I am grateful for all the visitors who happen to give my writing a few minutes of their time. I am even more grateful for the few who have shared comments about my posts. On Friday, I wrote a post titled, “The necessity of inventive thinking and its challenge to educators” which elicited this anonymous response:
“Everybody says these things, but nobody really believes them in schools. If you try to do these things you get your butt kicked....mine has lots of bruises!”
Since reading this response, I have been reflecting on how to both empathize with the responder and offer some intelligent post that serves not only his or her response justice, but also may serve to help others who may be feeling the same way. Here is my humble attempt at both.
The best educators I have ever met all have one thing in common. They care deeply about what they do because they understand that their work does matter. There are those who have given up and are coasting along to retirement. Unfortunately, those are the teachers who do as much damage to the profession than they do to the students who are in their care. The great ones care, and they care deeply. How do they show it? One simple way is to simply show up and do your best each day. The comment above demonstrates frustration, that is easy to see. But if you look at it closer, you may also see some real grit in the words. This person has “lots of bruises” which may mean that he or she continues to work at their best regardless of the obstacles they have encountered. Not a bad quality to have given the landscape of education and the demands placed upon educators.
I also am compelled to point out that I speak from experience with frustration with schools. My own career has had its challenges along the way, but I maintained an attitude that I could learn from each experience and use it to grow both personally and professionally. Set backs are difficult and they hurt, but if you truly care about what you do and the students you teach, then I also firmly believe that you are making a positive impact no matter what you may be feeling at this point.
To the commenter, I would say that you have probably made an even greater impact on those around you than you may ever know. I am sure your example has inspired others to do things they would not have tried to do. My response to your comment may not do much to comfort the ill will you obviously are feeling, but try to take some solace in knowing that all teachers worth their salt have likely been as frustrated as you feel now. My advice, as easy as it may sound, is to focus on what you can control, learn from your experiences, and keep doing good work for the students you encounter.
While I do not necessarily agree that “Everybody says these things, but nobody really believes them in schools” – I will admit that trying new things and working to make changes takes courage, skill, and a little luck. So to all of you who may feel, from time to time, like the commenter:
Don’t lose courage
Keep working skillfully to do your best
May you all find a bit of luck when needed