So… I’ve been complaining for the last 33 hours. Maybe not consecutively - because sometimes I sleep or eat - but frequently over the course of that time.
Why? It doesn’t really matter, I guess. (Even though it’s very frustrating!). The short version is that I am unhappy with something at my school, and when you boil it down to that, I think many of us have been complaining for our entire career… except when we’re eating and sleeping.
The most vocal critics of modern education are those within: teachers, admin, students, etc. Personally, I am constantly battling with myself about whether or not something is worth picking a fight over. After all advocacy is about picking out the BIG ROCKS.
As I sit mulling over my own conundrum, I’m picking through a list of questions. A list I hope might be helpful for others. Here we go:
Is it something that I’m earnestly excited about?
I am a pretty animated person… apparently. I never thought of myself that way until my department chair told me that she watches me during department meetings just to see my facial reactions. That said, I can usually tell pretty quickly if I am excited about something. A 10 minutes chat with a colleague or mini blow up to my significant other usually cements what I am excited about, and I use that as a guide in determining it something is worth advocating for.
Will I lose sleep if I do nothing?
This question makes it pretty easy to decide if I need to fight for something. Mostly because I love to sleep. Like, given the opportunity I have taken three naps in a single day. As soon as I sit up restlessly trying to sleep, I know that something is weighing on my heart. Those moments very quickly tell me I have to take a stand.
Who is suffering?
This is an important question in determining where you place your energies. If I’m the one suffering, then I need to assess what I can do on my own to fix the problem. If my friends are suffering, I need to determine the extent of people affected. If students are suffering, then I need to figure out if it’s just my kids (and therefore, probably my fault) or if kids on a larger scale are being equally affected. These distinctions are important in picking which mantel you’ll pick up.
Who can I recruit?
This question is maybe a bit selfish. If I intend to take on any battles for the greater good, I better have a team behind me. Frankly, I cannot do these things alone, nor should I. Change is built on advocacy and collaboration. If I am alone in my fight, it might not be the battle worth fighting.
Advocacy is an essential part of Teaching Sincerely as those BIG ROCKS need to be defended and preserved, but we can’t go around taking up every cause that we think matters. The fight would be endless and exhausting.
Start with the BIG ROCKS and fight fiercely.