Thursday, February 04, 2010

Turns out maybe Clairee didn’t have the right idea after all.

Today was not a good day. It was a very hard day. I came home from work feeling defeated and useless and oh so like a failure. Please understand, this isn’t a cheap plea for comments that will build me up. On most days I know I’m pretty dang great. Even if I didn’t, I have a husband who will remind me of that. Even tonight, he didn’t let the lies that felt like truth stay around for long.

He also finished making dinner which, let’s be honest, is sometimes exactly what a girl needs.

But it’s almost five hours later and the emotions that dominated my day are still lingering. You see, I spend the majority of my work days in a climate that is…difficult. Criticism {sometimes out in the open but mostly spoken behind people’s backs}, judgment, gossip and unreasonable expectations are the norm rather than the exception. I didn’t notice it at first. I was still in the honeymoon phase of being overjoyed at being back in the classroom. Slowly but surely, though, I realized that the normal lunch conversation {and break time conversation and after school conversation and…} was to criticize, criticize, criticize. Students, parents, each other, our headmaster- you name it, it’s free game.

And I joined in.

As much as it sickens me to admit that, I have to. I’ve spent my fair share of time critiquing everyone and everything. I haven’t wanted to. But it’s the age old problem: if everyone around you is doing it…well, let’s just say that peer pressure doesn’t end after your teen years. So I joined in and it has slowly but surely made me absolutely miserable.

To make matters worse, it’s started to seep over into my life outside of the classroom. I haven’t written here or on Facebook or even twittered all that much because of how critical I have felt all the ding dang time. I figure it’s like my mom used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I don’t like being this person. No, I hate being this person. But I have to deal with what I’m given. I have a classroom full of kids that need a teacher with a better attitude because believe me, when you bitch and moan all day? It shows up in other places. Kids aren’t stupid. They’re intuitive and smart and they deserve the best from me.

So how do I do it? How do I stand outside such a critical environment that certainly isn’t going to change anytime soon? I’m doing my best to not even enter into the conversations. I’m stopping myself from asking the questions that I know will lead to more criticism. I probably need to memorize some Scripture to say to myself at crucial moments. It feels overwhelming. It’s so ingrained in this particular culture that trying to change it seems absolutely futile. I don’t even know that I’m supposed to try and change it.

But I am supposed to act differently.

I’ve taught at another school that has showed me and trained me in a different way. Not perfect, but different. I need to honor that. I want to honor that. I want to honor who God has made me to be and the teacher he has created in me.

I’ll get up tomorrow and try again. I will. It’s going to be really hard and I know I won’t get it right all the time. But I will try.

{This post may self-destruct in a couple of days. I know my blog is private and all but I have no desire to be dooced anytime soon. }


  1. Hey there - I really admire your desire to change things up. I taught in a similar situation, and this sort of thing can be a real morale killer. At the same time, it's really hard to avoid without isolating yourself entirely from the community. One thing I found quite helpful was to remind myself why I was there, and who (whom?) I was serving - the students. Putting them, their education (both intellectual and ethical) as the firm center of my universe helped me enjoy teaching more and helped me organize and anchor my professional practice around what was really important. Hang in there and good luck with your resolve - you can shift the energy - I know you can!

  2. I have felt this way SO much lately too. Less tweeting, less blogging, less talking because I just want to WHINE about my STUPID STUPID JOB and the STUPID STUPID people around me. :) Thanks for reminding me a) I'm not alone and b) I'm called to more than that.

  3. So I'm not getting your updates in my side bar and I come check you out and realize I've got TONS to catch up on!

    I've worked where you work - heck I do it right now. It's such a strain - on all areas of your life. I've got ONE, count ONE, good friend here who holds me accountable. Hope you can find her there...

  4. I hear you and I want to encourage you. You know where I spend my days...
    This is what I'm learning: Rather than avoid something, create something. Notice that one positive thing, story, person, piece of news, etc. and talk about it. Then notice the next one... Pretty soon you won't think to avoid the critical folks; they'll be avoiding you.

    And best of all, you'll notice that those around you have different faces. They will be personable compassionate and empowering. Live there, instead. By choice. Know that you are co-creating in these moments with life and these dear ones the future that YOU choose to live.

    Take some deep breaths. You can do hard things.
    xo, Marmee

  5. Your Marmee is so smart! And as her namesake, I have to pipe up too.

    I so admire you for articulating that and wanting to change it - it's what I have felt so many times and haven't come close to saying well. Think of a quick response that gets you away from the negative Nancys, then use it often and go instead to your laughing place. I am a firm believer that we choose how to respond to things - "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul" - with God's help.

    Love you.

  6. Being salt and light sometimes stinks doesn't it? I am right there with you- I think this is the culture of most private schools- we're dealing with the very same thing here- and it's turned into a soap opera- Days of Our Lives can resurrect Hope, Marlena, and John on the same day and turn Sammi into a devil if they want to, it wouldn't rival the drama we're dealing with - and we're talking all adults here.

    And it has sucked the life out of me.

    I'll pray for uplifting for you, and you can pray it for me - we can do this.


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