My head hurt all weekend since an odd idea came to me late last week. Did you ever get an off-hand comment that seemed vaguely critical and out of context the only explanation could be it was growing in the background for a long time? Writing is processing, and thinking about how to frame bizarre moments on this rainy Sunday afternoon solved the pain.
The best thing about my PLN is that we all understand that sharing, curating, and responding are part of the culture of being a creative collaborator. There are no egos, no “stay in your lane’s” or titles and job descriptions that prevent us from sharing our ideas and resources freely and kindly. From Notice and Note Facebook page and other groups that share ideas and insights I have made new friends. And–never doubt it that it’s a small educational world after all. A good friend and former colleague who moved back to Florida last year is friends with a teacher who’s become a good professional friend via these channels. You just never know.
But what I do know is good work is good work: the younger teachers I work with, even though I’m not officially in the ELA group/department anymore (insert long trombone sound here) they continue to work with me, and we seek out ideas and resources. Which is why I was perplexed last week. What is expected from a staff in terms of sharing? What if a teacher decides she is not going to share her resources? What if, like I am simply because I’ve been in my building so long, should not be the Keeper of Continuity and Nooks and Crannies Resources? For one thing, that title doesn’t fit on a business card. Quite impractical.
One of the…trends?…I’m hearing and seeing is this idea that more seasoned teachers aren’t supposed to share their expertise. It’s curious and confusing. We, teachers, are constantly asked to wash and rinse a laundry basket full of mixed messages:
- Share your resources and time!
- Take on a student teacher!
- Mentor younger teachers!
- It’s not your job anymore, so don’t share!
- Keep your advice to yourself!
- You’re (fill in the blank: overwhelming, emotional, fractured, walking wounded)
- Too many emails
- Not enough emails
- Too passive
- Too aggressive
- If you send it, no one will read it
- More training
- Less training
- Walk on eggshells
- Stand up to bullies
- Let her do it
- Open your classroom door!
- Keep your door shut!
- Don’t smile!
- Welcome them!
- Open your heart!
- You’re bleeding on the carpet!
- You do it.
- Stop doing that.
- Can you?
- Will you?
How do we shut out the static and tune in to what’s essential? How do we enjoy our days at our jobs? Our professional, heavily invested-in, challenging, humanly flawed jobs?
Yes. Shut the door. Temporarily at least. And just listen to students. Whatever the grown-ups are saying or thinking doesn’t matter too much on the periphery. When we work together instead of working outside-in to inside-out, perhaps some authentic professional relationships will grow.
Read Stuff Students Say by Alice T. Rust.
Follow Jackie Gerstein and feel her joy in her teaching.
Follow John Spencer and see how a creative fellow nerd brings passion and respect to new and seasoned teachers alike.
Follow Three Teachers Talk and Sarah Donovan/Ethical ELA.
Thank goodness there are folks in my real and virtual worlds who do appreciate what I offer and encourage and support me. It is through that love, and it is love and not control, that sustains us all.
PS This is the best advice of all: