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Little Red Hen gets her feathers ruffled.

chickenI’m not sure I really want the answer to this question, but: How do you balance sharing your creativity with maintaining some personal intellectual property/boundaries? This is not limited to teachers, either. All of us share, or don’t. The more spongy we are, the more we share without thought to our own resiliency or resentment levels.

This internal dilemma came up over the weekend. Let me be clear: No one in this scenario is wrong, or rude. Except for maybe me. These are my own reactions to a commonplace scenario that I put myself in, no one else. If you can relate or have another perspective, one I didn’t cover in this reflection, please – comment away.

With excitement and enthusiasm, I have created many mini-units, lessons, tested and tasted dozens of ways and means to get students engaged, and keep their motivation fresh. If other teachers are interested in these lessons, and ask, I share. Sometimes I share without asking.

But I found myself feeling a little resentful over the weekend: colleagues were requesting lessons, and wanting to know what resources were out there, and seemed annoyed with me for stating that many of the resources were mine in the making, and clarifying what was district provided. Now, this is also a case for misreading e-mails.I grew to hate e-mail over the weekend. Its limited razor-wire curt and cut communication did not help me say what I needed to say with good, old-fashioned face-to-face discussion. Resentment is the plaque that builds over the enamel of the soul, and doesn’t make itself a nuisance until the gums start to bleed. Resentment is the stalagmite on the cave ceiling (or is it the cave floor?) slowly building to meet the stalagmite in the middle of the hole. Resentment is sent in a millisecond through the electronic universe, clashing with hurt feelings and sore “send” fingers. This kind person asking about resources did not realize the resentment land-mine field she stepped in with me.

As I was sitting there wondering “what the heck was wrong with me,” I read one of my favorite bloggers, Teacher Tom. This post discussed his preschoolers’ reaction to the Little Red Hen, and a surprising one for him. The preschoolers thougtht the LRH should have shared her food, no matter how much she worked, poked, and prodded the other friends to do their fair share. I told my teenage son about this reacion this morning and his response: “The Little Red Hen is a jerk.”

I am the Little Red Hen.

But then I reflected – perhaps I am the bread.

No one likes the LRH because she is a scold and a nag. When I think I’m clearly stating boundaries (in order to floss the resentment away), perhaps I am just coming off as a jerk. There is definitely something of a “pay your dues” mentality amongst teachers, with the mantra, “If you don’t suffer and sweat as I did, you are not worthy of my esteemed creativity and genuis.”

I have taken hours and spent thousands on my professional development. I have spent hours reading books for my age group of students, and thousands on books for my classroom library. I have e-mailed, distributed, shared, and bound and binder-ed comprehension curriculum documents. And it got a little irksom when my perception distorted that others just wanted more of me, more than I was willing to give.

But bread is meant to be broken with friends; it tastes like sawdust when kept to oneself. Perhaps this is why the LRH is a jerk. “What do I really want?” is always the question: I want to be acknoledged that I bake good bread, that it takes time and effort, but I also want to enjoy it with friends. That’s what makes it nourishing.

 To read about how preschoolers understand more about fairness than I do, please read:

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Am I angry?

red queen

Yes. Sometimes.

But I think I’m at the life stage where it’s not so much “anger” as it is “resentment.” This may look like anger, and it can smell like anger, but anger is basically fear wearing a mask. Resentment is more like the sword of (in)justice ringing unsheathed–righteous indignation’s big brother.

: a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury

What makes me resentful? Well, a lot of things: disrespect, ignorance, greed, the twins, Miss Communication and Miss Information (the two ugly step-sisters of Miss Guided). I wish I always acted the hero, always did what was right and just for the greater good, but alas, I do not. Resentment is the foundation of every decent villain worth his salt (and vinegar). The hero doesn’t do things because they are resentful–they do things and act courageously because it’s difficult, well-intended, and helps others besides themselves. The villain is just pissed off.
Recently I took offense at something that was created by Miss Guided, Miss Communicated, and Miss Informed. I didn’t take the high road –not even close. There’s still the “smell of anger” on my muddy mental shoes. Got down in the muck, and am covered in it, head to toe.
And now that I’m thinking about it, I really should get over myself. How about that? I’m not going to apologize for my opinion. I think I give out apologies too quickly, when I should allow myself to have an opinion for once, and not bend and be flexible. A fixed mind set is, well, rooted deeply. But sometimes my “bending tree” has slapped me in the face with a branch. But I will get over myself, and try to be a bit more full of grace.
But before I try on some humility–I might be right.
I’m done.
I’d love to know how others “get over themselves.” I’m not very good at this one.