Gratitude 011: Second Chances

One of the great benefits of a career in teaching is that you get to start fresh every September. The mistakes you made in the previous year can be washed away, as you begin a new journey with new students, smarter and wiser. I am grateful to get this opportunity year after year, as I know not everyone experiences this renewal in their careers.

I’m feeling gratitude for second chances afresh right now as I’m struggling through my first year of advising a 5th grade robotics club. I don’t get the chance to right my wrongs from this year’s club until summer, but I’ve certainly racked up a huge collection of missteps to correct. I’ve been focusing an awful lot on what I can and will do differently with next year’s cohort of young engineers, but I’ve realized that in turning too much attention to what I can do better next year, I’m squandering opportunities to improve right now. We still have a few more meetings to go, and while I can’t change some of the unfortunate decisions I’ve already made, I still have time to do my best with this group. It’s easy to say, “I’ll do better next time,” but I need to be saying, “I’ll do better now.” It’s hard to face your failures, own them, and keep plugging away, knowing the final product will still fall short of your standards. But I owe it to my students. After all, every new day is another chance to improve, and I’m grateful for that.

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