Being Brave With Language

I have a terrible habit I’ve had to work against my whole life: I compare. Constantly. It’s a battle to remind myself not to do this. I do it with everything: how much I get done, how clean my house is, how our children behave. And it spills over into Spanish: how well my lessons go, how my classroom compares to others, how much Spanish our children speak, and how well I speak.

Ugh. Comparison is such a thief of joy, and disrupt-er of peace. I don’t want it to poison my life, or rob me of bravery because I am filling my own mind with all the possible thoughts of other minds the world over. I do know the truth– I know that life is short, and the million things that worry me will all pass away.

So I am reminding myself to be brave, and live from peace:

1. In the classroom. Teachers are under a lot a pressure already, and to add to it, we often make it worse by being judgmental of others. I need to remind myself to simply do the best I can, with all that I know right now. I will keep reading, and keep learning how to be a better teacher. There ARE teachers far better than me, or who have had more training, who engage their students better than I do. So what can I do? I can find the teachers I admire, and learn from them. I don’t have to beat myself up when I realize there is a better way than mine. Instead of comparing– whose is better– I can think “What is that other teacher doing that is good? Can I do it too?”

2. With my kids. Families are so very different, with circumstances we just don’t know. Through blogging I am in touch with some amazing families whose children speak 3 or 4 languages. It’s so cool!– and of course I immediately think, “Oh man, that’s so much better…” Again, I have to remind myself to do what we can with what we have. There’s no end to the comparison train once you’re on it, because there will always be someone doing it better, somewhere. We could throw in more languages at some point, and in the meantime be thankful for our two languages. I also want to be sure my kids know we do things as a family because we love them and think they’re good– not because someone else does them. Life is too short and too precious to spend it chasing after other people’s goals.

3. With Spanish. This one is for me. So far, I have a grand total of one post in Spanish. Once we homeschool I plan to write more in Spanish, so Latino parents who speak Spanish can find information here. I am a little terrified of that, because my Spanish isn’t perfect. And when I make mistakes, I can get fixated on them (for years). This is silly, because I tell students over and over to be brave and try, and not to let perfectionism keep them from speaking. They can never learn and get better without trying! In fact, I have this posted in my room:

It’s a reminder for my students, but it’s really for me too. My friend Julie from Mundo de Pepita mentioned once embracing our “learner’s voices,” and it really stuck with me. Perhaps because I’m a teacher or a blogger, I’m scared of not speaking or writing perfectly. And so I use less Spanish than I could online, or apologize profusely when I make a mistake in speaking to a friend. (Not products of course– those errors I fix RIGHT AWAY! ;))

But it’s not fair to assure my immigrant friend bravely speaking English that she is wonderful to try and learn, and be really hard on myself. It’s like when people apologize for their clean homes, and you think to yourself “If this is a mess, you are NEVER coming to my house!” I don’t want to spend my life thinking that only perfect things are worthwhile. Really, it’s the brave things, the faithful things that are.

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