I Want To Do More Than “My Best!”

I’ve participated in professional development sessions before, where groups of educators have discussed what we can do to improve. As we look at options, often the point is made that, “we all do our best.” We all try as hard as we can. And I get that! I’ve made this point myself — many times

Recently though, I’ve been reading and thinking more about comments made by John Hattie, and doing “my best,” no longer seems good enough. On page 9 of this document, Hattie says that, “Expert teachers are more likely to set challenging rather than ‘do your best’ goals …” Hattie’s referring to goals for students, but shouldn’t we as teachers, hold the same high expectations for ourselves? I think that I almost always “do my best”:

  • I know my students.
  • I differentiate to try and meet all student needs.
  • I offer lots of voice and choice in the classroom.
  • I plan ahead.
  • I try to stick with predictable routines.
  • I try to always remain calm.
  • I ask for input from other educators.
  • I make changes to my teaching practices based on feedback from others.

And yet, every day, despite my best efforts, there’s always something I can do differently. I often drive home and think, “If only I …,” or “Tomorrow, I’m going to do … instead.” Thinking about what Hattie says, I want to be able to do more than “my best,” and I want to know that challenging myself to do more will benefit my students even more as as result. 

How do you set these high expectations for yourself and your students? How do you see “problems” not as failures, but as opportunities to improveI’d love to hear your thoughts!


6 thoughts on “I Want To Do More Than “My Best!”

  1. Wow what a thought provoking and inspiring article! I could not agree more and will certainly adopt these standards.

    • Thanks Kimberly! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. If we want our students to always strive for more, then shouldn’t we want this for ourselves as well?


  2. I think we can get caught up in feeling like we are never good enough. But that type of notion is counter-productive. It is not about whether we were “good” enough, it is about the impact we had on student learning. One thing Hattie stresses is that MOST teaching practices lead to improvement in student learning. So it is more about being a reflective practitioner open to trying new things and judging their impact. Some things we try have a better impact with students than others. At the end of the day, we reflect “Well, that went pretty well, they learned A, B, and C, but I’m not sure they were quite clear on why C was important. I wonder if I tried… if that would have an even greater impact?” It’s about always being open to new learning, about having a learning stance, but not about feeling inadequate. I’m not sure that makes sense, but sometimes I think that as teachers, we are too hard on ourselves.

    • Lorraine, I completely get what you’re saying here, and I’ve felt this before too. I guess that my thinking is that if we “feel like we’re always doing our best,” then is it easy to get caught up in thinking that we don’t need to make changes? If we always trying to challenge ourselves to do that little bit more, then do we reflect and refine more as well? I’m not sure. I do think that this reflection piece is key.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts here!

      • Aviva, one of the reasons I love reading your blog so much is because in each post, you make your learning clearly visible. If ever there was a teacher who had a learning stance, it was YOU! It is exciting to learn along with you virtually, especially this year as I’m not in a classroom right now. Thank you for always being so reflective; you are an awesome professional!

        • Thank you so much, Lorraine! Blogging really gives me a chance to reflect, and I like that. I look forward to blogging — not just because of what I get to share, but what I learn from others through their comments. Thanks for engaging in so many conversations here!


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