The internal reasons educators are reluctant to share about themselves.
Why don’t teachers share their awesomeness? I think the biggest reason the teachers, as a rule, do not want to share some of the great things that are happening in their classroom is because we fear the response or judgment of our colleagues. While all of the more recent trends in education discuss teaming and moving toward collaboration, the reality of the classroom is always that a teacher will be responsible for 30 kids at a time.
It’s about silos
It is the teacher’s job to engage, enthrall, motivate, and redirect students all on their own. This is not only a long-standing perspective on teaching, but is still the current situation. The reality of teaching makes education an ideal candidate for silos. As each of us live contained in our silo, to greater or lesser degrees our interaction becomes that of polite competition, or less than polite competition depending on the situation. While many argue that competition is good, collaboration is more effective but is significantly more work. So back to the silos we go. Working in silos of isolation is fertile breeding ground for protectionism and defensiveness when we are asked to share what we are doing in our classroom.
Pedestals are easy to knock down
Another aspect of teacher interaction that dampens our willingness to share what we’re doing is the desire to avoid being associated with the one teacher we all have in our building who is constantly attempting to one-up everyone. A teacher who is trying new things and innovating not for the purpose of building up the group, but building up themselves. We don’t want to appear to be suggesting we have a significantly better tool kit, methodology, or skill set than our colleagues because we are constantly judged. As teachers we have a tendency to judge and be judged by those we work with in our own levels, and are judged by those above and below us on how well our students perform for others. In short, we don’t wish to set ourselves on a pedestal from which we can be knocked off.
I thought we were a team here
Finally another reason that we are hesitant to share our awesomeness is because we also work with those in our buildings that have chosen to work to or perform at a certain level, and deviation significantly from that acceptable level is taken as a threat to the consensus and status quo. In other words, if Mrs. Smith is doing her fancy such-and-such that means everybody’s going to expect me to do it too. When we approach education from that perspective the inevitable result is a social attempt to nip that change in the bud. By stepping, we may stand out, and the comfort status of others might be affected.
Guilty, Guilty, Guilty
To be both clear and fair, I have personally been each one of these colleagues described, and can still be any one of these colleagues described on any given day. To be colleagues worth having, we need to approach competition from a perspective not of personal gain but of motivation for the organization. For the sake of our students, we need to be willing to speak up and speak out about good in education and be willing to be knocked down by those who do not agree. There is benefit in the refining process of discussion, discourse, and ideas. Finally, I have no defense of my sometimes position of fearing that one teacher’s change might mean that I also must change. It is change that is well-considered and carefully executed that can truly raise the performance of all involved. All of this brings me unapologetically back to my presuppositions for the EDU@YourBest podcast; “Everyone has something they do best and we want to talk about it…. even if we have to coax it out of you”.
Yep. My innovations and extravaganzas come from my inherent passion to do amazing things with my kids. It’s not because I want to be “better than”, yet I always have in mind that others may think it’s competitiveness. I suck at a lot of teacher things, but do a lot of “over-the-top” engagement. Hiding my head because I’m doing what I’m driven to do.
I think that is the tension we all feel. The desire to do well for kids, but to also to teach and share with humility and openness.