Keep Throwing Darts at the Dartboard

Keep Throwing Darts at the Dartboard

I recently viewed the A Plus condensed version of Will Ferrell’s commencement address to the graduating class of 2017 at USC: Ferrell’s charge to “keep throwing darts at the dartboard” resonates deeply with me.  This has been a challenging year, maybe the most challenging of my 16 years as a middle school science teacher.  I accepted a position at a new school in a new district.  I had three preps, none of which I had taught before, and I moved classrooms 4 times throughout the day (although this movement helped me gain a much better appreciation of how our students feel during their school days).  This year was hard.  It pushed me way outside of my comfort zone.  It was a year of steep, steep learning.  It was frustrating at times but it was also deeply rewarding.


I love teaching.  My passion is to create learning opportunities and environments where kids push their thinking, find and develop their strengths, are creative, think critically and discover and develop new ideas and understandings.  Creating this environment though is a messy process and requires constant revision and reflection, problem solving and risk taking.  The bullseye on my dartboard is student understanding. Here’s the thing though; the bullseye is on the move, it’s always changing, it’s constantly getting tweaked and sometimes it gets completely revised. The bullseye on my dartboard looks different with every new group of learners in August.  It is modified with every new learning objective that we are working towards.  It is adjusted based on the needs of every learner that walks through our classroom door.  The bullseye on my dartboard must be tweaked every day depending on what happened to each learner earlier that day, the night before, last month or years before.

Every time I throw a new dart at my dartboard, I aim for the bullseye but I know I’ll never quite get there. If I think I have, it’s probably time to do something else because I’ve lost sight of my target.  This is what makes teaching exciting and rewarding but hard.  This moving bullseye gives me the push to take risks and try new things. This year I threw lots of darts.  I completely missed a few times, especially in those first few months of the new year.  But I also think that I threw some darts that were pretty darn close to hitting their mark. Through all of this dart throwing, my student learners amazed me.  They were creators, they were problem solvers, they were risk takers, they were thinkers, they were learners.

I learned as much from my misses this year as I did from those darts that were creeping up on the bullseye.  As I close out my first year in my new school, I look forward to reflecting on what my student learners taught me this year.  I look forward to taking my learnings from this challenging year and recalibrating my aim for next year’s darts.  I look forward to the next school year when I will continue to ‘keep throwing darts at the dartboard”.

Photo Credits: DartboardDartboard with Darts

4 Replies to “Keep Throwing Darts at the Dartboard”

    1. The dart board analogy makes so much sense to me. So often, it’s about sticking with your guts and doing what you think is best for kids! Thanks for reading and participating GVSD Jags!

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