Progress over pace

To what standard do I and should I hold myself to concerning my own learning? Do I seek and highlight my own bright spots as I do for my learners? Hmm… What assumptions do my colleagues and I make about our learning as members of our school? We are learners too. Do we see each other and ourselves as learners? Do we treat each other and ourselves with the same care, kindness, and respect that we give to our young learners?  How often do we affirm the learning of our colleagues? ourselves?

The following is a copy of a note I sent to our faculty today to hopefully remind us all that we are learners.  We celebrate learning progress! It is not about how fast learning occurs or how my learning compares to another’s.

A few of you know that I am running.  On May 20, 2012 I started a 14-week running program to train for a 10K.  I am currently working through week 11 of the training program. (Note: May 20th was more than 14 weeks ago, many more.) Here’s the graph of my run this morning:

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 8.42.30 AM

After my warm-up walk, I ran for 25 minutes, walked for 5 minutes, and ran another 15 minutes.  The green in the graph above shows my run, which is really a slow, plodding jog, and the red shows my walks.

To reflect on my progress, I picked a day close to the start of our faculty pre-planning. Here is the graph from my run on August 6, 2012:

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 8.42.02 AM

I still cannot run a 10K, but look at my progress!  Yes, it is taking me longer than “normal,” and I am struggling to improve.  Progress is progress.  It is not about how I compare to Brian or Erin.  It is about my personal growth.  Often, I am discouraged by what I cannot do, but holy cow, look at what I can do today that I absolutely could not do in August.

As I left yesterday afternoon, Jeff M. caught me to tell me, once again – ‘cause he does it often – about the progress and growth of our community with regard to technology.  In our conversation he repeatedly praised our community members’ work, effort, and learning.  He sees lots of bright spots in your work.

Learning is about progress not pace.


  1. I like how you use illustrations from your life and relate them to learning. What a great tool Nike ID is. It allows you to take a step back and reflect on your running progress. It is difficult to do that in the classroom. You see the kids everyday, progress tends to be gradual. What tools do we have available that would allow us to take a step back and reflect on the progress we are making with our students? With our own learning?

    Getting excited about the small victories we have in the classroom is a start. One of the teachers I have worked with just shared this with me, ” I picked up your habit of saying “Good question” or “Great question”. And I started noticing something: They smile every time they hear it. This really works well with 8th graders. And their questions are getting better.”. Learning is about progress not pace. I love that statement!

    -the other Jeff M.


  2. Thanks for your comment, Jeff. I think it is so important to focus on progress. How often, as you say, do we miss growth because we are comparing today to yesterday? Reflection is an important tool in our learning.

    I love that your colleagues are catching on to your methodology. Keep celebrating those bright spots!


  3. I love the message of your post. I know that all of the positive messages and videos have really helped me to improve and change my mindset. I can often get caught up in the negativity of everything and about all of the things that I “can’t do”. However, more recently I have been really trying to reflect on the growth I have made, even if it is slow. I appreciate the fact that “they”(them) are seeing the growth in our community. The challenge is still to get everyone else that are down here in the trenches to see their own progress! All we can do is continue to take those baby steps and hope that they will see their own growth.


    • LOVE your comment, Michelle. Thanks! What a great reflection of progress made in disposition, mindset, and attitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I appreciate your leadership “in the trenches” to take big steps in learning and stretching. I value your partnership to lead learning in our community. Brava!


  4. Nice, subtle, and gentle reminder of not having to be a master at every task that we take on…we need to remind ourselves that proficiency comes with practice and time. We definitely don’t expect that of our students and can’t expect that from the adults in our community either.


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