Last week was stressful. My son was sick. We had parent-teacher conferences. The principal called an emergency meeting with the senior class. I had an interview at a local news station to promote my book. My granddad called me fat. And I stepped in dog poop. Things were so exciting- can't you just hear the sarcasm?
I spoke with one of my friends during the week and she said something that I just couldn't shake. "Do you ever feel that you are being made uncomfortable on purpose?" This question has resonated with me all week because for the last year I have felt that I was out of place. Now, I know what my job is. I know what I'm supposed to do with and for my kids. I also know how to reach them. But daily it seems as though someone is condescendingly telling me what to do as if I have not already been doing it. It's both unnecessary and uncomfortable at the same time.
As an educator, I am constantly adapting and adjusting to the needs of those around me who feel as though what they have to say or do is more important than the service I am providing to my kids. I tuck my tail, lower my ears, and take it in stride because what else am I supposed to do? But when people start to treat me as a child and speak to me as they do the children in the building, I take strong offense to that.
I don't know everything and I have never claimed to, but what I do know is that common courtesy and decency has never hurt anyone. We are constantly reminded that within the confines of our classroom that we are to be the constant and consummate professionals- shouldn't that extend to our immediate supervisors? There is unrest and resistance in many school buildings because of lack of professionalism and barriers to communication. Now, when I say "barriers" I don't mean that communication is not present, I mean that there is a lack of understanding from one or both parties. I go to work daily to provide a service, but when my service is going to be interrupted, I need to know in advance so that I can adjust. If I'm called into a meeting with one or more administrators or team members, talk to me and not at me. Don't talk around me as if I am not in the room. If there is something that I have done that seems questionable, let me know so that I can explain myself or fix it. Don't tell me that I am being defensive because I need to state the hows and the whys of my decision-making. Speaking of decision-making, I was hired because you thought I was professional enough to present information to the students in a way that they could benefit- please trust and respect my delivery methods to be appropriate and timely for my kids.
Sometimes I just want to tell the powers that be, "If you feel like you can do a better job, by all means come do so. Otherwise, I GOT THIS!" But I can't do that. I can't say that. I'd be written up and labeled as insubordinate when what I really am is PASSIONATE about what I am doing. I'm not confident in a lot of things. But when it comes to education, I think I do a pretty damn good job of meeting the needs of my students. So please, let me do me.
I'm uncomfortable and I feel as though I'm hitting a ceiling that shouldn't be above my head at all. That piece of sand that is in my shell right now is so scratchy and irritating. But the harder I work, the more I put my focus and energy into my kids, the more the sand is buffered and surrounded by a protective film or coating so that it doesn't bother me as much. The end result will be a beautiful, illustrious pearl in the form of student success and mastery that no one will ever deny. I don't plan on quitting. I don't plan on letting this break me. But I do plan on using this as a stepping stool to reach my goals of helping more teachers and students.
So keep on throwing sand my way. I need a new pearl necklace anyway.