For or Against?


As I was driving to the store today, I saw a small protest beside the highway.  It was a political protest and those in it were holding signs with slander and derogatory name-calling.  I have no idea what they politically stand for but I know what they hate!

This made me remember something my pastor once said.  He said, “We should be known more for what we  STAND FOR, rather than what we STAND AGAINST.”

This is also true as educators.  We can be so passionate about our educational philosophies and ideas that we have to be careful not to come off like these protestors.  I have been doing some self-reflection since this morning and know I have been guilty of stating my viewpoints the wrong way.  For example, I am VERY passionate that math should be taught differently than the way I learned.  I was an “A” student because I could spit out math through algorithms but I didn’t understand the math behind them or why the they worked.  Sometimes I find myself saying, “We need to teach students differently than how we learned. It’s not good enough.”  Well, if you only teach that way, I probably just made a mental protest sign stating that you aren’t teaching math well.

Instead, I should be a cheerleader for teaching math with understanding.  I should say, “Here’s an activity I did yesterday with my students and I was amazed at the mathematical understanding happening in class.” Now, I’ve offered a possibility or an idea with no judgement about how they teach the same skill. Hey, they might even try it!

I am a very positive person and I really hope that I am known more for what I stand for rather than what I am against.  However, I am sure I have failed at this many times.  To help with this I have made these goals for education discussions:

  • Focus on and share what I stand for without instantly comparing it to the opposite view.
  • Be excited for what I stand for- passion is contagious!
  • Let the little things go- everything is not a “us” against “them”
  • Really listen to an opposing viewpoint without thinking of my rationale against it or how it won’t work. I might learn something or change my mind! 🙂

Something to ask yourself:                                                                                                        Am I known more for what I stand for or for what I am against?

More than meets the eye

I am sure you have heard the idiom: “More than meets the eye”

It means: A hidden significance, greater than is first apparent  

I’m a big fan of books and movies. In particular, I find myself drawn to books with characters that are more than what they seem, especially to themselves. One of my favorites is Harry Potter. He has to be told his incredible life story at the age of 11.  Tris from Divergent knows she wants more but has no idea that she already is more than she thought.

I started wondering why I was drawn to these characters. I think it’s because I always dream to be more than I am.  How cool would it be to find out you have super powers or that you are the only one who can save your world?  I think that makes the characters so endearing because they have no clue how special they are.

As a teacher, I want to be more than I am now.  It’s why I follow amazing teachers on twitter.  It’s the reason I participate in chats.  I hope to learn something that will make me better than I thought I could be.

About a month ago, I read a post by Michelle Baldwin titled No More Rock Stars. I agree with everything she says but I have to admit that I did see some on twitter as rock stars.  Here’s the thing, they were just like us. They started somewhere.  They had to join that first chat. They had to write their first post. They have doubts anyone will read their posts (just like I am now).

I have come to realize that there’s more to me than meets the eye.  I have a tendency to be hard on myself.  I can learn from others but I need to realize that others can learn from me. I can be greater than I first appear because I am wanting to be better than I am now!

The same thing can be said for my students this upcoming school year.  I teach 2nd grade and it is sad to say that even at this early grade, I always have one or two students who believe they aren’t smart or are full of self-doubt. I spend lots of time getting to know my students so I can shine a light on gifts they may not realize they have.  It’s one of the favorite parts of my job. 🙂  So, l am going to make extra effort to look for the hidden (and not so hidden) significance in each student. I want to help them see they are greater than what their mind’s eye may see.

The good news is that YOU are more than meets the eye. You  have a “hidden significance” even if you don’t realize it. You have talents that others do not. Inside of you, is the only thing that will reach that one student no one has reached yet.  You are greater than is first apparent because you haven’t finished learning yet. You aren’t done!

Happy New (School) Year!