#EduroChallenge Day 5: Practice, not Mastery

The idea of practice, not mastery has been on my mind a lot these past few days…so it’s only fitting that its part of our #EduroChallenge. I first started really reflecting on this idea of practice, not mastery a few years ago when I started doing yoga. My wife and I had a deal. I would try it five times and after five times if I didn’t like it, I could quit. Well, after the fifth time I just kept going and the more I went the stronger I got, the more flexible I got and the better I felt. I’m now to the point that I can tell when I have not been doing yoga. My body lets me know.

What I love about yoga is it’s called your “Yoga Practice”. There is no mastery in yoga everyone in the room is practicing, getting better, pushing themselves and their bodies in ways that fill right to them that day and in that moment. I’m never going to master the perfect downward dog or crow…..but each day I practice I get a little better, a little stronger. Some days are harder than others, but you have to practice if you want to get better.

One thing I think we need to get better at is talking to students about practice and the importance of continuing to practice. We all look at our heroes and wish we could be like them. They make their craft, whether it be cooking, baseball, soccer, racing, football, etc look so easy. When we watch our heroes in action we get to watch hours upon hours of practice. None of them became the best at what they were over night…what you don’t see when you watch TV or a sporting event, are the hours of practice it took to get there.

I’ll often have people ask me how I went from classroom teacher to consultant to edupreneur. The answer…practice. I forget sometimes how long I have been doing this. Over 1000 blog posts here, over 100 podcasts there. A company here, here and here, and countless conversations, video chats, and trying stuff out in the classroom. I have been practicing this since 2000 and I’m still practicing it today. We call it the “Teaching Practice“. That’s what teaching should be…..we’re never going to master it. We’re always looking for new ways of reaching that child, or that child or trying this new strategy out. That’s what excites me the most about the Eduro Learning Micro-Credentials we’re launching. I get to help teacher practice, practice with them, and be a part of the journey.

My wife and god-daughter running along the Seattle waterfront

This all hit me again earlier this week when I was running. I’m always practicing when I run. I’m focused on my form, on the way my feet land. I know the only way I’m going to keep up with my wife (who out ran me the other day by a minute a mile) is by having better form. According to RunKeeper which I use to track my runs. I have logged 506 runs since I started using the app in 2008. That sounds like a lot of practice and it is. That is why us going for a 3-mile run is a short run, and a 6 mile is standard. That didn’t happen over night. I still remember thinking a mile was a long way, then two miles. Now running 3 miles is just what I do and running 6 is hard…but totally doable.

How do we instill the mindset in students that life is about practice, not mastery? That learning is about practicing and that practice will lead you to know more and practice more. How do we get to a place that practice means do, not try? Practice is what we do, not try to do.

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