Stories abound. But are they the ones we want people to hear?
Stories. They are out there. Have you watched a news report lately?
No? Go ahead. Turn on the TV and see for yourself.
Or better yet, Google teachers and see what comes up.
That’s right, people- all the NEGATIVE crap out there. Rarely do we hear the good that educators and schools are doing. Some might tell you it’s because positive doesn’t “sell.” I have always found that statement offensive. Of COURSE positive will “sell”- we just don’t offer it often enough.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “So what, why do I care? Doesn’t affect me or what I do.” And that, my friend, is where you are dead wrong. In this glorious world of education (and it truly is an amazing and fulfilling profession), we all get lumped in together. So that teacher across the country that decided to date her students- yup, that does affect you because the people in your community now begin to wonder if there are things like that going on in YOUR school.
There is so much good that happens in our schools. Why? Why aren’t we sharing out EVERY DAY all the good that happens? I get it. I know that when the day ends we are exhausted, both mentally and physically- and the thought of trying to tweet, blog, status update, or snap are overwhelming. I truly get it.
I want you to stop and think for just a moment what would happen if EVERY SINGLE teacher, took 5 minutes at the end of the day (Or the start of the next) and shared out a positive moment from their day. I am talking about something that happened at school…with students that was positive. There are millions of teachers. Good things DO happen every day. We would overwhelm the media world with good. And not only would it be “good,” but it would shine the missing positive light we need in our schools.
John, what in the world made you think of this story sharing idea?
Well, that is a great question. I have long thought that teachers are always in the public eye and have been at the mercy of the media. I have felt helpless watching all the negative comments, newscasts, posts, websites, and verbal attacks on education. I tend to take them pretty personally. After all, I have devoted the last 16 years of my life to this profession. There is no money in education- even as an administrator. You simply can’t pay a true teacher what they are worth. I want the world to see teachers for what they are: dedicated individuals that love sharing knowledge with kids. (Yes, I realize that there are poor teachers out there. But, again, where are we going to focus our time and energy?).
Then, as I attended our open institute meetings before school started this year, our new superintendent told us that as teachers we need to share our stories. Stories that will rebuild public trust and show the world what we do and why we do it.
But John, won’t people just think we are bragging?
Maybe, but it all depends on how you chose to phrase your comments. If your desire to come out looking like the magical genius you are, then yes, it will look like bragging. But sharing a positive story doesn’t mean you have to paint yourself the hero or heroine.
For example, let’s say little Jamal finally learned his six times tables. Instead of saying something like “Today was amazing. After spending hours and hours of my time after school teaching him, Jamal learned his six times tables and passed them off! AWESOME!”. This story, where you are painted as the martyred teacher, isn’t a positive story. It’s a brag and a complaint all rolled into one. It doesn’t do much to help make others feel good.
You might instead share the same story in a way that is building positivity for everyone in the world of education. For example, you might say, “Today was a fantastic day. One of my students, who has been working his little tail off for three weeks to learn his six times tables finally mastered them. I wish you could have seen his huge smile when he showed me his test. We gave each other a high-five, and he skipped back to his desk. This is why I teach- to help my kiddos find success!”. See, same story, whole different light, and attitude. People will infer you are an amazing teacher simply by the way you supported and reacted to your student’s success.
But John, how do we compete with all the negative that is out there already? I mean, I can’t even find positive in my faculty room, let alone the social media world!
Misery truly does love company- don’t believe me? Just visit most faculty rooms and listen. It’s easy to complain about “those kids” or “that parent” or “the hot mess teammate,” but what good does it do in the end? I have worked hard at my school to detour negative conversations into the positive realm. And, when I find myself saying or thinking negative thoughts, I have to stop and recenter myself. Of course, there is still complaining and negativity in my building, but I can’t let that be the focus of all I do.
I love that this sharing stories movement is picking up momentum. Below is a video from the company Teachers Pay Teachers. It was humbling to be asked to share my story with TpT (Teachers pay Teachers). There are many more short snippets of teachers sharing why they do what they do. Check it out HERE.
It’s time, teachers, to tell your story!
What are you waiting for? Make a short video, tweet, Snap, Instagram, status update. It doesn’t matter what platform you use. It is time to share our stories. It is time to make a difference.
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