Recently, a Twitter Storm occurred instigated by a picture of a "bad assignment" and I have thought about it too much not to say anything at all.
To quote Frank Costanza, "I've got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're going to hear about it."
I've noticed a trend I've come to think of as Viral Complaints. An EdTech superstar hates Interactive Flat Panels, or Google, or Microsoft, or ______. I'm not a big fan of worksheets. But all these "things" are not the people or professionals who use them, or defining education as we know it, or all good or all bad no matter how you view them.
There are a lot of complexities and subtleties that can never be expressed in a social media post and you are not beholden to explain yourself to a person on Twitter who LITERALLY doesn't know your life.
Being a teacher is the hardest job I've ever had in my life. Today, I run a company. I don't have a business degree or any background in business short of what I've gained in the years building friEdTechnology. I do things all day long every day that I don't initially know how to do; people's livelihoods depend on my decision making, and that's a lot or pressure, but it's nothing . . . NOTHING. . . compared to the responsibility I felt as a teacher.
Teaching is hard for many reasons. I did a lot "wrong" when I was a teacher. If I could go back, I could do so much better IF we only counted on the knowledge I've gained since I left the classroom, but there's a lot more to being a "good" teacher than knowing how to appropriately present the curriculum. So much depends on your personal stores of emotional and intellectual energy, what's going on in your life outside school, your health and wellness, mental and physical, and what resources your students themselves bring with them every day into the classroom, over which you have ZERO control.
There is no profession like teaching. What other job can you think of where you see a "customer" ten years later and they remember a single sentence you said to them on a single day that they have never and will never forget? Whether it was cruel or kind, they remember, and everything you say and do becomes a part of that person forever. I don't care what multinational, multi-billion dollar conglomerate you're in charge of, there IS NO RESPONSIBILITY, PRESSURE, or STRESS like being a teacher who cares.
Now as a "Teacher of Teachers," I feel the magnitude of our role as a company and my role as an individual to be a voice of positivity, support, and good in the lives of teachers. Yesterday, three members of our team worked all day long with the amazing Librarians and Professional Development Support Staff of Ysleta ISD in El Paso, Texas. While I was working with this team of professionals, my mind was 10% considering the storm I referred to above.
What I said and did with these professionals, they might say and do to teachers. What they said and did to teachers, teachers might say and do to students. Every person with whom we interacted yesterday would potentially start a ripple that would become a tsunami, like the proverbial butterfly who flapped its wings in New Mexico.
If you're reading this, I assume you're an educator of some variety. And I am also going to assume that from time to time you might have a bad day with low energy or not enough to give to others and therefore, you might need to pull out that old worksheet you were hoping not to use again. I'm going to guess that sometimes, you just don't have anything else to give and you'll create a fluffy assignment that might not have a full serving of academic integrity. Or, today might need to the be the day you show that not 100% academically integrated movie. Thank goodness there are 185 days in a school year, not just one, because not every day is going to be one of those days where everything goes right and everybody learns something and nobody gets hurt.
If you go at your position as a teacher with the best intentions but once in a while you have to take care of yourself and let a video entertain your students because you need to regroup, I'm, going to give you a complete pass on that. THIS IS YOUR PASS.
YOU ARE HUMAN. Some days we are not at our best. Some days we just need them to be quiet. Some days we are not going to be teacher of the year with all of the best technology integration and assignments and demeanor and kind words and everything... EV.... RY... THING... that it takes to be an amazing teacher. And you know what, that is OKAY. YOU ARE OK. IT IS GOING TO BE OK anyway.
Education Technology friends and Twitter Stars, can we take a moment to be thankful for our friends, colleagues and sometimes fans, teachers.
Remember, they are doing the hardest job on earth. Often, NO ONE is saying "Thank you" while there are plenty of people criticizing and judging every move. Can we instead focus on what we can do to start the positive trickle down effect a supportive, kind word can have? Instead of saying, "That's WRONG" or "BAD," can we say, "here's a way that might be more effective" or make your day easier or make their learning more engaging?
This Thanksgiving season, I'm thankful for my colleagues who are "in the trenches" where I once was. I have not forgotten what it was like, and I hope I never do. Take care of yourselves.