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.