In Between Lazy and Perfection

by Holly Thompson, October 04, 2020


I felt lazy when I “just” showed the Cosmic Kids Yoga Video on the screen this week in my classes. Traditionally I take the kids outside, read a story, and then do a yoga session with them that matches the theme. I bring my iPad so it's guided by the video, but since the kids can't see the screen, I do the yoga with them and they watch me but listen to the audio. 

I am almost certified to do these on my own. I have taken a full course and just have to submit a performance session with students to the instructor. Until then. I use the video to guide us. The kids love it! (So do I) 

This last week it was too cold and wet to go outside, so we did them in the classroom. The kids could see the video well so I didn't need to do the whole video to guide them. I stood in the back and watched - doing some of the moves so they knew they weren't alone. I felt incredibly guilty. All they were doing was watching and participating with a video. I was not teaching. 

But did it matter? 


As I was watching the kids, I decided that NO - in fact, it doesn't. When I look at the experience through their eyes, the end result doesn't matter one bit if I am leading or if I used my teacher brain to facilitate the lesson this way. I designed the lesson on purpose to incorporate storytelling and movement in the middle of a day that is filled with rigorous instruction from their teachers. They were excited and engaged and they met the outcome I set forth. #winning

I could have spent hours practicing and planning to deliver this without the aid of the professional video. I could have done it "to my standards" of perfection that I so often subscribe to. But instead, I spent that planning time designing other lessons that MY participation and design was needed.  I used pre-made tools for this lesson, so I could infuse my own creativity and love into another. 

While listening to an audiobook this morning, I was reminded how our lives transform one small act at a time. Our way of teaching is going to transform that way, too. We were forced into a rapid change which has been super stressful. We feel like from a distance we need to be the same teacher we are in the classroom. We need to create everything ourselves because that is how WE teach. But what if instead of looking at the technology tools we have as lazy, we look at them as enhancements to our day? 

If we can have kids use a subscription service to read a common book that is already done (by a professional, actually or better yet - the author) and use a premade digital lesson from TPT that results in the same outcomes as that old novel study we have done for years, Let's do that! We don't need to take hours to read an entire book aloud so they can hear our voice. 

When you think of the student experience, it is MUCH more meaningful if the way they hear our voice is in a live lesson or in an audio recording of us commenting on their recent work and guiding them to the next level. THAT is all OUR UNIQUE GIFT that our kids are craving! 

Think of the way you know their faces light up when they get a personal message from us vs. another mass recording. Let's spend our time on that first! 

Another option is to use paid services that walk kids through the lessons (such as IXL or Lexia) for the basic content, and then you differentiate further in small groups and conferring. 

It is NOT lazy to use the tools we have to enhance our teaching. In fact, using tools and services that are done for us gives us the time to be creative and put our efforts into something we are passionate about (like making my favorite in-person research process digital.) We can honor our perfectionism one creative lesson at a time that will then be available to us for years to come. It's a balance and our expert experience can achieve a balance that works.

Next week, I am so excited about the lessons I have designed.  They are a combo of other people's work and mine. They are set and ready to go and planning took a lot less time than when I was doing it all on my own. It might also be another reason I slept through the night last night for the first time since school started. 


My kids are going to listen to the story Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea. and then use a youtube video by Bob Shea to draw a unicorn. The actual outcome of the lessons are about friendship and how to watch a video for learning (vs. entertainment). They are going to have to stop, pause, and rewind. If I had insisted on spending my time practicing yoga, my creative brain may have been too tired to create this other lesson. 

I promise that if you remove the term "lazy" from using other's work and replace it with "effective" that you will find much more impactful ways to be creative, serve your students, and lessen your burnout! What perfectionist things can you let go of in your teaching right now? Let's celebrate them and share! 

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