You’ve probably heard the saying “Practice makes perfect.” While the sentiment is nice, I believe it to be completely inaccurate.
I wrote a post last year on preparation and how I was preparing to take over for student teaching. I mentioned this quote then, but I’ll mention it now too: “You practice how you perform.” If you’re practicing wrong, you’re going to do it wrong when it comes time to perform.
I’ve heard a couple quotes that I think say it better than simply “Practice makes perfect.” The first one is “Practice makes habit.” The way you practice something is the way you’re going to do it. So if you don’t practice it perfectly, then you won’t do it perfectly.
Similarly, the second quote I like better is “Perfect practice makes perfect.” If you practice it well, you’ll have no issues performing it that same way. The only way to do something perfectly is to do it right in your practice.
I used to compete in speech in high school. When I was first starting out, I was made to stand in the opposite corner of the room from my coach to then be able to project my voice. Now that I’m a teacher, I have no problem being heard from any point in my classroom, and my classroom is pretty large. (And no, I didn’t plan on becoming a teacher while I was in speech for the most part.)
This whole thought is why cramming for a test or something usually doesn’t work. You overload your brain rather than working thoroughly and practicing right.
I’m not a good teacher just because. I’m a good teacher because I’ve had a lot of practice. It started out with just presentations, which then became lessons, which then turned into practical experience in both a middle and high school, which then turned into student teaching, which finally became my profession. I’ve had a lot of practice to get me where I currently am.
And even with all this practice, I didn’t start out the best last year. I’ve had to work on making class more interesting and more engaging. Truth be told, I’m still working on it. But I was able to practice it and change up some of the activities a little bit. We started out this year doing a decent amount of simple answer worksheets, and while my kids still do worksheets now and then, I’m putting in more critical thinking questions and primary source images and making history more pertinent than just plain worksheets.
Most things worth having take time. If you’re practicing something, make sure you practice it correctly. How you practice is how you’re going to do it. It’s easier to practice well than it is to break a bad habit.