Below is an actual conversation I had with a teacher via messenger. Little did the teacher know that when she reached out, she would inspire me.
Teacher: Hello! I just wanted to say that your passion for what you do is exemplary. I chose to message you privately because I would like to ask you something: what do you do when people don’t get you or pull you down? Like, you are clearly an advocate of all kids, but in the real world, not all leaders are. I love teaching, but sometimes grown ups disappoint me. I go to work for the kids, but I’m always accused of “doing too much” or “making people look bad”. I just wanted to ask for your advice even though we don’t personally know each other. Thank you, Mrs. Hill!
Me: Awwww thank you! I think there will always be a few who look at passion as an annoying trait. I know there are some who don’t agree with the fact that I lead so transparently. I’ve been ridiculed for tweeting too much, for sharing on social media too much,etc. It’s just part of what helps me thrive as an educator. I take a lot from my PLN—my Network is my rock for inspiration and growth. When I give back to the people in my network, it fuels me forward. I’ve even been accused of self promotion, that I share so much to get attention! It makes me laugh a little on the inside when others think that, because I know they just don’t see the whole picture of my WHY. I don’t blame them, because they just don’t know and feel what I know and feel. All I can do is try to influence in a positive way. If you are discouraged from doing something awesome for kids, for your school, and for the profession because it will make others look bad, DO IT ANYWAY. Educators shouldn’t compete, they should collaborate. Anything less than that is an insult to our profession. Don’t give up on those who don’t get it, but don’t let them keep you from doing the absolute best things you can for our kids. That’s the educator’s oath, after all. :)️
Teacher: Wow! I appreciate you! “Do it anyway!” You seriously made me cry! I need your words of wisdom. Thank you so much!
Me: I hope it helps a little! It’s hard to be the lone nut, but it can pay off in a big way for kids and families. It may make adults uncomfortable, but it will provide peace in your heart because you know you’re doing the absolute best you can.
Teacher: It helps a lot! I feel better now. My husband always reminds me my why when I feel down. It was so nice to hear it from someone who loves her job, and it actually shows. Thanks again!
I recently had this virtual conversation with a teacher I have never met face to face. She reached out to me, asking for advice about how to handle negativity and judgement when she does new or innovative things. My heart hurt when I read her initial message, and I immediately began to respond with words of encouragement. Although I was focused intently on supporting this teacher, I grew more angry as I typed my words to her. I thought to myself,
How can anyone in our profession make a colleague feel guilty or threatened because of wanting to do more and be more for kids?
Really?????? (insert red faced emoji)
When I hit the send button after a long “Girl, You’ve Got This!” message, I began to reflect on my own journey. It was then that I had an epiphany. I began recalling moments when I had been teased for being too “Twittery”, or judged for posting too many selfies with kids (or just myself!). I have been told in the past that people think it is self promotion to post quotes, blogs, and pictures, and that I was being judged heavily for it. I’ve been questioned for sharing too much, and for abusing social media to brag on accompishments.
Do those accusations hurt? Absolutely.
Do the people who judge make me question what I do? In the past, yes.
Do the negative assumptions make me question my WHY behind what I do? NEVER.
There will always be people who challenge our beliefs and our passions, and the epihany I had was that we need these people! They help strengthen our values, our core beliefs, our WHY. They make us stronger. They provide a path of influence. They give us opportunities to inspire. We need the naysayers.
Shame on the educators who ridicule someone for wanting to be better for kids. They need to be corrected, and they need someone to have higher expectations for them. They need to be held accountable, and they need support to build their confidence. They need to know that they can try new things and be innovative. They need to know that they should collaborate with other educators, not compete with them. They need us just as much as we need them.
If you happen to work with or for someone who makes you feel hesitant to try new things, or discourages you from being a little different, remember your calling. Remember who you are here for. Remember the faces of the children who count on you to engage them and inspire them. Remember the families of those children who are trusting you with their greatest treasure. Listen to your heart, because it will speak to you in a louder voice than that of the discourager.
Do what’s best for kids. Always. It’s okay to disrupt if it means we can make an even bigger difference.