I had several epiphanies today.
The first one: Happy sells.
When something looks organized, our teacher hearts smile as we let out a contented sigh. Pinterest makes many of us happy.
Puppies, leggings, chubby babies and cooking videos might do it for you in the same way as it does me! Who doesn’t love a cute baby?
Dancing teachers and students.
High engagement activities with students seeming to enjoy what they are doing…all these things make us HAPPY.
Here’s what doesn’t sell. Here’s what you can’t ‘profit from’.
The pain of immigrant students coming to school in crisis because they don’t know how much longer their parents can hide from ICE.
The pain of urban poor students who depend on the two meals they get at school and worry that they will be hungry while we are off at spring break.
Edu-professionals investing in their students to the detriment of their own families.
That’s another word that most people don’t want us discussing.
We don’t want to talk about who our president is, how he came to office, the things that he does, the people who he surrounds himself with. All of these things which double down on who he was as a candidate, rather than move to the more nuanced approach of a person who calls themselves President of the United States.
When teachers talk about these things, we are asked to stop. We are bringing down the mood. We are making social media ‘too heavy’.
Whether you are pro-life, feel that prayer should be more accessible in the public school, have a mistrust of Muslims…all these things are part of a religious ideology. We aren’t supposed to dig into the why behind the feelings and discuss them, because people get upset. Who wants to upset people?
As a reader of blogs, the choice is ultimately yours. People are not monolithic. They don’t always only read one thing, but when our teaching market is dominated by ‘happy, happy, happy’, it might be harder to find the folks that are teaching in reality.
There have been times throughout the years that I’ve received some level of push back for for my tone. And until recently, I couldn’t understand why some of us weren’t on the same page, which leads me to epiphany 2.
Second epiphany: I would rather be brave and scared…than fake it until I make it.
The honest truth about teaching is that NONE of us have it all together. We learn to be more put together after a long commitment to collaboration and community. We wont’ all ‘get there’ at the same time, but we are better together.
We grow as learners not when things are easy, but actually when there is a bit of a struggle.
No one wants to struggle. But some of us do. We really, truly do.
There is a beauty in that struggle. In the strain to get better for ourselves and our students.
Sometimes, we get tired, sometimes we have to take a break, but there is validity in discussing the why behind that fatigue and ultimate teacher burn out.
So, is it okay to be tired? To talk about it? To be mad about it?
I think yes.
There is a beauty in the journey that we each are taking, and that part of it, as tough as it is, is part of the journey. You can’t STAY in that posture, but who is to say how long you can grieve what you thought the school year would be? It’s all a part of a larger story for you.
So here’s what I propose.
I propose that we continue to speak with passion.
We as teachers, or even as teacher bloggers NEED to speak with passion about the realities of the classroom.
Sharing great ideas is fine, and should continue.
You know what else needs to continue?
1. Conversations on race.
2. The juxtaposition between politics and education policy.
3. Dialogue about the impact of the Trump presidency on refugee, migrant and Muslim students and families
4. Discussions on how to get not only growth but proficiency out of our most at risk learners
5. Sharing of content rich resources that relate to the needs of at risk learners over eye catching busy work projects that don’t link to learning
These are not easy conversations, but they are equally as relevant and necessary to growth as pinnable images of great teaching ideas.
This spring I am reading through the book ‘For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too’.
Here’s an interview with the author. I’m interested in Emdin’s idea of ‘reality pedagogy’. If you’re someone who teaches in an urban setting and you’re interested in seeing your kids grow, and have a need to connect with others of like mindset, I’d encourage you to read the book too. This spring, we are going to be jumping into some real talk, guys.
So, if you’re ready for that, stick around friends.