Friday, January 13, 2017

Educators Need Safety to Share Their Story

Teachers need to feel safe in sharing their story. Teachers are doing amazing things in their classrooms. I don't know who first said "if you don't tell your story someone else will" and I even looked it up to give credit where credit is due but what I found as it's been said many, many times. Which means there are many, many people that have experienced what this means.  

I remember the first time it happened to me in an educational setting. I was sitting in a room at the beginning of the school year with all the K-12 teachers in our school system and it was rhetorically asked by the speaker "why do we teach computers to elementary students in a standalone setting? Why doesn't it support what is happening in the classroom?

I wanted to stand up and scream "that's not true! It does! I'm doing my best to make it   with the classroom learning!" but it wasn't one of those situations where I felt could do that and as I felt tears stinging my eyes, my friend and co-teacher sitting right next to me patted me on the knee and said "it's OK, we know how you actually teach." 

This was before the age of social media. It was basically in a setting of silo'd teachers doing their best day after day with very little adult contact. That was the culture of the day.

But that's not today's culture. Sometimes when I walk into a classroom students don't even look up because they are so used to other adults coming in and out supporting, aiding, watching what's going on that it's the norm.

I think maybe because of my past I have wholeheartedly chosen to share the amazing things going on in education with the world whenever I can. I believe 100% that someone's telling your story and it might as well be you so it will be correct. Sharing your story via blogs and/or using social media, or face to face with other educators helps create a system of transparency that parents and students seem to appreciate.

But very often other educators look at me and say "wow you really do a lot of sharing of the things that you guys have going on in the elementary school but I'm scared to do it. It's risky, what if I say something that is taken the wrong way? or that someone doesn't like?"

I honestly sat there complexed. What would you be saying people might take the wrong way? And then I realized I've had those moments-moments where I needed to explain a little bit about what was going on to help people understand better what our goals and standards were. But I never feel like I've had my hand slapped for something I've shared. I have been questioned but I don't have a problem with that. And as an innovator, I should be questioned. No educator should have free reign. There should be some boundaries. I'll be honest I think my sharing has brought me more positive results as an educator than negative. I love telling our story at our school because I love our school. If I post something that someone doesn't agree with (which has happened), or that is misinterpreted (which definitely has happened), they have to know my heart. I am an educator who passionately believes in her students and the faculty at my school. Our story is a great one and I'm proud to show it. 

It makes me sad to hear about other educators not feeling safe to share their stories. How I long for everyone to have the freedom and feel a school culture that gives them the safety to share, to not be criticized for thinking or feeling differently on a subject. I think as long as we don't bash other's thoughts and we share kindly and in a way that does not harm our school's reputation then administrators should welcome educators that have good things to share and are willing to share.

 Over the past year I've really tried to strive to share the positives as I'm walking down hallways, as I'm looking in classrooms, as I'm seeing people interact, as I'm teaching, as I'm watching students learn and watching children play. Educators and schools get bad wraps every single day. It's time to create a culture where teachers feel safe to share the good things going on. Let's do it! Grab a hashtag for your school and GO! I've adopted #ccslearns and invite other CCS teachers to get on this hashtag's share train!  What's yours?