When I was a second year teacher I was told to know my place. To remember that although I might have a voice, I should be more careful. That I should not ask so many questions, nor share quite so many ideas. That some things would be better left unsaid because I had not earned the right to say them. And not just told it either. No, for extra emphasis it was written as part of my official evaluation that year. In my permanent record lest I ever forget that I had a place to be in. That the place I needed to be in was one of new teacher that followed most of the rules and certainly did not question so much.
I remember I went back to my classroom shell-shocked. When I closed the door, I cried. Maybe this teaching thing was not for me after all. Maybe asking questions was wrong. It certainly seemed that way.
So I took the lesson to heart; I shut my door, metaphorically and literally. I had to. I could not face what some others saw me as; a know-it-all new teacher that thought she had such great ideas. I skittered through the rest of the year watching every single word I spoke, always telling myself to just stay quiet, think it but not say it. To hide the new. To not share. After all, I needed to stay in my place, whatever that place might be.
By the end of the year I wanted to quit. It turns out that eating your own words leaves you hollow after awhile. But I didn’t, instead I changed, and as they say; the rest is history.
So for the past 6 years I have carried those words with me. I have known my place every single step of the way. Never forgetting that I do have a place in this world, in education. Never forgetting that, really, we all have a place if we only knew where.
So what I know now is that my place is with my students asking them what I can change. To realize that I am not a perfect teacher, nor do I have all of the answers, but that I will spend every ounce of energy I have to try to make it better for them.
That my place is among colleagues who push my thinking and always have what’s best for kids in mind. That while we may not always agree, we always respect, we always have each other’s back even when we have to have tough conversations.
That my place is on this blog sharing how I screw up so that others may learn from it without having to experience it.
Among the teachers that feel alone, much like I did so many days as I tried to change myself.
Among the people who question and show up every day trying make themselves better because they know they have a long way to go.
Among those that still doubt but try any way.
Among those that dare to dream.
Among those that still cry when it hurts.
Among those that know that even a small change makes a difference.
Those that change.
Those that question.
Those that fight.
6 years ago I was told to know my place and so I went looking for it. It was not pretty. I was not perfect. I was not always right. I did not always know what I needed to know. Yet within that quest, I found myself. So I ask today; do you know your place? Because if not, you should probably search for it some day.
If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.