That PASSION of yours, it comes through loud and true. BUT what about those naysayers as well as the indifferent? Here’s how to stay true to yourself as a teacher.
You wear your heart on your sleeve – some call it ‘getting worked up’. Me, I prefer to say I’m ‘inspired’ or ‘fired up’.
You know what I’m talking about, right?
That wanting to get in there and give things a red-hot-go – ‘cos even if you fail, or haven’t got it all figured out, you’re doing something new, risky, untried – and you’ll find ways through regardless.
Your students love the pace, love the innovation, love doing something new amidst the ‘same old, same old.’
BUT there’s a big BUT…..
There’s those colleagues who are almost reeling back in horror.
Don’t push it, we need to take things slowly. We have to give people time to come on board.
Do you have to keep going on about….?
What ARE you talking about?
Then there’s those colleagues who show nothing – no interest – not a flicker of excitement at the ideas you’re buzzing about.
How utterly deflating it can be when you get nothing back or there’s total indifference.
How do I stay true to me amidst the negativity – the apathy – the push-back – the indifference?
Stay True to Yourself – Strategies
1. Get Mindful
Consciously tune into or notice the practices – the situations – the places that resonate with you, that lift your spirits. Where you connect with YOU.
When you’re surrounded by negativity and other forms of resistance, it can be easy to feel like you’re drowning in it. I wrote about this in an earlier post.
So MAKE time for you, to notice what works for you. Fuel that spirit that burns within you. Keep it ignited, burning strong.
Consciously build more time in your life for these resonant practices and situations, or special places. And again, acknowledge and celebrate when you do find yourself – being true to You. Build more space around these positive practices and situations.
Being more mindful may also lead to you becoming aware (as I did) of the places that I needed to spend less time in, or ‘get the hell out of’ once I’d built an escape route. For me, this was a critical factor in my staying true to my strengths and passions.
2. Build an Interest Squad
Work and socialise with those who are interested in your ideas. Those who you resonate with and feel a connection with. Numbers don’t matter here – even if it’s just a couple of you – it’s a foundation you can build from.
Trial and refine your ideas. And gather your evidence as you go:
- the parents’/guardians’ positive comments – the students raving about it
- the students’ outcomes including samples of their efforts
- the stories of other schools who’ve achieved success with this idea or strategy
This last practice can be quite potent over time. I read an article recently about the effectiveness of talking about ideas – as coming from other schools or places – rather than coming from yourself: For example:
Did you hear about X school? They’ve had great success with …..when they…
Turns out people can be less defensive or hostile when the idea is seen as coming from another place and NOT from You. There’s less of the whole relationship history to contend with, it seems.
This practice might also be referred to as ‘planting the seed of an idea, tending it, feeding it, nourishing and nurturing it over time. You do so in the knowledge that ‘its time will come’ but you have to be patient and attentive.
And you also need to let go of your ego, restraining that compelling desire to say – “That’s what I’ve been telling you”, or “that’s my idea” if it is eventually adopted.
Now ONE more point here. And it’s crucial. Make sure you celebrate your wins of all shapes and sizes – especially when you’ve stayed true to your passions. Draw attention to them via displays, via casual chats (subtle right!), and any other devious means you can think of.
3. Validate and Support Existing Pockets of Positivity
Notice the inspiring educators around you – those people that are doing things that excite and interest you. Connect with them. Let them know how they’re inspiring you. Spread the word – support them in their efforts.
Here it is about focusing outward – outside yourself – but the benefits will come back to you, your students, and your school.
Stay True to Yourself – Resources
- Make Change Happen: How to negotiate and navigate change especially if you’re not in supportive environments.
- Be Yourself – Run with Your Weirdness: My Insightful podcast chat with Doug Robertson.
- Trust Your Gut. Say Yes to You: Top Tips on the importance of tuning into and acting on your gut feelings.
- Being True to Ourselves: Sometimes it’s not so Easy (Part A & B): Sometimes it’s not so easy to be true to ourselves as teachers. It seems easier to hide who we are so we can survive
- 5 Ways to get from Survive to Thrive – If you’re Hiding Who You Are (Part C): Sometimes living our truth, truly being who we are at work, can cost us. Learn 5 ways to get from Survive to Thrive – if you’re hiding who you are.
- How to Stay True to Yourself: Sometimes we’re full of passion and positivity and hit up against the negativity or apathy of others. Here’s some tips to stay true to you – in this trying situation.
An outstanding post. As one who is often the lone voice of change, I find that the fire is something very important to keeping things moving in the right direction.
The danger with fire is that it can burn too hot and too fast and consume you leaving nothing. It can also burn low and dwindle into nothing but ashes and smoke. Therefore, the fire that burns within each of us must be tended carefully. At times it must burn bright to challenge the tempests that threaten to destroy us. At others, it must be a low ember, conserving energy and waiting for the right moment to strike up anew, but never losing its inner core of passion.
I find that I must retreat from time to time, to clear my head and balance my thoughts. A way to recycle the negative energy that has been put before me so that I can surmount the obstacles. It is when negative energy threatens that I must make the choice… burn low and steady waiting for the right moment to strike… or burn hot and fast and shatter the obstacles before me. Strategy and timing are everything.
Never let anyone claim they can put out your fire. Your fire is what makes you a whole person. Without it, there is nothing but drudgery. I am glad you wrote this post. For those who are battle weary (and I’ve been there) its time to stoke those flames and remind everyone that we have the power to make a positive impact in the lives of all we encounter.
John – you beautifully capture the intricacies and shifting dimensions of the fire within whilst offering strategies for different moments, times, and contexts.
Your reply resonates so incredibly strongly for me and I’m sure it’ll inspire and ‘fire’ up others. Thank you for such a deeply considered and obviously deeply felt reply. Your passions absolutely sear through.