’t tweeted the link to share with others. I mean, I gain so much from twitter – it’s my #1 source of learning and growing in my teaching. I realized that I was embarrassed that my video wasn’t the best work that I felt that I could do. I didn’t want people to know about it… But my video is all about collaboration and learning from one another; sharing and building relationships to help one another grow; and spreading great ideas to allow for innovation in the classroom! Even if it isn’t perfect or my best work, isn’t it my responsibility to share?! Even thinking about the fact that I hesitated so much frustrates me! Wasn’t it Churchill who said, “Perfectionism spells paralysis”?

So here is the video I put together:

Feel free to “like” the video or comment. Who knows, it might help :) Thanks for reading this! It was a hard post for me to write! But I am glad that it gave me an opportunity to share with all of you why I am so passionate about being a supportive teacher and helping my students navigate the stress and anxiety that HS can bring. I try to make my classroom a place where my learners can safely take risks… yet know that I will be there when they fail. Because perfectionism certainly is a rotten thing! Good is often better than perfect. And doing something is always better than doing nothing at all.

“I don’t like these cold, precise, perfect people who, in order not to speak wrong, never speak at all, and in order not to do wrong, never do anything.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

10 thoughts on “Applying to #GTANY, Perfectionism, and Fear of Failure #edchat #flipclass #googlect

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s been a nerve-racking process for all applicants. I, on the other hand, had one week of vacation to obsess about it. Having so much time has been terrible. Unfortunately, I work best under pressure and imminent deadline, after all, I’m a teacher. ;) I’d wished I didn’t have too many days to torture myself and constantly revise and second guess myself. I just wanted to tell you you’re not alone. Be confident in what you put into your application. I’m sure your talent, passion, innovation, and expertise shined. Good news is you’ll know one way or another within a short period of time. Hope we have the chance to learn from each other at GTANY.

    • Thanks so much for the comment, David! Twitter is definitely a great source of support for me and I have to remember that: we are learning, sharing, growing together! Hope to meet you soon.

      • Hey, my iPhone post went through. Amazed I could type anything coherent with that tiny screen. Sorry for the second, slightly reworded reply below.

      • If it makes your feel any better, after I watched your GTA video, I thought to myself: Well, she just took one slot. At least there are 49 left. :)

  2. Tried to leave a reply on my iPhone but it looks like something may have gone wrong. If so, sorry for the multiple replies.

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing your experience. This is a nerve-wracking time for all applicants and you’re definitely not alone. I think everyone is worried about what they’ve done or not done during this process.

    Unlike you, I had a week-long vacation to obsess about my application. I work best under pressure and imminent deadlines (I’m a teacher after all), so a long period of time to change and second guess myself has been torture. I’m still not done and have a two more questions to wordsmith thinking my word choice for those two responses will make a difference. In actually, it won’t. However, we beat ourselves up because we care and are perfectionists like all good teachers are. It’s also all we have to do while we await our fate.

    Be confident your passion, innovation and talent will shine in your application. I’m sure you did an incredible job and are a very strong candidate. I’ll try to take my own advice and relax over these next couple of days. Hope we have the opportunity to learn from each other at GTANY.

  3. Stacey-I too, am a perfectionist so I can relate to your story. I am currently going through the national board of certification process and have anxiety about making every aspect perfect in my eyes. That said, your story is touching and your video is impressive. Even if you reach one person with your story, you’ve changed someone’s life. So, I thank you for being vulnerable and reaching out to your PLN!

  4. Your last statement really says it all Stacey. I’m all too familiar with the “paralysis of failure”. I think all teachers who really care about what they do suffer from a bout on anxiety at some point. I know I do at the start of every school year when I first meet my kids. I think of all this weight on my shoulders as my students go through the journey of learning chemistry. One thing that I’ve learned this past year is to really be honest with myself, and to not be so tough on when things don’t go as planned.

    It’s awesome that you use this this post to debrief about your experience. I think that’s the best thing. True professionalism: you learn to adapt and be better the next time. It’s all because you care, and it shows.

    I’ll be looking forward to the next post.

  5. Stacey,
    Reading your post makes me laugh at myself. I too hate to put out work that isn’t “perfect” or at least a reflection of what I believe to by my best self. I had been thinking about the GTA application since ISTE, but life, my family, and my two jobs seemed to keep me just busy enough to postpone the application until Sunday. . .I mean, I would have all day, right? Then my oldest daughter’s soccer team went to the finals of a tournament, then at 4:30, one of her girl scout friends had to record an audiobook for a project I am helping them with. . .then it was 6pm. . .not much time for the application. I filmed my kids talking about why I would make a great GCT, sat down to edit it, then realized I didn’t have the “theme” I needed. The funny thing is that my entire working life is consumed with learning, innovation, and community service. I did the best I could to edit the video to meet the requirement then barely submitted it at literally 11:59. . . I didn’t really want to share the video either, but I quickly realized that I have my uploaded YouTube videos go directly to Facebook. . .so it became public (at least to my friends. . .and a few billion YouTube users ;-) I doubt I’ll make it to GTANY but it will stand as a lesson in humility and putting a bit more time and effort in the things you most want in life. . .
    jeffery heil

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