|image from icanread|
Yesterday I received the news that I am among 5 educators nominated for Elementary Teacher of the Year by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences, otherwise known as the Bammy Awards. Do you know who I told? My mom and my husband. I didn’t go next door to tell my teammates, I didn’t tweet it out until later when others had congratulated me. I only told my principal because I may take a day off to go to the ceremony. I certainly did not post it to Facebook. This huge moment in my short teaching life was not something I felt comfortable sharing with others because I was afraid that they may get upset. I was afraid of the negative reactions I was sure to get by telling others.
After witnessing the usual banter back and forth on Twitter about how we shouldn’t have awards for teachers or anyone within education because there are no winners, we are all winners, and no one should feel like they deserve recognition because it goes against what we stand for as educators, I felt completely deflated. We are so good at making each other feel bad. We are so good at feeling that our philosophy for education and educators should encompass everyone else. We are so good at taking moments that should be celebrated and turning them into moments of shame.
I grew up in a society marked by “Janteloven” which in essence means you are no better than anyone else. That you should never stick your head above the crowd or promote yourself. It squelched much creativity within my country, it squelched individualism, and pride in what people accomplished. You never dared tell others when you were recognized. Little did I know how similar the North American education society is to Danish society. How dare we be excited when we are recognized? How dare we tell others because if we tell others it must mean that we think we are better than them!
If I cannot stand up and be proud that the Global Read Aloud is getting recognition (because that is what led to my nomination) than what have we become? We have become no better than all of the politicians who swear we are the root of all of the problems in education. We are no better than the journalists that love sensationalizing whenever a teacher messes up. We are no better than the commentators who tell us to quit our whining and get a real job. We are no better than the teachers that sit in the teachers lounge and bash anyone who tries something new. If we continue to make each other feel bad whenever we should be celebrating we are no better than the people we fight.
There will never be enough awards to hand out to all of those that should get an award. There will never be enough recognition to give to everyone, but if we squelch the movements that are springing up to turn the tide of teacher bashing, then we are giving those who hate us a helping hand. There are many brilliant people in education, this is not about winning or losing, but instead finally saying that there are many people out there who do incredible things every day with what they have been giving. We should stand up and cheer every time someone gets recognized within the education community , not chastise them or make them feel as traitors to our mission. We are not fighting each other, we are fighting for our children. And I for one will applaud anyone ho gets any kind of positive recognition