Changing the Conversation

image credit: maliladesigns (Etsy shop)

image credit: maliladesigns (Etsy shop)

A phone call I had with a friend after finishing the school year last summer:

Her: You know, you sound better.  Happier.  You just sound happier now that the year is over.
Me:  That sucks.  I sound miserable for most of the year and then there are a few weeks where I actually sound happy?
Her: Uh, kind of.
Me: But I love my job.  Most of the time it makes me feel happy.
Her: Well you certainly don’t sound that way…
And you know what?  She’s right.  I don’t sound that way most of the time.  Most of the time I’m complaining about a new mandate, or my schedule, or not having enough time or the ten million other little things that actually are annoying but really?  Are they worth sounding perpetually unhappy?  Don’t get me wrong, I love to drag out the old soapbox and a cocktail and get-my-complain-on with the best of them (Hi, have you met my blog?), but perhpas my complaining and negativity had taken over a bit too much.  Yes, there is a lot to be unhappy about in education at times, but if someone asked me if I would like to have any other career, the answer would be “no.”  (Okay, maybe it would be a resounding “YES!” if someone called and asked me to name nail polish colors because for some reason I think that job sounds amaaaaazing, but the lovely people at Essie have yet to offer me anything.)
During my deeply nerdy days as a doctoral student, I interviewed teachers about their lives as educators.  While my dissertation did not focus on the issue of teacher happiness exactly, I did discover that many teachers, great teachers, were hugely unhappy with a number of aspects of our career.  Relationships with colleagues, relationships with administrators, relationships with data, the clock and curriculum all ranked as high on the These Things Have The Potential to Suck scale.
The thing is, none of these aspects of teaching are going to go away.  Some of them may continue to get worse.  Others may improve.  But none of them are going to disappear off the plate of the teacher.  (Things rarely do….)  So what do we do?  Do we continue to complain and sound perpetually unhappy (or even worse feel perpetually unhappy)?

This conversation, my nerdy research and my work with teachers inspired me to write Be Fabulous.  And while I think we need to continue to raise hell about the education issues we feel passionate about, we also need to be able to smile as we face our classrooms and ourselves.  (Am I getting too self-helpy?  Just let me know…for reals.  A little smack or something.)  I hope that it helps you refocus your energy and take back some of the control of not only your classroom, but your teaching career.  At the very least, I hope it’s an entertaining read that leaves you with a few ideas and a lot of laughs.

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  • It's gonna help, I guarantee!
    (Amazon managed to "locate" it, btw, so I won't have to get ugly after all.)

    September 2, 2014 at 2:21 pm
  • It is always so refreshing reading your blog! As a teacher in BC, Canada we are for the very first time out on strike before the school year even begins!!!! Augggggg!!!!! We were locked out by the provincial government and on strike for 2 1/2 weeks before summer started as well. I feel disheartened and often question my decision to go into teaching 22 years ago. Even though I know that when I get in my class and shut the door on all the bull s&*^t I love working with kids and am a rockstar. Thank you for making me smile!!!

    September 2, 2014 at 2:21 pm

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