I was inspired to write this after reading Rachel Murat’s challenge of the same name. My initial inclination was “No.” I stick to positivity and optimism and it’s too tempting to delve into the negative with this theme. I avoid topics like this like I avoided looking in the mirror when I had a black eye.
After some thought, it hit me: Rachel’s whole point is that just because we don’t look at it doesn’t mean the black eye isn’t there. When we will ourselves to ignore our blemishes, our pretending hinders our growth and that is not what’s best for kids. It is in this spirit that I offer my list of 5 Things We need to Quit Pretending.
- We need to quit pretending that we don’t know how to say, “I don’t know.” None of us has all of the answers. And that is OK. The danger is when we don’t feel comfortable or safe admitting it. We do a disservice to students when we pretend we know things that we don’t. We are experiencing the most exciting moment to be in education and a reality of this is that when something is new, there will be an void of expertise. We fill this void with humility and a willingness to ask questions.
- We need to quit pretending that our thumbs don’t point. Using our index fingers to signal the faults in the people and systems around us is easy. The tough part is using our thumbs to point back at ourselves. Put another way: we need to quit pretending we live in houses with only windows and start to use the mirrors to reflect on our own roles and responsibilities.
- We need to quit pretending that “old school” teachers are “wrong school” teachers. An example of this: I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets and blog posts that call out our colleagues who are not active in the “Connected Educators” movement. This is unfair and divisive. Just as our instruction should not be one-size-fits-all, our approach to professional development ought to be a tent large enough to fit the varied attractions that meet the needs of ALL teachers. We are in this for students and we don’t help the cause when we drive wedges between educators.
- We need to quit pretending that there’s enough time in the day. The most valuable resource a teacher has is time and you’d be hard-pressed to find a teacher who’s not already in the red and running a time deficit. Any new ask of teachers is an add to their already overflowing plates and failures to acknowledge and consider this problem are unjust and inexcusable. Educators are dedicated and resourceful but they (probably) aren’t wizards who can wave a wand and make new time where there was none. Providing adequate time must be part of change management.
- We need to quit pretending we know the words to the verses. There are a lot of folks in Education and Ed Reform who have gotten good at singing along with the chorus. It’s catchy. It rhymes. It sounds good. And, it’s only surface level. The real meat and potatoes are in the verses where we go beyond the buzz words and establish the true meaning of our work. It is fine to sing along with chorus but if you cannot or will not join in with the verses, then you are just a backup singer and need to own it.