The Jerk Store Called...


I originally posted this blog on the EdReach Disruptors channel last week. In addition to my readers over there, I wanted to share it here for those of you that may not have read this. If you are not a follower of the EdReach crew, I strongly urge you to check out some of the great stuff they are doing. 

The Jerk Store Called...

Ever since I was a young, I was accused of being a troublemaker. I questioned authority and was seen as a boat rocker.  I never took things at face value and many would have considered me a skeptic. In some cases, I was called an outright jerk…and other colorful names. Now, I always thought these character traits had value and allowed me to be a more reflective and honest person. However, recently I have been told that maybe I need to stop doing that. I have been told that I do cause trouble and when I question and challenge things it's not good or productive.

When I say that maybe we don't need principals or need to look at that role differently, people get upset. When I question if the flippedclassroom is an instructional model we should value, I ruffle some feathers. When I share my beliefs about homework and how I think students should learn, I get raised eyebrows. When I share honest opinions and observations that I have as a teacher in a public school, I have people that are frustrated with me and my honesty. Recently, I was told that if I would just conform and go with the flow, I would be much happier.

The problem is…I can't do that. I'm not even sure I know how to do that. When I see something that in my opinion is wrong, I'm going to say something about it. When I see there might be a better way to do something, I'm going to speak up. On top of that, I ask a lot of questions to hopefully cause some thinking and in some cases to challenge conventional so called “wisdom”. I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut when there are things that are just not “right” for kids and learning in our schools. My sense of right is not the same as others, but I at least welcome the conversation and discourse.

I really think that far too many teachers conform, go with the flow and take just about everything at face value. They don't challenge things. They don't question things. They don't stand up for what they know is right for the profession and for the students they teach. As a result of this, they're taken advantage of and in the end it is the kids that suffer. I just can't help but think of the positives that could come about if more teachers would stand up and question the status quo. Just think of what kind of educational system we could have if we had teachers advocate for themselves and for their students without fear of repercussions. We teach our students to self-advocate and raise questions but are we modeling that in our own lives and careers?

Yes, some people don't like me. Some people think I'm a jerk or that I cause trouble or that I speak my mind a little too freely. That is probably true. There are probably times I should keep my mouth shut and just go with the flow and toe the line. However, I just can't help but think that if I do that nobody's going to step up. Nobody's going to speak out and we're going to keep doing things the way we've always been doing them. I challenge you to stand up to speak out, be a troublemaker, rock the boat and challenge things. Even if things don't change, I can hope people will start talking and writing if for no other reason than to react to me. I hope people will start reflecting and looking at things in a different manner. At the end of the day I just want people to think. Thinking and conversing is how change will be possible…

8 comments:

Mary Bauer said...

This is why I read your blog: I can't quite go with the flow either. I feel like I have to fight bureacracy for what is right.
Keep sharing your ideas.

Sue Downing said...

"Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn't, do something else." Franklin Roosevelt

Josh, keep on questioning, pushing, and prodding. Most of all, keep on writing things that make us think and dream.

Anonymous said...

Would you really be happier if you suppressed all your thoughts? I doubt it! I appreciate your honesty and wish more educators around the world would be willing to step outside their comfort zone and push for change!

MSeigel said...

Josh,
I know you don't contribute to this blog for self gratification, but I will tell you there are so many people out there just like you, including myself. I question what I do all the time, thinking that maybe if I just lectured and shut my door like so many others, I would be happier. But, it is not who I am. I like pushing the envelope, I like showing my students a slightly different view of the world than they see the rest of the school day, and I enjoy being exhausted at the end of the day because of all the great things my students are doing.

You have said you never want to leave the classroom, but more schools need leaders (call them principals or whatever you want) who are going to make system-wide change and you can't really do that as a teacher. Schools need people like you who are going to bring in new ideas, work with both new and veteran teachers equally to raise standards, and to inspire students throughout the entire school to better themselves.

You are a good man, Charlie Brown. Keep fighting the good fight.

Kayla Altland said...

I agree, yet schools and education, and most importantly the kids are the ones who need us to keep evolving and asking questions and challenging the status quo. Although it may seem like a fighting battle upstream, its their successes and lives that make it worth it.

Pam Homan said...

I don't recall how I found your blog, probably out surfing around looking for good ideas. Because that's what good teachers do--they are always looking for better ways to explain what they mean. Good teachers are always looking for another way "in" for their students. Good teachers aren't ending their day when the bell rings, they're tweaking, and imagining, and looking.
Thank you for your posts. I start teaching "for real" in less than a month, and have found you and the teachers you follow to be good mentors.

Christian Klaue said...

There can be two ways of looking at this. Some question, challenge, and stir things up just for the sake of questioning. Others question to improve. It sounds like you are questioning to improve. In that case, you are doing something...that is working...so keep it up.

Christian Klaue said...

Some question, challenge, and stir up emotions just for the fun of it. Others question, challenge and stir up emotions with the goal of improving circumstances. You are challenging for the sake of improving circumstances. In that case, you are doing something...that is working...so keep it up....