I used to think I could change the world by force, by sheer persistence, and drilling my idea over and over. I used to blog that way too. If I just kept saying that my approach was correct others would finally be persuaded and realize the wrong in their ways and see the light of mine. 2 years ago a friend of mine kindly told me to stop being so harsh in the way I presented change. While at the time I wanted to scoff at the notion, me harsh? I am practically a teddy bear compared to some, I realized the right in his words. We do not change the world through sheer force, although persistence helps, we choose it by starting a conversation and choosing kind above anything else.
The last post I wrote, an open letter to an event I went to, came from that perspective. There were things that bothered me because it felt like a failure of execution, not vision, and I knew I had to write about it before the thoughts would leave me alone. My post was not meant to spark a negative debate about awards. My post was not meant to spark a mudslinging of fault, of tearing down of either side or people involved, and yet that happened. While I do not regret writing the post because it certainly started a debate, I do regret people tearing each other down.
Change comes from us when we are willing. Change comes when we feel safe in the direction we want to change. We may change under pressure or expectations but they will rarely be wholehearted or viewed in a permanent positive light. We must speak out for changes we want to see, but we must not make it personal.
When I push my students to grow and change I do it with kindness and persistence. I ask them to prove everybody wrong, I ask them to prove themselves wrong. I ask them to grow and to learn from this journey. So it is only fair I ask it of everyone else as well. Before we enter debates, choose kind. Choose open mindedness, choose the higher road. Choose to see both sides even if your heart lies on one of them. ask for a debate and proceed knowing that there are people with pride involved, people who have invested in what you want to change. People like ourselves who are only doing things because they believe in the good of them, not because they want to hurt others. It is time we, as adults, choose kind like our students and give others the respect they deserve. Even if we think they have the wrongest opinion of them all.
I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this fall from PLPress. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.