assumptions, hopes, inspiration, personality, students, teaching, vision

Which Lens Do You View the World With?

We choose how we view the world, a line taken from an excellent post recounting a mother whose daughter has autism speaking to a group of MIT professors. Think about it for a moment, it is a quite deep sentence, we choose how we view to world…

Now flip that to your classroom, your school, your community; we also choose how we view these. Do we come to school with dark colored lenses where no matter what our students do, it is simply not good enough? Are our lenses wonky where we end up treating our students unequally? Is one eye closed to the world so we only see one side of the story? Or do we wear rose-colored lenses so that the world always seems bright and cheerful?

My lenses are clear, therein lies no fog. I view the world every day with a slight rosy tint to it but clear nonetheless. And more importantly, my lenses work both ways; they view the world and they view myself. I am always checking, readjusting and cleaning off my lens, so that whomever I encounter gets a clear view and not one tinted by perception. Is it time you clean your lenses?

being a teacher, believe, life choices, Passion, personality, teachers, teaching

They Call Me…

They call me Mrs. Ripp and I look around for my mother-in-law, oh wait, that’s me now

They call me mom and I smile a little and then laugh with them when they apologize

They call me “hey you” when they are in a hurry

Or “dude…” when they are steaming from their recess kickball game

They call me a force, whether good or bad, but always believing

They call me honest, to your face and very, very direct

They call me early-riser because I love coming to my classroom

They call me a believer because that is what I do

They call me passionate

They call me a difference maker

They call me a changer

Because I am a teacher

being a teacher, personality

Do We Dare to Show Ourselves?

The split personality syndrome; an affliction that most teachers suffer from.  We all have our “other”s sides that the students don’t see; maybe it is the side that has tattoos, that swears occassionally or that lives passionaltely for domething that society has not deemed 100% acceptable.  Whatever it is, we hide it, in order to be proper teachers.  Not because we are told but it is expected of us.  You see, being a teacher is not just a job; it’s a life.

I first remember when it happened to me.  Walking in as a practicum student, realizing the immense importance of my future job, and knowing that not all sides of my sparkling personality would see the light.  Not that there is some dark hidden life that I cannot confess to in the daylight, but rather those things we don’t speak of, those things we do not do in front of others.  At least if those others are fellow educators, parents, or students.  Taking those first steps into the building, shelving away part of my personality, inducted me into something special; the cult of teaching.

Teachers are pristine, angelic creatures that live passionately only for their students.  Society has put us on such a high pedestal that most of us struggle to even reach it, let alone remain on it.  We are not just role models for the students when it comes to being passionate learners, but also when it comes to how we live our life.  So we don’t swear (ever!), we certainly do not drink alcohol, smoke, have tattoos, go-go dance, or whatever it is that we do as part of our other life.  We keep it secret, speaking only of noble adventures and how they strengthen our pursuit to be the very best teacher we can be.

I know of very few other profession that puts such high moral demands on its participants and yet we are supposed to willingly accept it because we were the the ones that chose to be teachers.  No longer allowed to be fully human, we instead become caricatures of ourselves, always smiling, always perfect, never gritty or tarnished.  And of course, I agree that we shouldn’t swear, or drink alcohol or any of those things in front of our students, but we are allowed as adults to go out and have a drink and a dance on Saturday night without looking over our shoulder and worrying about who sees us.  And while I relish the fact that I am role model and take it very seriously, I have also found that students respond to us better when we let them in a little; show them a little of our true personality, warts and all. 

So I wonder when teachers will have their fall from grace?  When will society realize that the expectations to us as human beings are so ridiculously distorted that no one will want to even try to be that perfect.  Is this something we must just accept or is there a way to turn it around?  How do we continue on as educators but perhaps show ourselves as fully human?  How do we escape the cult of teaching, the personality we are expected to have, or do we not want to? 

being a teacher, emotions, honesty, personality

Yes, You Look Fat in Those Pants

I am an open book.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, smile to the world and rage directly at the people that need the rage.  I am driven by emotions both good and bad and have a very strong instinct that guides many decisions.  I was probably born this way but can also accredit this personality to my mother, who never backs down when it gets tough, who always speaks her mind, who is always honest.  I am the friend that will tell you that those pants make you look fat but I will also tell you when something you did was amazing.  I am that wife that tells their husband when they are whining but will also show genuine appreciation for taking the garbage out or buying gas station flowers (they are the best).  I am that teacher that will tell you how your actions upset me and then we will solve it together.  I wish I could say I do not carry a grudge, but I do, however my grudge list is very brief and I intend to keep it that way.

It is not easy being bold, or direct, or honest.  In fact, this society does not reward such behaviors but instead tells you to tone it down, think of who you are offending, or know your place.  Being Danish does not make it easier since it is a trait much-valued in my country and yet over here, it is almost entirely frowned upon.  The trouble I have gotten into because of my bluntness could fill the pages of a very long book, from being booted out of a wedding the week before, to almost being left behind in a Vegas casino, yes, I have made many mistakes.  And yet, I would not change who I am, at least not in a major way.

Yes, I am emotional but that is not a swear word.  Instead, I am exuberant, joyful, and overly optimistic – most of the time.  I am genuinely happy to see you, to meet you, to connect with you and if I am not, you will know.  If I care about you, I will reach out to you.  If I am interested, I will ask.  If you upset me, I will tell you and then try to solve it.  If you hurt me or there is a misunderstanding, I will come to you rather than my colleagues or friends.   I believe in honesty and it is my driving nature.  Sure I get into trouble, a lot of trouble, but I will not change it.  It is time we let our guards down and let the honesty out.  It is liberating to tell someone what you really are thinking as long as you weigh your words carefully.  But do not be afraid of yourself, your emotions, your instincts, after all, they are you.  Do not hide from your directness but embrace it; embrace yourself, and give yourself a chance.