Back in October, Pernille Ripp wrote an article about the Downside to being a connected educator. I actually have that article bookmarked because I connected to so much of it. The parts about losing time from certain things, being perceived a certain way and becoming a target seemed to be taken directly from moments in my life…well before “connectedness” was a thing. Being connected actually amplified those moments.
A few weeks ago, I sat at a table with educators who shared a certain commonality of being the “outliers” of their schools or districts. They felt that they were the only ones who were not only committed to self-directed growth but also in being passionate about sharing the journey from their classroom lens. I certainly empathized with their situations because I have definitely been there. To be honest, there are moments in the present when I am there. Let’s just say that we connected deeply on this topic and even as our conversation gave way to giving a platform for a group of clearly muted voices, we did not get to discuss solutions…how to stay true to yourself, maintaining your voice…while working through difficult days.
For me, that conversation sparked so many feelings that had been repressed. On the surface, I know how to put on my “brave face” and push through as I have done it my entire life but at some point you have to realize that once you give in and allow yourself to be reactive, professionally silent and academically muted…you give others permission to write your experience.
So, the question remains…
“How do you progress and remain positive with so many barriers in place?”
Below are thoughts from my experiences that have truly helped me over the years.
1. Remain Goal Driven: Do Your Job First with a Vengeance
For me, it is important that I handle my business at work and take care of my campuses and teachers, which isn’t a simple task by any means. I have “work goals” and also “personal goals” but from 8am-4:30pm, the only goals that matter are my work goals and my priorities are to my school district first. The crazy part is that I have always been this way but with the onslaught of opportunities that have fallen my way due to my social sharing, there have been whispers regarding my ability to do my job and all of the “extra things” while maintaining the sanctity of my “district time”.
The reality is that people have no idea that I am so passionate about contributing to the present and future state of education that my commitment to growing in my job while being an active connected contributor often means that what I give up sometimes is sleep, time with my family, personal/vacation days and my own financial security in order to be present for the “extra things”.
Let me be clear in saying that I am not complaining about these sacrifices as these are the moments that I am truly passionate about.
What I am saying is that even when those bad days happen and you feel that your voice is hidden behind the perceptions of others, hold your head high and continue with your goals in mind. In other words, let others do the talking. Instead of going on the defensive…let your work speak for you. The rest? Distant…meaningless…whispers
2. Maintain Your Sanity: Find Your Circles of Trust
I have to say that I did not take this advice as much as I should have. I’m so used to “self-guiding” that typically when I have reached out, my heart and mind were already blocked. I have a few people who support me unconditionally but who will also be critical when I need it. Sometimes, some of my issues were that I needed to approach a situation differently or be more open minded. The people who are in my circle of trust have no problem with helping me to see that. We all need these trustworthy/honest people in our lives who will have our backs while also reminding us to check ourselves.
There have been days that I have felt nearly broken and needed sound advice and having my “circle of trust” means that I am connected to countless pillars of strength and quite frankly…one heck of a cheering section when I need it.
You need these people and if you have yet to identify who “your people” are, it’s time that you extended your PLN.
3. Let NO ONE Rain on Your Parade
When I was accepted to present at or invited to various conferences, I hesitated to tweet. I still haven’t really talked about going to the White House. I have speaking engagements planned that very few people know about. My book releases 1/13 and celebrating this huge feat may not happen beyond my trip to the TIE Conference. I became a Google Certified Teacher and much of my “Action Plan” was to be completed on the down low.
That was the plan anyway.
I have no idea why but we have created this environment where a person cannot have success without backlash. My mother used to say that if you did not have people talking, you weren’t doing something right.
To quote Eleanor Roosevelt…
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
When you are doing great things, let those accomplishments motivate you to stand a bit taller and let those personal accomplishments and lessons learned be the fuel that helps you to be even stronger in your day to day work. Don’t hide behind your accomplishments. Stand not only proud in them but firm in your expertise.
That does not mean that I am going to walk around announcing, “Hey…look at me! I did this thing!”. What I will do though, is continue to share loudly and proudly. I’ll continue to share the power of voice, innovative ideas and the exponential benefits of being connected…even if that means doing it from the lens of the “extra things” that I have done.
One last thing…
If you’re trying to be a prophet in your own land…understand that unless you have “real power” to stimulate change, you may be fighting a losing battle. You need to know that this is okay. That does not mean that you must stop fighting. What that means is that you have to go back to understanding your goals.
Mine are simple…
1. Be the best me that I can be at my job.
2. Continue to push for change in education…even if that means that it happens in every other place but the grounds in which my feet touch.