Monday, April 13, 2015

Are We Too Humble?

As part of the blogging group #compelledtribe we are sharing something new we attempted in our work this year to better ourselves as educators. One of the things that I have tried, is blogging more regularly, and having the courage to put my convictions, learning and reflections, out there, in print for all the world to see. Blogging more regularly has helped me to reflect on my own learning, and to think more deeply about what truly matters in education and leadership. It has helped me to engage with others and to wrestle with some of the challenges that we face. It has helped me to recognize that there are many opportunities for educators to share their stories and the stories of their school community, and that this can be one way to impact and influence conversations about the education system. I'm not sure that we take full advantage of our sphere of influence, and it is imperative that we do. What stands in our way? Maybe we are too humble. And with that, I give you...

Are We Too Humble?

Teachers are a pretty humble lot. Most of us don't like to boast, stand in the spotlight or "toot our own horns." We quietly go about our work, and are both gracious and polite. I mean just look at the definition provided to us by Google Search...

Anything surprising? The definition seems to fit, I'm almost surprised that a picture of a teacher doesn't pop-up alongside it. I think our humility, at least in part stems from the fact that for so many of us teaching is much more than a career or profession. For many of us teaching is a vocation, a calling. Whether we chose teaching, or teaching chose us, we do it in service of others. This has had a profound impact on the professional culture, and I think it has, in part made us targets. I won't spend a lot of time in this post talking about the current state of education in this country, you can read about my thoughts regarding it, in my last post titled, Better Days. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that we become a boastful lot, but I do think we need to challenge the idea of being humble, at least a little bit.

As noted in the definition provided by Google, humble is both synonymous with self-effacing, but it is also synonymous with meek, submissive and unassertive. This my friends, is where there is a problem. We need teacher leaders. We need educators that are bold, that are willing to stand up for the profession, advocate for students, take risks and tell the true story of education in this nation. We must do a better job of sharing our stories, the educational journeys we embark on with our students, the ways in which we have collaborated and pushed one another to innovate and improve the system, and we must celebrate the hard-work and dedication of our colleagues. If there was ever a time for meek, submissive and unassertive educators, that time has certainly passed. Now is the time for us to be bold, to speak up and speak out, and recognize our sphere of influence and the impact that we can have.

Speak Up...

I was truly honored this weekend to be nominated for a Bammy Award. The Bammy's are a powerful way that we can share our stories, support one another and celebrate all that is good in education. What is really great about these awards is that all of us can nominate our colleagues to receive recognition with the Educator's Voice Awards (learn more here). I nominated Steve Garraffo, LCSD Director for Elementary Education, for such an award. (This will take you to his nominee's page.) I think it is truly important for us to share all of the wonderful things that are happening here, and across the nation. I hope you will help spread the word, vote for some of the nominees, and nominate others. There are great things happening, and we have the responsibility to share them!


  1. Christine, very thoughtful post. I was having this moment this weekend at the GAFE summit. I was approached by many saying jonathan I follow you on Twitter, you're amazing, etc. and even though you like hearing compliments I also don't.

    I personally don't see myself any different then the next teacher. I may be at a different stage in my career or continuum of learning but no different. It's hard to know how to react to all of the compliments. We want to be humble as a teacher, we do it like you said because we love it. It is part of who we are.

    I realized though that I do need to spend more time being a little less humble but moreso pushing others to be more amazing. My wife mentioned that maybe I should say, thank you so much, how is your journey going? What take away did you try in the class? Why?

    I personally think that all teachers have the ability to affect change on so many levels. Thanks for this post.

  2. I am not sure we are modest, I think we are quietly competent. Since education is the largest profession and everyone knows several teachers, admin or support staff I think we are just too big of a population to be 'special' enough to be of higher regard, which makes those who choose to be overtly expressive to be labelled as boasters (unfortunately that happens very often in our profession, we can't push that off on the public.)

    The other problem I see is that although everyone is familiar with educators, they really have no idea what we do. I think that the over-familiarity with us coupled with having no idea what we do (but they really believe they know exactly what we do) makes it very hard to have education conversations with others outside the profession. We are stuck.

    It will continue to be difficult for a long time if our culture doesn't change, but that does not mean we shouldn't try to change it. First we need to get our profession in order (by which I mean educate teachers about what being professional means) , next we need to promote all teachers and finally we need to behave as though our profession is valuable to the public.

  3. Christina, I always go right to your posts to read what you've written and appreciate your reflections! I agree that great things are happening. They should be celebrated and the skilled and dedicated teachers doing the work (LIKE YOU) should be honored!