Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

Chewing on the fish out of water…

on 11 July, 2014

This post is my inaugural post for this year’s #kinderblog summer blogging challenge, which I host over at the #kinderchat site. The first assignment:

Write the post that has been in your head (or your drafts folder) for a while now. You know the one. The one you write while you drive to work, or while you are in the shower. What is the question, or issue, or opinion, or emotions, you have been chewing on for a while now? Alternatively, what is the post that you have started a million times, picked away at, edited and re-edited, and almost trashed?  Did you read an article or a Facebook post that provoked a reaction, and that you can’t stop thinking about? THIS IS YOUR CHANCE.
Be Brave. Write it.

So. Here it is. The truth is, I have about 49 posts in my drafts folder, but this one has been there the longest. Almost exactly a year, in fact….

I started it last July, after returning from a conference:

I was recently in a situation where I was surrounded by teacher bloggers. Not teacher bloggers like me. Teacher bloggers with really cute sites with lots of clip art and custom site designs and handwriting fonts and polka dots. And owls. And chevrons (which, I have learned, is the correct word for what I have always called “zig-zag stripes). And blog buttons, and linkys (linkies? Will someone PLEASE tell me what a linky is? Seriously. I am NOT being snarky. I really don’t understand what a linky is. I know, my teacher blogger card is totally going to be revoked, isn’t it?)

Polka Dot Owl

Polka Dot Owl. Alas, no chevron available.

They were, mostly, girly-girls like I have never been: a room full of VERY shiny hair and VERY white teeth, and manicures, and I’m pretty sure there were some pantyhose and some pearls. It felt a little like what I THINK a sorority would feel like. And I’m not exactly a sorority sort of girl. In fact, until I actually LIVED in a US college town, I sort of thought that sororities only happened in movies.

LORDY, was I a fish out of water. I was literally itchy-on-the-inside. All of my long-lost junior high girl angst was suddenly right there at the surface.

I am not that kind of teacher blogger, but I was in a room FULL of them.

These were NOT My People.

But, there was also: a warm welcome, openhearted generosity, big smiles. Encouragement. Laughter. Curiosity. A person I had never met handed me a gift card when she realized she had two.

There were cookies. Did I mention that? Cookies always help.

But: I squirmed and wriggled. I am not, I was not ever: that kind of girl. I was a HUGE bookgeek (to be clear: *I* was not huge, but my bookgeek-ness was), I was a bunhead (not a studio dancer with competitions and sequins. A Ballet Student, at a Ballet School. Bun and tights and pointe shoes and turnout and class EVERY day and bleeding toes and broken knees.) When other girls starting sneaking into bars, I was at the barre, or too tired from the barre to go to the bar. (Barre/bar puns NEVER STOP being funny, it seems…)

Some of it is cultural – between being a Canadian girl and a West Coast girl, I tend to be an altogether more casual kind of girl than they were.

Some of it is temperament: I am, down to my very toenails, an introvert. Friendly, socially capable, but still: an introvert. And I am TERRIBLE at getting-to-know-you small talk. (This may be why I am also terrible at dating, but that is another story…). These girls (and they were ALL girls, because the only two dudes in the room were my buddies, who were even more out of their element than me): clearly extroverted, most with that very specifically American, even more specifically Southern, gift of being able to strike up conversation with ANYBODY. Seriously – do your moms TEACH you that? Because: wow. It’s amazing. (Again, I’m not being snarky; I sincerely wish I was better at chit-chat, more like some of those girls.)

And then, a very short while after that event, I stumbled into a blog, written by a kindergarten teacher, about a product she had tried in her classroom. I had a question, about a dissonance between two points she made, and I asked that question, in the comments of her blog. Because that’s what I do, on the blogs I read, and that’s what you guys do, here. I ask questions. You ask questions. Sometimes, hard questions. But we ask. And we answer, and we all become better because of it.

But this  time… my question hurt her feelings. Not just the content of the question, but the very act of questioning. She was hurt, felt attacked, by a member of her own profession. I…. was shocked, a little angry at first, and then oh-so-dismayed. I hadn’t intended to hurt, hadn’t wanted to hurt, hadn’t DREAMED that it might hurt.

To her credit, that blogger contacted me, in anger at first, but I responded, and we, slowly, found a place of acceptance, if not quite understanding.

And now, a year after that particular situation, I still find myself bumping into these spaces – virtual and “real” where I am surrounded by people who do what I do, and yet… we may as well be from different planets. It’s like there are 2 kinds of Teachers of Young Children who are active on social media, and we just can’t find a way to HEAR one another.  And it is so easy: SO EASY, when we find ourselves butting heads, to throw our hands up and just walk away because “we are from two different worlds.” It is so much more comfortable, to go running back to Our People, who know us and get us and validate us and speak our language.

But that is not how we grow, is it?

And, after a year of reflecting on this, I truly believe: we have to find ways to bridge these gaps. We all go to the same conferences. We do the same job. We teach the same children, with the same love.We have to find ways to understand each other, to question ourselves, to dig deeper into the uncomfortable conversations, because the uncomfortable conversations make us all better, and US BEING BETTER is only going to help the children we reach and teach and love.

So. I’m going to go first. I’m gonna own some “stuff:”

Hi. My name is Amy, and I teach kindergarten. My classroom does not have a theme. I don’t know what a linky is. I don’t spend all summer re-decorating and re-organizing my classroom. I don’t hand-sew matching cushions for my reading corner every year. I don’t have a TPT account.

I don’t understand why you would blog if it was not to have great conversations; and great conversations include hard questions.

Maybe you don’t understand why I blog with so much… opinion.

I don’t understand why you would blog but not tweet.

Maybe you don’t understand how I have time to tweet SO MUCH.

I don’t understand why having a matchy-matchy colour-coordinated classroom matters SO MUCH.

Maybe you don’t understand how it DOESN’T matter to me.

I think that having a “theme” for your classroom setup and decor, before you even meet your students, is not such a good idea. What if they don’t LIKE owls? Or alpacas? Or baseball? Or cupcakes? (No, wait. EVERYBODY likes cupcakes, right?)

Maybe you have an awesome story about how having a classroom theme helps your kids.

I think that blogging about the many many many hours you spend decorating your classroom puts enormous pressure on new teachers.

Maybe you think that sharing your classroom set up process is your way of helping new teachers.

I don’t understand how you plan a year before the year even starts.

Maybe planning your year in advance is required by your district? Maybe it is what helps you have balance in your life as a teacher? (This is a tough one for me. Planning without knowing your kids seems so, so, questionable, but maybe we should talk about that…)

I think worksheets are ethically questionable, and behaviour charts hurt children.

Maybe you… Ok, I’m really not sure how we find common ground on this one. Maybe you can help. Or maybe we can just have a conversation that will make us both more articulate about our practice, and give us something to “chew on” for a while.

And I’m willing to chew, if you are.

Maybe we could start with some cookies…

 


27 Responses to “Chewing on the fish out of water…”

  1. […] A Tea Cozy. I know this seems like a little-old-lady thing to own, but I tell you, if you drink tea from a teapot, a tea cozy is a life changer. THE TEA STAYS HOT. And yes, they all seem to be made out of fussy cutesy patterned fabrics, but trust me. Hot tea is worth enduring a little chintz. Or polka dots. Or even chevron. […]

  2. Lisa says:

    Loved your post and jumped to it from Angela’s site. I’m a kinder teacher at heart and always will be. Having said that…I too went through the “cutesy” classroom decor phase as a very new teacher loooong before social media was around. In time, I learned as a child development major how distracting this can be for a child. Not to mention that I then learned that we need to “design/build” our classroom environment with our students. That’s a hare sell to SO many teachers out there, but an important conversation to have and keep having. Thanks for sharing this post, for all you do at #kinderchat and for your brave actions to always “keep it real’.

  3. Anne says:

    I don’t like cupcakes. But cookies? “Yes, please” to quote my pinteresting friends. I found you on Pinterest, and I’m glad I did. Can’t wait to spend more time here on your site.

  4. Wow, what a post and what a community you have here, Amy! I am so happy to have discovered you, via you discovering me, via our bizarre mental telepathy! This was so similar to the post I, too, have written in my head so many times, for so long, and yet we both finally hit the publish button the same week (http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/2014/07/big-fish-little-fish-separate-ponds-educators.html). I feel like I have found a kindred spirit.

    There are so many great comments here that I’ll just take the time to share my perspective on the whole “not okay to question” thing. You are 100% correct that there is an entire “pond” (if you’ll let me continue my analogy) of educators who blog not to be questioned, but to be supported. The two are not one and the same to them. Pushback is not constructive, it is negative to them. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

    I have gently tried to help some of these bloggers understand the rationale behind the questioning so they see the positive intent, but again–they are blogging for SUPPORT. They are blogging to sell teaching products and share what they do with their students and to make friends. They do not find pushback helpful. I liken their world to the mommy blogger/healthy living blogger/fashion blogger type of world: generally in those circles, it is assumed that commenters should say kind, supportive things, and if you don’t like what the blogger writes, then don’t read there!

    I hope that is helpful for you in trying to interact with bloggers in those ponds. The tricky part is figuring out who is in those ponds and who is in a pond where blogging is primarily a tool for reflecting deeply on best practices. It’s not easy to tell sometimes. I do not put all TeachersPayTeachers sellers in the former category (I sell on TpT myself.) So, as a general rule and to play it safe, I do not offer pushback unless I have a true friendship with the blogger and/or I see other pushback in the comments and it is welcomed.

    I go back and forth between the different ponds a lot and I truly see both viewpoints. I have friends in both types of ponds. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to approach blogging. You might also want to read my post “The Culture of Cute in the Classroom” (http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/2013/07/the-culture-of-cute-in-the-classroom.html) and also my summary of readers’ responses to it (http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/2013/08/the-culture-of-cute-in-the-classroom-readers-respond.html). I understand all of the issues you raised in this post so much better now after asking teachers in various ponds to speak to the topic. One of the most important points for me to understand was that creating a beautiful classroom is a creative outlet, and also a way to bring some fun and personalization back to a profession that seems determined to suck the very life out of its teachers. Those responses were very, very eye-opening for me.

    Okay, I have totally taken over your comments section and spammed you with a gazillion links…I’m sorry…but I’m so happy to have found you and the reflective, engaging community of readers that are here, as well. 🙂

  5. Cindy Tuisku says:

    I just stumbled on this post. I’ve been teaching kindergarten for almost 30 years with much success. I don’t decorate with “cutesy” or anything commercially made but have created a lovely, calming atmosphere for children, avoiding plastic and embracing natural elements. Artwork is hung from branches suspended from the ceiling and materials are stored in wicker or rattan baskets or wooden totes. Although I understand the concept of a print-rich environment, I limit posters to just a few meaningful ones. Most of my toys are wooden, felted, or cloth. I still have a woodworking center, an inventions center, block area and a playhouse. I’m kind of eclectic that I take the best from Waldorf, Daily 5, Love and Logic, and Whole Brain Teaching. All the clutter/cutesy elements that I find in many classrooms makes my head spin, and I have recently been reinforced in this way of thinking as more articles are coming out indicating that children learn better in a calmer environment. I think it also helps with behaviour to have a peaceful, natural setting for learning to occur. I think kids need some “blank space” and bits of unscheduled time to wonder, process, and organize their thoughts. My classroom is beautiful with just children’s work thoughtfully displayed. Our job is nurturing children and helping them to learn to think for themselves, not to immerse them in commercialism.

    • Jasmine says:

      Do you have any sources for affordable natural baskets/storage? I would like to use this type of storage as well, but I find it’s typically more expensive, so most of my stuff is plastic. I love your branch display idea!

  6. Jasmine says:

    I can totally relate to how you feel. You actually didn’t say a single thing in your post that I disagreed with. I’m not a worksheet girl. I hate dealing with paper when not needed. I absolutely don’t understand the clip chart thing and it makes me sad that it is so popular. Here are some of my thoughts on some of these topics…

    On blogs: I don’t care what type it is, I don’t personally have time to write a blog. Maybe I don’t want to make time for it. Maybe I think no one cares what I have to say. Either way, I appreciate people taking time to share thoughts and ideas of all kinds. The ones that really challenge your mind and the ones that just remind me that I don’t need a worksheet with cute clip art to teach that concept. I do think in our world today the challenge is new teachers. I do feel like they can easily be lead a stray, feel inadequate, or just focus on things that aren’t so important.

    On classroom themes: I don’t understand the need to have chevron or owls on everything and cute sayings (look whooooooo is in kindergarten) and definitely not “decorated” bulletin boards. I start my year with mostly blank walls and bulletin boards with backgrounds and borders, but nothing else. I want to display work and learning. I do have a slight owl theme that I will admit to. My theme includes some of my borders having owls and my door having a little owl with each students name. That’s it. I think having their name on something in the room at open house is welcoming, but the stuff in the room needs to be labeled as we figure each other out. I have somewhat color coordinated or matching baskets. Those are for me, my slight OCD, and for helping students with organization. I definitely think it’s OUR classroom, but I’m part of OUR and I plan on being there a while. The tiny bit of decor and color coordination help me feel at peace and not chaos. It’s just the same as in my home. I like things a certain way. Organized and neat. I also like things to not cost a lot, especially when they aren’t that important. I have owls because they were the item at the dollar store that I liked the most. I have mostly blue and green items I’m my room because those curtains were left by the previous teacher, but it doesn’t stop me from using the red tubs I got on sale years ago. I think for some people the decor part makes them feel comfortable in the space. I agree that too much is distracting, which is why all those bulletin boards have the same background color. And I do think it needs to be a community space. I don’t think a theme or color coordination should take so much time or space. But I understand that some people are just that way. I also think that for some people it’s a way to feel like something is “done”. They are nervous, excited, and don’t know what to expect. The decor is something they have complete control of and it is easier to figure out. At my previous building we had a school wide theme each year. Students voted for themes at the end of the year for the upcoming year. My principal thought it added excitement and helped students feel a part of the school community. It still wasn’t lots of “stuff” on the wall.

    On planning the year: We are required to meet as a grade level team to map out our curriculum; when each objective will be taught. It’s a rough draft and it certainly isn’t a down to the day plan. It’s the admins way of keeping us aware and accountable. It is supposed to help me make sure I hit every area and don’t “run out of time”. I can barely plan a few days ahead when it comes to details of lessons and the day.

    On worksheets: I don’t believe in doing lots of work sheets. I do believe in recording thinking and revisiting learning. I hate to “grade” worksheets. I hate to pass them back. I hate having them all over the room. I’m a very minimal worksheet kinda girl. Some are required by my district but I definitely wouldn’t spend time creating a work sheet. Ugh! I do remember as a child feeling like worksheets were “proof” of what I could do. I loved having concrete things to show my parents. Maybe others see a value in a concrete product? Although you can have a product without being a worksheet. I also dislike using websites that are essentially a digital work sheet and saying that you incorporate technology in learning.

    On making people mad, upset, or whatever: I appreciate challenging thinking. If it makes you feel better, I actually did purchase a TPT product because I was hearing about how awesome this seller was. She was on the news. Her ideas were so great. On and on. I thought maybe I’m missing something. So, I purchased a product. It was essentially a collection of what I would call “old favorites”. Those kinds of activities that most teachers and kids have done. The ones you did in school several times over. Nothing was unique. Nothing was hers but the worksheet she made to go with each. I left honest feedback, saying I was disappointed and that many of the ideas were not particularly original. She hit me back with an angry response and alluded to the fact that if I had not left the feedback and contacted her directly she might have refunded my money. I too, have made one of “those teachers” upset.

    Thank you for posting your reality!

  7. kindergeek says:

    a) I must be a bit letter-confusing-type dyslexic. Every time I read the URL of your blog, I read it as missnightnutters.com. And I think, yeah, she’s a little nutty and I love that in her. Then it hits me that it says ‘mutters.’ Oopsie 🙂

    b) Yes, Sister Introvert! Thank you for this post and the honesty and bravery it took to publish it.

    c) Like another comment-friend said, I’ve been unfollowing a bunch of teachers on FB because they simply exhaust me and make me feel inadequate. Not their fault. I make myself feel those feelings, but seeing their endless rah-rah posts when I feel tired, frustrated and downtrodden is not fun. I need more fun.

    d) And you reminded me of a TPT-related post that I need to finish. Thanks for the nudge.

  8. Eriks says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I’m glad to find a K teacher a little like me!! This week I have been actively disliking other teacher’s pages on Facebook because I realized their vision of the perfect classroom, lesson, and TPT product is the best. I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough when I know deep down I am…but seeing all that is not good for ME and my self esteem. I am also an introvert, a good teacher, but not beautiful. I commend you for opening up your heart as it validates mine.

  9. Thank you for sharing your feelings about being a “fish out of water” in a world of diverse bloggers! I am still struggling to “find my voice” after finally having the courage to become a teacher-author last November. Sharing my passion for using literature and music to ignite and enhance learning experiences for young children was my initial purpose for writing, but I have to admit that my zeal to have success as a TpT resource creator has recently overshadowed my initial intent……and I am troubled by it. I am going to take this month before my school year starts and try and re-focus my energy and my blog topics to be less commercial and more personal, and I appreciate your reminders as to why that is important.

    I do have to admit to being a “decorating queen” though….and I get it from my mother who was THE best party planner around. Fabric, borders, bunting, and coordinating colors…….I love using them to design a welcoming, bright, and colorful learning environment. They are just the canvas though. Student work, and group-created anchor charts, labels, etc. are the masterpieces that are then added to the walls. I like the “whimsy” and the fun that it all adds to our learning space, and over time, have learned that “less is more.”

    This year I will use souvenirs from my summer trip to South Dakota to spark my student’s imagination and help them explore the folklore of the western U.S.

    We will read cowboy stories, tall tales, and enjoy non-fiction books about animals of the desert. Yep!

    Will there be a bandana and burlap around my Math and Reading focus wall? Absolutely!

    Will I wear my cowboy hat when I read Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett? Sure thing!

    Will I have a real horse shoe and a tin star on my desk, and the photo of me on a trail horse to show my class. Yes indeedy!

    Will I will help them make real-life connections to a time and place they may never visit, but have read about in books and seen in movies. You betcha!

    Will we highlight the rhyming words in the verses of “Home, Home on the Range” and pretend we are singing under the stars and around the campfire with my guitar. Uh huh!

    Will I greet my second graders at the door each morning with a big “Howdy partners!?” You can bet your britches, I will….because it will make them giggle and grin. And what better way is there than to start the school day with a smile.

    Thanks for listening!
    ~Jennifer
    http://www.storiesandsongsinsecond.blogspot.com/2014/06/celebrate.html
    storiesandsongs2@gmail.com

    P.S. I was guilty of having a black-and-white chevron area rug last year, and have to honestly say that it made us all a “little dizzy” to look at. Lesson learned!

  10. Kari says:

    As an early childhood educator (3-5 yrs mixed age group), in my experience and education, themes have been finding their way into the “faux pax” realm of early childhood classroom environments. My first few days of the year are spent getting to know children and families and having them create something (i.e. picture collage, flag) with their child which we use to decorate our room with. Other than those things, space is left available to display children’s work, things they’ve collected, created, learned about, etc., as the year moves on. In this way, the space is ours, together, teachers make collages of their families too. This gives it a sense of community and ownership. It also helps reinforce ideas about “taking care of OUR classroom and people/things in it.”

    When an environment is set up by the teacher beforehand, I feel like it sends more of a message of “welcome to my classroom, students, I will teach you everything you need to know” (so much pressure for her/him, yikes!). As opposed to a, I’ll call it, a “community-made” environment, that sends the message, “let’s learn together.” As Piaget and Vygotsky point out, children learn best when they construct their own knowledge and teachers (and peers) act as facilitators of learning. You can let me know how feasible this is in school-aged classrooms with all your standards you have to meet (not to say that we don’t have standards, but we have a lot more flexibility), because I do not have a lot of experience with that.

    While there are still many classrooms with those, well intentioned, but cutsie-themed, often over-whelming, environments, I think conversations like these help us grow as professionals. That is, if we have what psychologist Carol Dewick calls a “growth mindset,” and not a “fixed” one. I’ve am currently reading her book on this and it is great food for thought and applies greatly to education and working with students of any age.

    I appreciate your openness to sharing your thoughts about this important topic. Thank you!

  11. What a great post, Amy! I teach 2nd grade and I’ve never been a “cutesy” teacher. My room is not all color coordinated, nor does it contain chevron; however, I do usually have a general theme… sports, owls, etc to keep classroom decor somewhat coordinated. That being said, my bulletin boards have colored paper and border but remain blank for student work. My walls are pretty empty as well, as I will use that space to post anchor charts throughout the year. I wonder sometimes about the perfectly decorated classrooms and the priorities of those teachers… not to judge, but to wonder: does it make a difference for kids?

    • Miss Night says:

      I think that’s the thing, isn’t it? We have to wonder, before we start judging. We have to talk to each other, and ask questions, and REALLY LISTEN to the answers. We have to be open to the possibility that someone else’s questions may lead us to change what/why/how things happen in our classrooms. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  12. Tina Lageson says:

    Amy,

    This a wonderful post! I appreciate your honest feeling and willingness to open yourself up. I have not put myself on twitter and honestly unclear about how it is used. I haven’t done blogging either but, I have been recently thinking that it might be a way to unlock my thoughts and give me some ideas for my dissertation. I also teach kindergarten and it sounds like we have similar philosophies about teaching. I contribute to the teaching profession by mentoring student teachers and I love it. My classroom students are my heart and we create our classroom community together. I strive to be the best I possibly can be with building relationships but, decorating matters very little to me. I struggle with organization and continually butt heads between top down mandates and what is best for my kids. Any suggestions about how to start connecting with other teachers through twitter and blogging would be greatly appreciated.

  13. sweetfeet63 says:

    So glad I have found you. 🙂

  14. Amy says:

    From one Amy to another: I was so glad to read this blog post! I have missed your posts lately (and I check often) because (among other things) reading about what you do and how you think about teaching and learning makes me feel normal. I think we are probably very different teachers, but I love how often your thinking-out-loud-on-the-screen aligns with mine.

    I also value conversations and wrestling with new ideas. I regularly think outside the box and I’m learning to be ok with that. When I feel certain I am doing what is best for my students and I, I am willing to go it alone and do that best thing, even if no one else thinks it is worthy of the time or effort I plan to commit to it. This is not always the easiest of roads, but it is always the one I feel best about walking.

    After reading your blog for a couple of years, I even felt compelled to start a blog of my own! So far it is a secret, published but unnoticed, because, while I have so many ideas about things, I am nervous about how they (and I, by extension) will be perceived in print. And so I blog on, articulating the thoughts and feelings and hunches I have for me and me alone. Thank you for encouraging your readers…..and me. I gain strength from knowing that there are others who march to the beat of their own drum and live to tell the tale. 🙂

  15. mrssilkie says:

    Your post was very insightful and I agree with you on many levels. I remember during my student teaching my mentor teacher who is an amazing teacher was a stickler on bulletin boards she wanted it to be perfectly decorated. She was a second grade teacher. She knew I wanted to be a kinder teacher and she told me how was I going to be a kinder teacher when I couldn’t create amazing bulletin boards, I am not artistic or cute and I come from the west coast it might be the Mexican in me LOL. I am a kinder teacher now and my bulletin boards and classroom decorations are not fantastic but my kids love learning and that is what I think is important. You are right blogging should not be about selling your worksheets but it should be about meeting new people and getting ideas to use with your kids. The great part about being an educator is making connections and also being able to understand you will not always understand someone else’s point of view but if it works for their kids then fantastic. That is what we are all here for to help the world be a better place. Thank you for writing this so we can be understanding of each other and accept our different teaching styles the same way we work with helping our children who have different learning styles. And for the record I don’t use Owls in my classroom. Owls are not cute to my students they are a symbol of death.

  16. Megan says:

    Amy,

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m not as good with words as you are, but so much of what you said matches my own thoughts. I do have a classroom theme, but that’s where my commonality among myself and “those people” stops. I also do not sell items on TpT. And you know what? I started a blog 2 years ago, because I wanted to connect with other teachers just like me. Teachers who wanted to converse, and question, and share ideas, and reflect. But instead, I blogged a few times, and tried SO hard to make my posts cutesy, like “those other bloggers.” Because I thought that’s what I had to do to be worthy to connect with “those teachers.”

    Soon after, I gave up. Why? Because I didn’t think my posts were “good enough.” Cute enough. And trying to add cutesy clip art to my posts, and borders around all my pictures was SO MUCH WORK. Work that wasn’t helping me to become a better teacher, or helping others become better teachers either. And what did I have to share that was worth anyone’s time? After all, I didn’t have products on TpT to advertise. Companies didn’t contact me to preview their products and then allow me to give one away in a “Rafflecopter” giveaway. Which by the way, what the heck is that anyways?!

    I felt inferior. So I quickly stopped blogging. And I just assumed that there must be something wrong with me. I must just not be as good as “those teachers.” Why don’t my anchor charts look like beautiful pieces of art? Why can’t I somehow fit 5 cutesy craft projects, 10 hands-on TpT center activities, 3 different themed projects, and a class party, all into one day of teaching and then blog about it when I get home along with my latest creation on TpT? And for so long, these thoughts have gone through my head. No matter how hard I work, or how much I care about my students, I’ll never be as good as them.

    So your post was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I am bringing back my blog. But this time, I will feel confident to use it to post my thoughts and ideas, without the need to make my posts look “cute.” I deserve to have people to connect with about a profession I love so much. People to be my cheerleaders. To ask the tough questions. To provide ideas and solutions to difficult problems. To laugh and joke with. And vent with. Because I don’t have to be “one of them” to be an awesome Kindergarten teacher who has a group of “people” to connect with. I am worthy. I am not inferior.

    • Miss Night says:

      Oh, Megan, I have tears in my eyes as I read your comment. Thank you so much for commenting, and for sharing your story. I sometimes think that when we feel most alone is when we most need to blog, because that’s how other “alone” people will find us! Please, PLEASE start your blog up again, and know that I will be reading. In fact, I would encourage you to make this comment into your “first” blog post. I also think you would really enjoy #kinderchat, the twitter hashtag for teachers of young children. There is a whole community of teachers who are baffled by cute, and who support one another without shying away from hard questions or reflection. Just send a tweet tagged with #kinderchat, saying you are looking to connect with kindred spirits, and you will find us! So much love to you, I’m so glad we found one another!

  17. Scott says:

    Your post is great. I find myself skipping through some blogs because they seem so…light and fluffy. And wonder if my blog needs to be something different than it is. I don’t mind questions; they make me think and reflect. But sometimes those questions have a barb in it that seems to suggest that my different viewpoint is so very wrong. Thanks for advocating for dialogue – opportunities to talk about differing ideas and philosophies and…sometimes…agreeing that we just have different perspectives.

  18. Jen Bearden says:

    Amy, I love this! I have read your blog before, shared it with my principal and I think even commented a time or two. But man–I should spend more time here! I am like you in a lot of ways, but I know that there are things I’d like to say that I don’t–and I’m not even sure why. I appreciate your candor and transparency in this post, as well as the way you write (that’s maybe a difference between you and those other bloggers, too–I’m guessing the quality of their writing is not equal to the cuteness of their classrooms. But hey, I could be wrong…). You seem like the kind of teacher I would love to work with, chew on things with (cookies and otherwise!), and that maybe we’d get along. 🙂 You ask great questions here–some I’ve asked myself before but haven’t ever really tried to answer. There really is more that we all have in common than that separates us, and certainly it would benefit all of our kids if we could grab a coffee, pull up a piece of the rug (maybe a chevron rug?) and break bread (no wait, cookies) together to chat about it. I’d be game, so if/when you plan that conversation please invite me, ok? 🙂

  19. Amy,

    While I haven’t yet written the post that’s in my head (and funny thing, you feature in it!) I love that you let this settle in your mind for so long and worked through it.
    I also love the succinct way Faige captured it: there’s being heard, and having others agree with you. When you’re in a room full of strangers, the stakes aren’t as high as when you’re sharing a room or team for a year.

    The post I’ve been meaning to write for a year now is about introverts & extroverts and how we approach the world in public regardless of our feelings and ideas. How much we might have in common though we’re opposites on a coin.
    I will eventually get that post out of my head, but for now I can say here that I can relate, although I am seemingly your opposite in terms of how I approach the world. I am mystified by the world of girls. I spend my childhood up a tree, down a hole I’d dug, in a pond or up a steep cliff. I had no TV until my teen years, though I had pet ducks. I never did learn to put on make-up or walk on heels. My nails are always broken from digging in the dirt or too much water, and the white in my hair stays because I don’t have time for worrying about such things.

    I am, however, an extrovert of the highest order. I don’t know how to turn it off. I never did know how to be quiet around people, though I am probably happiest alone outside. It pains me to keep my opinions on the down-low, but much like my childhood realization that everything I loved was “weird” by “normal” standards (according to my small-town peers), when I had taught for a few years and began to form my own ideas about teaching and learning, I slowly realized that my ideas would (again) make people uncomfortable with me. I say slowly because I was excited about the PD I was taking and always wanted to share what I’d heard and seen. It took me a while to understand why it was better to keep it to myself. I became very lonely, wanting so badly to share, and thus attending every available PD session, workshop, or seminar I could get to. I remained guarded, though, always listening for signs of “Oh, that’ll never work in my class!” or “That’s fine, but what about the kid who never visits the writing centre?”. I’m learning that sometimes it’s okay to say “Why have a “writing centre”? We use writing everywhere in our day, kids should have the same option”. I do try hard to see what appeals to others in ideas that go against the grain for me, so I really appreciated your post.
    For me right now, I’m accepting that sometimes it’s okay to offer a different perspective, while other times it’s best to listen respectfully and accept that someone is holding tight to their “No, but” frame of mind. I try to be more “Yes, and”, but as the extrovert, it pains me when I turn people off with my ideas so I don’t always share them.

    I’m also keenly aware of my talkative style in writing, so I apologize for the frequency of the commas. It comes out of my head this way.

    As for behaviour charts and worksheets? You had me at “questionable”.

    Laurel

  20. Chrissy says:

    Great post 🙂 I had lunch with Meredith today and we talked about the Conference that we did not attend this year. Both of us said that dinner with you, Jon, and Matt was the highlight for us. <3

    I'm an American cheerleader kind of girl. I'm happy to encourage others and hope for success all around. That being said, I had to draw back from the blogosphere (but not Twitter!) this year because 99% of what I read/saw did not even remotely match my daily experiences. And I grew tired of clicking a link only to find the post was a thinly veiled commercial for a product.

    I'm glad you dragged this out of drafts.
    I'm delighted to be your friend.
    Can't wait to see you in '15!

  21. Christine says:

    Brave and honest thoughts! You have raised the thorny issue that sometimes comes with professional discourse. Yeah, those questions are just that-hard! I have made teachers cry when asking those hard questions. We can take things personally. I want to say “get over yourselves”, but that’s not what coaching and mentoring is about and it doesn’t make me a better professional, to say nothing of what it says about my humanity. Like Faige has said above, I’m not perfect either. But I have experiences to share and I want you to ask me those questions that push my practice forward by making ME THINK. If you bring cookies, it is always a good idea. And I usually bring the Kleenex, just in case.

  22. faige says:

    Not an easy one. Do I want people to always agree with me, no. Do I want my voice heard, yes. Does it matter if I am right more than wrong , I don’t know. I am not perfect, my room is shared space with my teaching partner, I have guidelines that I need to follow; some so totally me, some my balancing act is incredible. AND, thanks for pushing that envelop.

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