I’ve been sitting on this post for three months or so. I’ve gone back and forth on whether to write it or not because I often worry about how things will be read. Will my message be received the way I intend? Will I come off too harsh? Too hypocritical? Too egotistical? Too much of a know-it-all? I’ve gone back and forth on it. But, here we are. The words are on my screen and I’m going to give it a go.
Some of my friends may have noticed that I’ve taken a bit of a social media break in the last few months. It certainly timed up with when I started my new job but that wasn’t really the reason. I’m definitely busier than I used to but, again, that’s not the reason that I’ve stepped back from social media. It’s an entirely different reason.
I became discouraged with Twitter a few months ago. As the new year was getting ready to start, I watched as many teachers shared their ideas. They were excited for the new year. Excited to try new things. Excited to meet their students. Yet, there was an entirely different group of people that existed on Twitter. There was a group of educators that were consistently and harshly ripping into these other educators. Sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. I watched as people responded to posts with negativity and judgment. I watched as people wrote about their child’s teacher and/or other educators that they know and how they felt that their ideas were simple and worthless. I watched as this amazing professional ripped into each other because they didn’t think other people’s ideas were good enough.
And it broke my heart.
Education is an incredibly difficult career. Whether you are a teacher, administrator, instructional coach, or classified staff – it’s a tough career. The last thing that we need to do is break each other down.
As these thoughts were going through my mind, I remember seeing a poster that was left in my office when I moved into it. At the bottom of the poster the words, “Dude. Be Nice.” were written on it. It was completely random and entirely fitting that I saw these words at nearly the same time. This poster, and these three words, have inspired my three challenges for you this year. These are three, simple challenges to uplift and strengthen one another – and I hope you take them seriously.
Dude. Be Nice
Our world could use a little more niceness. Scratch that – our world could use a lot more niceness. People are tough on one another and it rarely comes from a place of trying to help each other grow. Don’t get me wrong, some people come off critical but they are really trying to challenge others to grow. Unfortunately, I truly believe that these situations are rare.
As you talk with others, think about the way that your words would sound to you if you were on the receiving end of it. If someone isn’t teaching to the caliber that you feel is appropriate, you can still be nice and help them grow. In fact, it will actually create a better rapport between you and the other educators because they will see you as someone that they can trust. Someone they can come to without fear of judgment and criticism. Someone that they can come to for constructive feedback – but someone that still has their back.
Every time I finish working with students in the discipline office I tell them, “Now, go be a nice human.” They usually get a chuckle out of it but I mean every word. It’s my challenge to you, too. Be a nice human.
Dude. Be Transparent.
Lately, I’ve become increasingly aware of the lack of transparency in education. Everyone wants to appear perfect. They want to look as if they have it all together.
News flash: No one is that perfect and no one has it all together. If anything, a lack of transparency is death to effective collaboration and growth.
A lack of transparency creates a lack of trust. Without trust, people will not be willing to take risks, share openly and grow together. It’s incredibly important that educators understand that we are all in this together. It’s important that they understand that we all make mistakes. It’s important they understand that we all have so much to learn. And yes, it’s important that they all understand that we are not perfect.
My challenge to you is to share transparently, trust one another and grow together.
Dude. Be Encouraging.
Years ago, my husband and I took the “love languages” test and my love language was “words of affirmation”. A few years later, I realized that there was actually a “professional” (or work) version of this book. I didn’t bother reading it because I knew it would come out the same. Words of affirmation have always meant the world to me.
I would imagine that a large number of educators thrive on words of affirmation and encouragement. It doesn’t take much. A simple compliment on an awesome lesson that was observed or even a simple “thank you” for something that was done. Words are more powerful than we think and I truly believe they can be a powerful voice in our schools.
As you go through your week, my challenge to you is to encourage the people that you work with on a daily basis. Give encouragement for those that are finding success – but definitely for those that are struggling, too. It doesn’t have to be much. Just something to let them know that you are in this with them.
If you had to pick your “Dude. Be _________” statement – what would it be? Share in the comments below!