Shipped is Better Than Perfect

Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes — but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work. — Elizabeth Gilbert

Middle school life is awesome.

There is so much hope at this age. So much optimism. So much willingness to try new things, to push the boundaries of what is expected, to create humor and fun at every turn.

Yet there are also subversive forces at work. Quiet fears and anxieties plague our teens as much as they do adults — sometimes even more so.

Problems with One Word 2020

The collection of OneWords pictured above gives me joy, yet it also gives me cause for concern.

I shot this picture one week after introducing the One Word idea to my eighth graders in 2020 and getting them started on what I thought could be a fun activity of self-expression, identity, and vision for the future.

One week. At least two separate blocks were set aside to work on these — maybe three. And here I was, looking at 16 completed pieces out of 28.

A week and a half later, the picture had improved a little. I now had 21 completed OneWords on the wall.

But that was still 25% missing — ten days after introducing the activity.

What was going on?

The Trap of Perfectionism

I talked to one of my missing seven about it. He was sheepish, freely admitting that this little art activity could and should have been finished by now.

“I don’t like mine,” he explained matter-of-factly. “I want to start it again.”

At a glance, it’s an admirable sentiment, isn’t it? High standards. The pursuit of excellence. The commitment to improvement. The idea that one is demanding better of themselves.

As committed professionals, we can empathize, because we’ve had those same thoughts as well.

But there’s a fatal problem, because perfectionism can kill production.

Those noble intentions of improvement and further iterations can be lost to the sands of time. Days turn quickly into weeks. New learning activities come and go.

And the One Word, the essay, the video project, the whatever-has-to-be-perfect … doesn’t get finished at all.

Shipped is Better Than Perfect

For some of our learners, we desperately need to see more effort. More thought and care. More attention to details. More personal investment.

We know that as they increase their commitment to the process, their learning will grow.

Those students are not the ones I’m concerned with here.

The ones I’m concerned with are capable of completing the task and meeting the learning target. But they hold such high expectations of themselves that their perfectionism becomes their prison. Fears of missing the mark — their own mark, mind you — hold them back from trying.

I think it was Seth Godin who first observed that shipped is better than perfect.

The idea being that as long as a product is sitting somewhere being thought about, dreamed about, improved upon, held onto because “it’s not ready yet” … it has no relevance in the world.

The finished product — whatever form it takes — may have its flaws. It may be criticized or judged. It may be rejected.

But at least it’s out there.

Engage the Gears of Momentum and Improvement

And once the work is out there, the gears of creative production become engaged. The iterative process gains traction. And the journey of growth and improvement becomes inevitable.

So it is with blogging. And vlogging. And podcasting.

All of these creative endeavors get uncomfortable. I have thoughts of regret and humiliation almost every time I hit publish, because nine times out of ten I am keenly aware of how the work could have been done better.

But I continue to ship, and ship, and ship, because I know that as I do, as I gain more reps, the confidence and mastery will come with time.

This is the all-important lesson I want to share with my students.

There comes a time when you must hit publish. When you must submit the work. When you must hand in the essay. When you must move on.

It may not be perfect. But it’s out there. It can be consumed by others. It’s in the conversation.

And it’s for that reason that shipped is better — way, way better — than perfect.

sketch pad and coloring pens

Reimagining Professional Learning: Where can we go from here?

Reimagining Professional Learning

In this edition of the Roundtable, host Tim Cavey connects with educators who are passionate about improving the shape of professional learning: Mark Ryan, Vince Bustamante, Min Suh, Kate Stevens, and Jeffery Frieden. We discuss best practices for most powerful professional learning, asynchronous tools, how to capture in-house expertise, gamification, and more.

Select any of the timestamps listed below to jump to specific portions of the discussion. ⬇️

Questions and Timestamps from This Conversation

  • 0:26 – Meeting the panel: who are you and what is your CURRENT CONTEXT in education?
  • 2:11 – What was one feature of some of the BEST professional development that you’ve experienced?
  • 7:01 – “This meeting could have been an email.” What are some ASYNCHRONOUS tools and strategies that might make professional learning more efficient and valuable?
  • 14:41 – How can asynchronous tools also redefine FACULTY MEETING TIMES in order to do less administrivia and more professional learning?
  • 23:31 – Does GAMIFICATION belong in professional development? Can points, badges, or competitions improve engagement, motivation, or learning for professionals?
  • 33:57 – How can schools and districts to a better job of leveraging IN-HOUSE expertise and resources? What can this look like?
  • 50:31 – What is one PROJECT that you’re working on right now?
  • 55:15 – What are the best ways to CONNECT and continue to learn with you?

Connect with These Inspiring Education Leaders on Twitter

Listen to the Audio-Only Podcast Episode on Spotify

Catch the Next Teachers on Fire Roundtable LIVE

As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific/11:00 a.m. Eastern. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

Connect with Teachers on Fire

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire Podcast on Your Mobile Device

Dr. Francois Naude: Content Creation, Growth Mindset, and Building Excellence in Educators

Dr. Francois Naude

Who is Dr. Francois Naude?

Dr. Francois Naude is an award-winning teacher, education engineer, co-founder of the Work Integrated Learning tracker, speaker, presenter, author, podcaster, consultant, mentor, entrepreneur, and Crossfit fan. Catch regular content from this former South African teacher of the year on his podcast and YouTube channel, both called Super Teachers Unite.

Questions, Topics, and YouTube Timestamps

  • 5:18 – It’s story time! Please share with us about a low moment or an experience of adversity that you’ve faced in your teaching or education career, and describe how you overcame it.
  • 11:53 – Francois, I want to start this conversation with Super Teacher. You’ve built your brand, YouTube channel, and podcast around this term. So here’s the all-important question: In your opinion, what defines a super teacher?
  • 15:55 – You and I have shared some good conversations around content creation in the education space. We both enjoy sharing ideas through podcasts, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In your view, is content creation and networking a good move for every educator?
  • 19:18 – As you look across your PLN and your own professional practice, what else is setting you on fire about education today?
  • 22:37 – How are you looking to grow professionally and improve your practice right now? Can you share about a specific professional goal or project that you’re currently working on?
  • 24:34 – Outside of education, what’s another area of learning for you? What is it that ignites your passions outside of the classroom and brings you alive as a human being? Tell us why this area interests you and why you enjoy it.
  • 25:45 – Share about one personal habit or productivity hack that contributes to your success.

Voices and Resources That Spark Francois’ Thinking

Follow Francois

Connect with Teachers on Fire

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device

Song Track Credits

  • Sunrise Drive by South London Hifi*
  • Anthem by The Grand Affair*
  • Roots of Legend by Density & Time
  • Memory Rain by Yung Logos
  • *tracks courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library

Listen to This Episode on YouTube

Chey & Pav and The Staffroom Podcast

Chey & Pav

In this edition of the Roundtable, host Tim Cavey connects with the well-loved Chey Cheney and Pav Wander, co-hosts of The Staffroom Podcast and The Drive with Chey & Pav.

Select any of the timestamps listed below to jump to specific portions of the discussion. ⬇️

Questions and Timestamps from This Conversation

  • 2:35 – Who is Chey Cheney?
  • 4:26 – Who is Pav Wander?
  • 7:55 – We just marked a pandemic anniversary. What has teaching been like for Ontario teachers over this past year, and what’s one of your takeaways?
  • 17:22 – How do you respond to teachers who say their tank is empty and their fire for learning is low right now?
  • 26:51 – Between the Staffroom Podcast, the Drive, School Rubric, and other appearances, what’s one thing that content creation has done for you as a professional?
  • 35:51 – Your content mixes thoughtful reflection, insights, passion, artistry, and humour in ways that resonate powerfully with teachers. Was that a calculated strategy or do you feel like that’s just been a natural expression from day one?
  • 47:11What’s next for Chey and Pav?
  • 54:21 – What are the best ways for us to connect with you?

Connect with These Inspiring Education Leaders on Twitter

Listen to the Audio-Only Podcast Episode on Spotify

Catch the Next Teachers on Fire Roundtable LIVE

As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific/11:00 a.m. Eastern. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

Connect with Teachers on Fire

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire Podcast on Your Mobile Device

Mike Washburn: Minecraft, Livestreaming, and Reimagined Professional Learning

Mike Washburn

Who is Mike Washburn?

MIKE WASHBURN is a Microsoft in Education expert, the Director of Engagement at @Participate, co-host of the fabulous @OnEducationPod, and the co-founder of the @OnPodcastMedia podcast network. When you visit Mike’s website you encounter this phrase: Passionately Educating, Constantly Learning – and that really summarizes Mike’s whole attitude and approach to education.

Questions, Topics, and YouTube Timestamps

  • 7:40 – It’s story time! Please share with us about a low moment or an experience of adversity that you’ve faced in your teaching or education career, and describe how you overcame it.
  • 16:39 – Congratulations on your new position at Participate! Can you talk about the mission and vision of Participate and describe your role in moving that forward?
  • 23:05 – Another fun project that you’ve been working on lately is the official podcast for Minecraft Education. Tell us what you love about the Minecraft platform and the opportunities that it presents learners.
  • 32:47 – One of the reasons I love OnEducation is that you and Glen don’t run your thoughts through any sort of political filter. You tell it like it is, and sometimes that means holding politicians, education companies, textbooks, or personalities to the fire. In the age of political correctness where just about the worst thing we can do is offend another person or educator, talk about the importance of bringing critical thinking to the education conversation.
  • 38:53 – As you look across your PLN and your own practice, what else is setting you ON FIRE about education today?
  • 41:24 – Where do you see professional learning moving and evolving in the years to come?
  • 44:43 – Outside of education, what’s another area of learning for you? What is it that ignites your passions outside of the classroom and brings you alive as a human being? Tell us why this area interests you and why you enjoy it.
  • 47:07 – Share about one personal habit or productivity hack that contributes to your success.

Voices and Resources That Spark Mike’s Thinking

Follow Mike

Connect with Teachers on Fire

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device

Song Track Credits

  • Sunrise Drive by South London Hifi*
  • Anthem by The Grand Affair*
  • Roots of Legend by Density & Time
  • Memory Rain by Yung Logos
  • *tracks courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library

Listen to This Episode on YouTube