powerful moments in education
Identity is a fascinating concept. It shifts, alters, appears, disappears, much like the moon or sun or seasons. Writing forces you to stare in the mirror at yourself, causing you to examine your identity so closely, so intimately.
I come up with a lot of reasons not to write. Most of those reasons have to do with me thinking no one wants to hear what I have to say or that I’m afraid that someone might judge me. (which is silly if you know me- I rarely make decisions based on pleasing the crowd…maybe it feels as though writing is so…permanent in a digital age?”)
However, I often wonder if I avoid writing to evade making sense of my new identity, especially with the redirect in my career over the last couple years.
Becoming a teacher was something I always wanted. Replying, “I’m a teacher” was so simple during small talk as the phrase alone held everything I needed to say. These days, I notice that I have a reaction, or lack thereof, and it is something I need to stop doing. When I imagine myself as someone who left the classroom, I give it a negative connotation. Even the phrase “left the classroom” has contains a sense of longing, regret – even failure – but it doesn’t need to hold that tone. In fact, even 1 ½ years later, I still find that I don’t know what to say when people ask me “where I teach” or “where I am now”. Sometimes on long drives, I force myself to practice answering these questions because I tend to look to others to answer it for me or respond in a less than confident fashion.
That is just plain ridiculous.
So, let’s take a look back at the blog post I wrote just after resignation and see what I had to say….
“Instead of looking at it as “leaving the classroom”, I redubbed it “getting into more classroomS plural” in my mind. I want to badly to be out there working with teachers- both learning from them and teaching them, guiding new and/or willing teachers to explore new approaches. There was no way to do this while remaining my classroom, so I resigned from my coveted position in a great school with fascinating kids, an incredible staff and a community whom I know well and was supportive of me. My time is now consumed with developing my ideas, reading and learning, and planting seeds for my consulting business.”
Umm…I did that. I AM doing that. Yay me!
So why do I still feel this way? Why do I love what I am doing but struggle with identifying with anything other than “I am a teacher”?
I think I harbor slight resentment. There. I said it. There is nothing more joyful, more amazing, more honorable than being a classroom teacher. From my first year of elementary classroom teaching to my 12th, I faded from being a creative, optimistic, joyful teacher to a creative, silently cynical teacher. I’m not even sure how it happened or toward whom I direct my resentment. I do resist change, so perhaps this is how I deal with my shift in (or expanded?) skill set. How could I let this happen? Was it my fault?
Maybe. Maybe not. But here is something I have realized. I’d like to say it doesn’t matter now how or why it happened, but actually, it does. It matters because I have the gift of hindsight – a gift that I can repurpose and share with others.
Whether I do it while I train teachers eager for more, inspire teachers who are treading water or to provide an AHA! moment for an administrator, I need to do it. I love what I am doing and will learn to adjust my interpretation of my shift as an educator.
At a social media gathering hosted by my friends and colleagues at Heinemann, Chris Lehman reminded us that blogging often begins by telling one’s own story but that there is a responsibility to tell others’ stories, too. Next, he introduced Christopher Bronke, co-founder of the National Blogging Collaborative who shared that people frequently avoid blogging because they think no one wants to read what they have to say, and “they’re right – no one wants to hear what you have to say, but they do want to hear your story.”
I can do that.