There’s a lot of hate out there.
It’s permeating so many aspects of our lives these days. You see it on television, in print, and on social media. It’s difficult to escape, and it’s becoming more of the norm in the teacher-sphere.
There are entire Reddit threads, social media accounts, and pages devoted to hating on other teachers. I’m sure there are more spaces I don’t even know about where this takes place. It’s widespread and becoming more and more common every day.
Instead of focusing on the negativity, we need to put more light out there. We need spaces where teachers are actively celebrating one another and calling each other out for the beauty and greatness that they cultivate every day. We need to cheer for the successes that educators are achieving, and promote the amazingness of the wonderful people out in this field.
We need to recognize that every educator went into this business for a reason. Our purposes may not all be the same, but we’re all in this for something. Like our students, we bring our own take to the field, and it’s a reflection of our lives. We have something to say, and while it may shift and evolve as we do, it is absolutely okay to share our voices. Our thoughts should be valued, because while they may not resonate with everyone, they are ours. And that should be enough to make them worthy of respect.
I’m not saying that some of the complaints or comments are unfounded. Some are. And some rightfully call out people who have done something that is wrong. That absolutely needs to happen, because it helps make us better and more aware of ourselves. But there is a way to do it, and it ties to the way we teach the revision process. I tell my students “critique but don’t criticize” and “help but don’t hurt”. I personally believe that if someone has done something wrong, whether it be morally incorrect, culturally insensitive, or any number of things, it’s better to approach them in a helpful way instead of putting them on blast for the world to see. Because when you publicly call out someone, you are not helping them be better. You are shaming them, putting them down, and effectively ending that conversation that could potentially help them become a better educator (and person). I don’t think that is ever the goal, because at the end of the day, I believe that we all want to help each other out. And whether the intention to hurt is there or not, if someone gets called out like that, it does hurt. We’re all humans, and we all make mistakes. We all have flaws and shortcomings, and some of us may not fully understand how we come across or how our limited scope might negatively affect others. It’s important to take ownership and apologize, but it’s just as important to approach someone about their mistake with grace.
And on that note, when we do mess up, we need to apologize. We’re all taught as kids to say we’re sorry and to own up to our mistakes. It seems like a simple idea, but in reality, it’s not simple at all. It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong, and we see people skirting apologies all the time… in politics, business, and in education. It sucks to know that you’ve screwed up, especially when you’ve done it publicly and it feels like everyone knows about it. That’s a fact of the age we are in and the society we’re a part of. Our lives are more public than ever, and that means our setbacks and failures are as well. But it is so important to fully own your mistakes, admit that you were wrong, and then learn from it. Then move forward with new information and personal growth, and be better because of it.
This, to me, is lifting each other up. Celebrating our successes and actively supporting one another in our endeavors, whether it be putting together the perfect Pinterest bulletin board or creating an amazing lesson that totally works with students. But lifting each other up also comes in the form of gracefully calling attention to someone’s mistakes or misunderstandings, and helping them better understand why it is offensive or wrong. This not only helps individual growth, but it also lifts up our profession and helps us, as a whole, become more effective educators.
Legitimate critiques are necessary and helpful. They encourage change and growth, which we all need. But there’s enough hate out there. Let’s not add to it. Instead, let’s lift each other up and affect real change in this profession. Because when we know better, we do better.