Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Committed vs Compelled

     I am participating in the  
     March Slice of Life Challenge
     Each day we post our thoughts. 
     Thank you, Two Writing Teachers

     Day 8 - Committed vs. Compelled

I used to think that "committed" was a pretty strong word. I thought committment brought focus and strength to the task. Throughout my life I have been committed to many things. One year, I was committed to participating in the Slice of Life Challenge but that didn't go so well. A post or two was all I could muster.

Over the years, I have been committed to doing many things...

     becoming a better cook (yes, I have collected a treasure of recipes on Pinterest),
     raising flowers and plants (I actually have become quite good at it),
     being craftier (I am good at making homemade Christmas ornaments and baby afghans),
     and exercising (I am embarrassed to admit how many exercise videos are saved to my computer).

So, I got pretty good at collecting things around my commitments. I have been thinking that I can be committed to being a better cook, but if I don't make my way into the kitchen and try some new recipes, I am simple committed to the "idea" of being a good cook.

I have collected a zillion workout videos on my computer (yes, I have), but if I don't get off the couch and actually try them out, I am not getting healthier or thinner. I am simply committed to the "idea" of exercising and getting healthier. (I am getting much better at this as I work out at the gym and do some workouts on my own at home.)

As a teacher, I was a bit different. Yes, I collected articles and read professional books. I collected things around my commitment to teach well. I participated in professional development and attended workshops on improving instruction.

But being committed wasn't enough. I think I was compelled to do more. I tried new strategies in the classroom. I improved the design of my classroom and our classroom library. I tried to improve my conferring skills. I worked hard at developing relationships with my students. I reflected on my teaching and was determined to make it better. I did some "self-propelled" professional development by connecting with other educators and observing others teach.

What was the difference? Being compelled denoted an action. It wasn't enough to just collect the things around my commitments. I had to act. I am very committed to my beliefs about learning and teaching, but unless I act I am merely committed and not really compelled to improve. I truly believe that being committed to a vision of successful learning is critical. But so is being compelled to do something about it. I am compelled to think, reflect, take action, change something.

And what does that mean for our work with children? 
Are we committed or compelled?


  1. This is an interesting and valid distinction - compelled somehow seems to come from deep within us,
    and therefore more lasting.

  2. Love this Karen - so thoughtful. I never thought about the difference. I am not sure I really think of myself as either committed or compelled.... I have lots of goals and things I am working on but being a mom and working seems to take up most of my space. I agree as a profession we need to take more action on things. Even vision statements tend to just get created and then lost. What compels us? Great question for a faculty.

  3. I love this! I often say I like things in theory (exercising, cleaning my house, doing certain crafty things) but in reality... I think your distinction here is far more thoughtful and more useful as I consider what I am compelled to do. Thank you for this. I'm so glad the SOL challenge has you writing so much!

  4. I love the concepts of committed and compelled. First of all, I love the difference between being committed to the idea of something versus being committed to an action. (and I am so glad your exercise is going well now!)
    Compelled - that does have a different feeling. Does it mean motivated? Does it mean I-just-can't-help-myself-I-have-to-do-it? Great question for reflection!

  5. I like your distinction between committed and compelled. I find that, like you, there is not always enough action behind my commitments. On another note, do you have a workout video that you've come to love enough to recommend?

  6. Kim, Thank you for your comment. I started with a 21 Day Fix video from Beachbody but I have made more progress going to the gym and working with a trainer. Feel free to connect with me on Facebook if you have other questions.

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