Dear Teacher

I wrote this yesterday after the gossip train hit me hard. I debated with myself if I should post it on my facebook page. It is a hard time of year for teachers and I have been hit by the rumor mill before. I’d thought I’d share it here. I don’t know yet if I have the courage to share it on facebook. I’m trying to open myself up to help others but I also don’t want to be the “pot calling the kettle black.”

I just thought I’d share this to show maybe how gossip and rumors hurt. Most of the time things we share aren’t even true and we think it will never get back to the person. It usually does and it hurts. This is a reminder to myself and maybe someone else, that our word hurt and it is a good idea to not spread lies or hearsay.

“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.”

― Neil Gaiman

Sometimes something bothers you so much that it really eats at you. I get frustrated and mad when something takes up too much of my head space. Especially something that usually doesn’t bother me. I think it is because it is the end of the year and I’m already tired, this might be why certain comments got to me in a way that makes it hard to be a teacher.

You see I don’t really know many teachers at the high school. We are pretty isolated in our halls. I only really interact with those who come lunch.

So what do you think happens when you spread gossip and lies about another teacher? You put them even further in isolation.

In the past eight years I’ve come to not care what most teachers say about me. I can honestly say that they don’t know me or my teaching style, at all. Like, zero. I have never had another teacher come into my room and watch me teach. Never. Nada. When I hear that I’m a “bad teacher” I just laugh it off since they never saw me teach.

Because where did they get those ideas? From other teachers? Well, I haven’t had another teacher in my class so what would they know? From the students? Um, I’m going to tell you right off that students had told me on multiple occasions that other teachers were horrible. I can promise you that the rumor stops with me. I know not all students will like me or other teachers. Sometimes they don’t like teachers because they make them do work… gasp. Then that leaves the admins. All the admins who were in my room had nothing to say about me being a horrible teacher. I would like to think they wouldn’t say anything behind my back to other teachers. I believe that. I think we have a great group of admins in the building.

Then that leaves the fact that you are just assuming I’m a bad teacher even though you never saw me teach. Since that is all that is left.

I mean, that is kind of harsh. Then you tell other teachers (who I never met) that I am a bad teacher. Thus the journey to isolation begins. Since no one wants to hang out with the “bad teacher.”

It is no secret that I’ve struggled with my mental health. I’ve even gotten to the point where I almost ended my life. It took a community of support to help me stand up again. This community came from a group of writers who are still my pillars today.

The cool thing about these writers is that they actually read my work. But they don’t go around saying I’m a bad writer. They actually help me get better. I know, crazy concept. They read and help me. I read and help them. In this way we built a community of support around each other. The goal:  To make our writing better.

What if instead of dragging me down and spreading rumors and lies about what I teach, maybe you could come and help me? Then I could help you? I’m sure there is a lot that can be learned from each other as a teacher. We face parents, communities, and students who try and drag us down. Why are we dragging each other down? In even writing this I have to admit when I first started it was easy to say another teacher was bad or not good at their job. I had to take a hard look at my life and what kind of person I wanted to be. Did I want to be the type of person to drag others down to make myself feel good? Or did I want to be the person to help others up?

My writing community took me out of the darkest place in my life. It is in a large part thanks to them that I’m still alive. My teaching community is something that I don’t really feel a part of. I’m isolated. I try my best for my students. I have failures as a teacher just like I do as a writer. The only difference is I have writers to bring me up again. I have a small amount of teachers who do, so sadly it only takes a few to tear someone down.

When you gossip and lie that is what you do. You tear that person down. You take away any encouragement that others gave. Do I really need to say that gossip hurts others? Because it does.

I made a promise to myself not to gossip about others. I hope and try to do that because I know what it is like on the receiving end. Since I don’t know the person what right do I have to talk badly about them? What right do I have if I do know them? The truth is I don’t. I never have the right to judge others. In the past I have lost friendships. I hurt people. This is why again, I make the choice every day to try and lift others up instead of tear them down. A quote from one of my writing groups is “A rising tide raises all ships” if we helped instead of gossiped what amazing teachers we could be.

I said before when I hear rumors about any teacher. It stops with me. I’m not great at confrontation but I don’t continue a rumor. That is a promise I will always try to keep.

I’m thankful to those teachers who helped me out over these last few years. It is encouraging to have you in my life. I hope I helped and encouraged you in some way too. Also how you came together and helped me after my surgery which took way longer than I thought to recover from. The cards, the food, and the visits helped me get through. Since it is a weird thing in a teachers mind that if we miss work we are a bad teacher. You helped me get through that month where it was hard for me to even walk around the classroom for over a month due to pain. You all made me feel like I wasn’t a useless teacher. Thank you. Thank you so much.

As teachers we could be so much more if we helped each other or even communicated. One year I remember I was completely left out of the choice to change novels for a class. Everyone else got the novel and I didn’t. Thus the infamous year of Serial began. I started it because I was left out (here comes the theme of isolation again). Then I saw the power of that unit. The admins in my room also saw it too. So I’m also not sure where the rumor started that I was told to stop teaching it. I have had four admins tell me to KEEP teaching it so… But don’t worry when we get our new curriculum I will fall in line with the rest. I just wish you could have seen the students and how much they learned from that unit. I worked hard on it. You never saw that either.

Despite the side tangent. There are a few things that I wish for my teaching community. I wish that we could help instead of tear down. I wish that everyone could be included. Right now I’m on the outside with a group of people. We tend to joke about being the outcasts in the department but honestly it really is true. Maybe part of that is our own fault too for not being the ones reaching out. I’m going to be honest I did try but after a couple years I stopped. However, we are a pretty cool group to be in you should get to know us a bit. You might be surprised.

In the end I wrote this really long essay that I won’t count toward my word count goal for the day ;). I did it to help drain the poison that infected me. It gave me a few sleepless nights. Writing helps me get over things. This way I can go back to ignoring comments said by those who don’t know me. Because I don’t want to focus on the bad. I want to focus on the good that other teachers brought into my life. This is the way that I can get back up again. I made that choice three years ago that I would keep going, so this is it. I’m still breathing and going. That is all I need.