22 December 2008

"You Can't Always Get What You Want....

...[but] sometimes you get what you need." Sometimes I find this chorus from the Rolling Stones' song runs through my head. Most recently the lyrics have come to mind as I'm watching the edublogosphere discussion on the acceptance and rejection of NECC 2009 proposals. Both Vicki Davis and Lisa Thumann have written eloquently on the topic, but I would like to add my two-cents worth even though I did not submit a proposal for NECC.

First, last week students at my school found out whether or not they had made the spring musical. There were high-fives and some tears, but one discussion stuck with me. One of the girls who got a prominent role in the play was ecstatic. She talked about how she had worked hard for three years to develop her singing and acting skills and now her hard work had paid off. Then she found out that one of her friends really wanted the role she earned and her face fell. She muttered that she couldn't possibly take the role if her friend was disappointed. Her friends talked her out of such drastic action by reminding her that she had worked very hard to earn the recognition and that, obviously, the director felt she was the best person for that role.

Further, I've noticed that, at least on my campus, tryouts for sports are really a formality. No one is cut from a team. In eight years I've never heard of a student being cut from a team because of lack of talent (Poor grades, yes. Talent, no). That explains why we have one team with 60 students. Yes, 60. They compete within the team for spots at matches, but no one is EVER cut.

Finally, this comes on the heals of getting a rejection letter from CCSS regarding one of my proposals for a session at their annual conference. My first thought was "bummer." My next thought was "cool, now I can spend more time networking!" Was I disappointed? Sure, but taking it personally wasn't appropriate. I know the committee got dozens of well-qualified proposals and they can't accept them all. I am thankful that one proposal was accepted.

So, what does this all mean? I'm a little concerned that we're so used to making everyone feel good about themselves and not "rejecting" them that we've gotten to the point where we have difficulty accepting the fact that there might be another idea out there better than our own. Someone else might be better for the job.

During the course of the past year, I've had several occasions where I was both "accepted" and "rejected" in my professional life. What I've done is this: I've asked myself "am I 'better' than someone else or just the right person at this time in this situation?" and "Does this 'rejection' make me less of an educator or am I just not the right person in this situation at this time?" I hope that pondering both of these questions helped me check my own assumptions about who I am as an educator and what I do. It's also kind of freeing to realize that maybe I'm not the right person today, but could be later. While I haven't always gotten what I wanted this year, I have come to realize that I generally get what I need at the time.

*image provided by Classroom Clipart