Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I talked to a friend yesterday and she told me about a message she received. It really doesn't matter what the message was but it disappointed her. At the same time just the opposite was happening to me - I was not receiving an expected message and this was disappointing to me.

Again the content of the messages is really irrelevant - it is the disappointment that is meaningful - or maybe how the disappointment is handled that is the meaningful part.

Life is made up of disappointments. I remember someone telling me that a 400 batting average - which would be an outstanding major league average - really means that the batter was unsuccessul 60% of the time. When you consider that a 250 batting average is acceptable then 75% of all attempts are unsucessful.

It is hard not to focus on the disappointments - it is hard to avoid obsessing about the disappointment. It is probably even harder to get past the disappointment. But that's what we all need to do.

In this case my friend and I have each other. We are good friends and often talk about our feelings of success and failure. So we will talk about these disappointments, make plans for other things that we feel are worthhile and hope to avoid other disappointments.

For the time being though the disappointments sting.

So what does this have to do with teaching and especially teaching business subjects? Well in some ways an entrepreneur is fated to have disappointments and failures - most small businesses don't survive.

But to me the more important issue concerns teaching and being a life long learner as a teacher.

If teachers are like baseball players there will be many disappointments in the classroom. It isn't productive, obviously, to cry in our soup or to blame the students or the principal or the community. What is productive is to try to become aware of why things didn't go as planned - why the disappointment happened.

Sometimes these things are totally out of our hands - but sometimes there is something to be learned about ourselves as teachers and as people. Awareness, reflection, trying to stay unemotional and objective are all part of the learning process.

So I will look at my disappointment and ask what I can learn from this. Perhaps there is nothing to learn - perhaps I won't be able to learn without talking about this with someone I trust - and that is where my friend comes in - perhaps we can learn something together from our disappointments - perhaps we can talk and discuss and support and laugh - and change each other because of these setbacks.

Teaching, life, friendship, professionalism are all bound up in each other - where does one end and the other begin - it isn't worth trying to untangle all of that - we are who we are in our complexity and our various and shifting roles


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