Both gratifying and frustrating is my penchant for perfection. It began with pressure from my Japanese mom to make sure that I always gave my best in all of my endeavors. And while I can honestly say that I give my best most of the time, I have to admit that sometimes I’m so tired that I give just enough.

Don’t tell my mom.

Being the oldest sibling, I also felt (still feel?) the need to set a good example for my brother. And so I made sure to do my best for him, too. But I think…no, I know, that the pressure to excel contributed to my need for control…over basically everything.

I don’t kid myself that I can control what goes on around me. But I can certainly control my thoughts and actions. This reality comes in quite handy as a classroom teacher and doctoral student. In fact, I think one of the reasons why my dissertation adviser (@skprosser) and I hit it off so well is our innate need to control things. We are two controlling peas in the same pod.

But what does that mean for me as a teacher?

As the new school year quickly approaches (trust me when I say that I’m relishing the last few days of summer), I am reminding myself that though I need to set the standard for my students…I also need to show them the humanity behind my craziness. Though I constantly feel the need to be perfect, to give my best in all of my endeavors, I also need to be okay with giving just enough when the situation warrants. And I need to help my middle schoolers (those little perfectionists in the making) to see the same thing. Perhaps more importantly, I need to help my middle schoolers to see the humor in imperfection, no matter how much pressure parents put on us…I mean them.

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