This evening, when I came home from work, my wife and I were having a conversation about successful teachers and the recognition that may accompany this success. We are both teachers, both passionate about our career but both with VERY different personas. I am usually very vocal about just about anything and I love to share while my wife prefers "not to make waves" - whatever that means. She has a much more quiet demeanor and is more reluctant to share with just anybody.
I believe that you are the maker of your own destiny and if you want something, you must go after it. I'm not just talking about material items. In fact, I think that material things are much lower on my list of wants. One example of something I want is to be the best teacher that I can be for me and for my students. To that end, I am always looking for great ideas that I can use in my classroom, connecting with other educators who share my mindset and reflecting on my practice.
This year, my school has begun a new program that has its roots in project based learning. I, being a language teacher, jumped at the chance to be a part of the program. So far, things are going really well and although I was supposed to be using this approach with certain classes, I couldn't help but do it in all of my classes. I am very fortunate to have a very supportive administration - from the very top down. I don't think that happens often.
It has been extremely beneficial to share with other teachers in the program but also with those who are not. I have been so excited about what I've been doing in the classroom, that I can't wait to share with the other language teachers in my department and with my administration. So far, I don't think that I have given the impression that I am better than others because I think that my enthusiasm and passion conveys that we can do more with our students and I am hoping it will open a dialogue between colleagues so that they can also share with me their successes. In the end, it's about the students and honing our craft- not about who's better, more traditional or too progressive. We all have something to bring to the table but the dialogue has to start somewhere and everyone should know that their ideas are just as welcome. Lead by example, right?
Back to my wife. She had begun watching a series on Netflix called The Kindness Diaries by Leon Logothetis. She tells me that I need to watch. I do, and I'm hooked. I can't help tearing up throughout each episode but can't get enough. If you haven't watched this series yet, put it on your must-see list! It has made me appreciate on an ever deeper level everything I have and the life I live. I immediately followed Leon on Twitter and let him know how great I thought his idea was. I couldn't help but want to let him know, even if I don't get a retweet or a like- I just think he should get the praise he deserves. So, a few days later, Leon tweets that he'll come to your school or business and I'm thinking "How AMAZING would that be!?" And like that, I tweet at him and before you know it, I've entered a dialogue with him! I hope that we can make this happen. I tell my wife and she immediately has an awesome idea that we should start a project that is rooted throughout our entire district called Commitment to Kindness. I tell her I hope she's ready for some recognition because my mind is already racing ahead to having a teacher in each of our schools head up the initiative and she has to be the one in her school. Since she won't "toot her own horn", I'm doing it for her.
Sometimes we're afraid if we share ideas that they'll come across as bragging or that if we go above and beyond what we're doing that our colleagues will think we're trying to make them look bad. I've heard of some teachers talking about another saying how she's always requested by parents and it's not right. I know that this particular teacher does what she does because she's passionate about certain things not to show anyone up. Maybe her way isn't your way. Maybe her passion isn't yours. If you're jealous, ask yourself why. We all can be ourselves and be amazing and communicate that with our students. It would be boring if all the teachers were the same anyhow.
I logged onto the first episode of #IMMOOC tonight and this very topic was brought up by a fellow viewer that it prompted me to write this post. I feel that I share with good intentions. I believe that the way you present something with passion and enthusiasm should be inspiring not showing off. If people feel that you're doing it to gain more recognition than them but your intentions are good, it really is on them. We all can share in the spotlight when we have a common goal. If we can share without fear of judgement, imagine all the ideas we could have in our arsenal!