being a teacher, being me, communication, contest

We Are Only Human, Why Do We Forget That?

Being a blogger, a teacher, a person who exposes themselves to the world through their words and actions, our personalities sometimes get distorted.  We get boxed in, labeled, or categorized in some way, all so that others can get a better handle on who we are and what we stand for.

Strangers decide whether they like us or not on small acts, on assumptions that they create, on things we say, write, do and then spread that like or dislike to others, forever judging us based on perhaps one blog post, one idea of what we are, or some distorted image.  And sometimes others forget that we are humans too.  Parents send angry emails based on an assumption, anonymous commenters attack rather than discuss, and sometimes people you consider to be part of your support network drop you like you were yesterday’s news.  And it hurts, and our blogging, or our teaching interferes with the emotions we bring home and into our homes.  Our personal relationships suffer because of what happens outside of us, outside of our own realm of control, and we wonder why we put ourselves out there?

This school year, I was a top 10 finalist in a contest for good teachers.  While I had nothing to do with my own nomination, I used it as a way to show that having a non-traditional classroom in a public school setting was indeed possible.  And yet, no matter how noble my intentions,  the contest proved to be detrimental to me as an educator and as a person.  I said yes to continue on in the contest because if I won, I could get $10,000 and use it for something at my school; a new gym floor, working computers, more books.  And that was something bigger than me.  I knew there would be backlash but the magnitude of it still astounded me.  People who I thought would understand, perhaps not support, but understand, berated and tore me to shreds.  Educators whom I admire in my PLN decided that they would no longer follow me or have conversations with me, teachers whom I admire thought I did it as a way to show off, to elevate myself above the rest.  And it hurt.  And it confounded.  And even though you try not to take it personal, you do, because it is.  And even though you try to pick up the pieces, they just never fit back together the same way.  The people are gone, the communication is gone, the care is gone.

So I learned my lesson, don’t think you are anything special – perfect for a product of Janteloven – because others will disagree.  Others will tear you down.  How sad, how utterly contrary to what we stand for as educators, how eye opening.  And yet, I continue to congratulate others, to be excited about their success and I remind myself whenever I see someone within my realm of the world; whether global PLN or local community, that is being recognized that I should cheer for them.  That I should be happy whenever an educator is recognized for something good rather than some evil they have done.We are all just human, and words hurt more than we know, we should be each others biggest cheerleaders, there are enough people trying to tear us all down.

8 thoughts on “We Are Only Human, Why Do We Forget That?”

  1. For what it's worth, one of the reasons I continue to follow you is because of the magic I saw in your video submissions for that contest. You are an inspiration to this teacher all the way in NC. Keep doing what you do!

  2. Just keep doing what you’re doing and let your positivity shine through! You are a role model, and you can only do what you can do – and you do everything for the kids, not anyone else. Keep it up! And Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. I have been teaching for 12 years and I truly feel that teaching is a vocation. That said, when I stumbled upon your blog(s), I recognized another educator who was commited to, and consumed by, the desire to do more than teach – the desire to reach. When I've read about your initiatives, they make me pause and reflect upon my own teaching. "How can I use this in my practice?". Despite everything, Know that you inspire some of us to be better than we are. Please don't let them make you less.

  4. It's sad that some people are so insecure they cannot be happy for the success of others. Just remember that it's their issue and not yours!I missed your session on giving the classroom back to the kids on Saturday. I tried to go the fourth session, but I guess it had already taken place. I would have loved to have chatted with you.

  5. I'm sorry that you've had to go through such a bad situation. I don't think there's anything wrong with recognizing someone for doing good. It's a shame people can be so petty. I think the backlash was so harh because you are in the circle of the no grading movement, which in its extreme form, seeks to eliminate any form of competition altogether. One of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much is because your perspective is so balanced. I don't think anything in teaching works when taken to extremes (at least not in the public system) because we are teaching real human beings in the real world and all the ifs ands or buts that come with it. I appreciate how you maintain your integrity while being realistic in your approach.

  6. I am a mature new teacher and I have to say that I am appalled at the system I know find myself in. I have worked so many places over my life span and am a late entry to education but I can honestly say that I have NEVER encountered so many people jumping to hurt their colleagues. Ready to point the finger, ready to shun them and talk behind their back. Frankly it has really got me thinking about changing professions even though I am only starting. In my first year I have been accused of being unprofessional with another teacher because I talked to them and said I did not agree. Well the union got involved and I was told to keep my mouth shut. I then was in trouble because I appropriately questioned my child's teacher about something I did not agree with as a parent. Again I was reprimanded because how dare I question a teacher! I was also verbally and emotionally attacked by the teacher I took over her position for this year. She did everything in her power to discredit me as a teacher and a professional. It has not been a great year.But also in this year I have been nominated as a First year teacher of the year. I have been asked to present at professional development to my colleagues. I have a portfolio of letters from parents and students thanking me for an amazing year. One parent even wrote that I was the first teacher to see what her child has to offer before I saw what he was lacking. My parents/kids really want me in the school system but the people who hire are not sure I would be "a good team player'. Am I good team player? Absolutely. But will I question and look for alternatives? Absolutely. I always treat people with respect but I refuse to be bullied and will stand up for myself. But even now, even after saying all I have said I am still afraid to post this with my name attached in case someone somewhere reads it and holds it against me professionally. I ADMIRE YOU!!!! There is a song by Taylor Swift that says "people throw rocks at things that shine" KEEP SHINING!!!!!

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