I’m not a perfect teacher. Dare I say.

I want to say that right off the bat. I am a great teacher, but I am not a perfect one. Too often, teachers get caught up in trying to be perfect, when this is simply impossible. Just as no one can be a perfect person who never makes mistakes, no one can be a perfect teacher. But this is not a bad thing! In fact, embracing this reality has made me a much better teacher. Here are a few of the things I learned when I stopped trying to be perfect.

You Can’t Please Everyone

The number one problem with trying to be perfect is that everyone has a different definition of what “perfect” means. To you it might mean being early for class every day, coming up with lessons that make every single student in the class laugh and be engaged, and always looking your best as you stand in front of that blackboard. Other teachers might think that being perfect means maintaining an air of authority and seriousness and having students that are 100 percent well-behaved all the time.

Even parents and principals have different ideas of what a perfect teacher should be. Some don’t like jokes in the classroom, others think that a teacher who doesn’t tell jokes is not engaging enough. Some think that the teacher should push the students harder, others think they are being pushed too hard. And don’t even get me started on the students’ opinions!

Just like in the rest of life, you can’t please everyone, that is just not possible. There will always be someone who has a different idea of perfection, and it isn’t your job to cater to them.

Putting Too Much Pressure on Yourself Makes Things Worse

Stress can be a good motivator. It can push you to plan ahead for things that could go wrong, and to try harder to achieve your goals. Unfortunately, though, stress can be more harmful than it is helpful. According to reports, teachers have similar stress levels as nurses, as these are both very demanding jobs where one must be in control of themselves and their environment at all times. Over time, this stress can lead to health problems – both physical and mental – which can lead to a teacher calling in sick more and more often or teacher burnout.

It can also lead to poor performance in the classroom. Perfectionism is a classic sign of many anxiety disorders, and trying to be perfect puts a huge amount of stress on a person. Paradoxically, this intense desire to be perfect at all times actually leads to the person making more mistakes during the course of the day. And worse – it can quickly lead to burnout and a fading of your original passion for teaching. Work becomes an arduous task, a play in which you cannot mess up any lines, and you forget that you love teaching and making a difference in children’s lives.

So What Can I Do About It?

According to WeAreTeachers.com, the best way to solve the perfection problem is to accept that you are not perfect, and instead strive to be great instead. Don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle. Don’t feel that you have to take every single opportunity that is handed to you. Take time during the day to relax and recharge during your planning period or while the students are at recess. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to get a perfect score on your yearly review from the administration – you don’t have to get the top marks to be valuable to the school and students.

Most of all, though, the person who has to value you is you. I do my best every day so that I can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment – not a feeling of perfection. If you feel happy and fulfilled and like you are engaging with your students, that is pretty close to perfect in and of itself, isn’t it?