There Are No Perfect Teachers and There Are No Perfect Students, But There Are Perfect Moments of Learning in Every Day

By Kathy Reeves
13 July, 2016


The desire for perfection is deadly. It can kill your joy, kill your job satisfaction, and kill your productivity.  How can you make peace with the fact that you aren't going to be the perfect teacher every moment of every day?  Not only that, how do you accept the fact that your coworkers and students aren't going to be perfect either?  Here are 4 ways to accept your imperfections and as a result be a better, happier teacher.

1.  Go on a Pinterest diet

Pinterest hides the messy imperfections and shows you the absolute best.  Don't compare everything you plan and prepare for your classroom with what you see on Pinterest.  Living a Pinterest life or having a Pinterest classroom isn't possible 100% of the time.

2.  Remember that done is better than perfect

Perfection is the enemy of progress.  How often have you failed to complete something because it wasn't going to be your definition of "perfect"?  Finish that classroom project, and then step back and admire the GREAT things about it!

3.  Focus on making progress instead of achieving perfection

Perfection is unreachable, and striving for perfection will only lead to disappointment.  Progress IS achievable. Make peace with imperfection while still striving for improvement.

4.  Love the moment

Once a day, stand in your classroom and look around.  For 30 seconds just take it all in.  Look for the good and wonderful things about teaching, your students, and your opportunity to have a positive influence. Ignore the torn bulletin board, the messy stacks of papers, the unfinished grading, and the lesson plans waiting to be completed.  Name 3 things you love about that moment in time.

I love the way Brene Brown talks about perfectionism.  She says, “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame.”  Watch this video of her discussion with Oprah about perfectionism.

How do you avoid the trap of perfectionism?

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Great advice, perfect message (ha). We definitely put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the perfect teacher. I don't do the Pinterest, but I hear about it a lot through other teachers. I agree with Lulu-- it helps everyone when we, as adults, share some struggles with students so that they don't feel like they're failures. Makes the successes seem well-earned and worth being proud about! Thanks, Kathy.

Stephen Alder

23 September, 2016 04:27 PM


I need a Pinterest diet (and a Facebook diet as well)! Thanks for the advice. I avoid perfectionism by really communicating with my students - asking about their best and worst and sharing my own. By sharing our struggles and our triumphs, we see that imperfection is universal and provides a path to growth and change.

Lulu C

20 July, 2016 09:01 AM


That's a great discussion to have with students! Thanks for sharing.


20 July, 2016 09:34 AM

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