So it's been almost two weeks since my commentary was printed in The Baltimore Sun. I have read numerous response letters, sifted through emails, read tweets, perused Facebook posts, and scanned the comments on the article. The responses are all very mixed-- some say I am narcissistic, some say I simply follow the company line, some say I am brave. I have been called some nasty names, but have also been given wonderful compliments. It has definitely been an interesting process, one that I am glad I decided to go through with.
The thing that really strikes me, though, after reflecting on my writing and the comments of others is that no one really read my piece. They read the title.
The Baltimore Sun titled my piece, "Quit Complaining about Common Core". I did not give the commentary that title. I did mention the Common Core three times in my commentary as a part of new changes that are happening in education, but that is where my "support" of the new standards ends. Once my commentary had a title with the words "Common Core" in it, people latched on and camped out on the extreme sides of hate and love (or maybe, more appropriately, support and opposition).
I was interviewed twice about the piece. I was mostly asked about my thoughts on the Common Core, and I answered those questions truthfully. The truth really is that I do support the Common Core for secondary English. I think the standards are rigorous, and really, are not too different than those that were pre-existing with the MSC.
All of that aside, though, my piece wasn't about the Common Core.
It was about teachers who whine. Who complain. Who are so firmly entrenched in negativity that they forget why they teach. Every teacher feels negative sometimes. Maybe its a particularly challenging class that plucks every nerve. Maybe its a problem student who has potential and refuses to acknowledge it. Maybe the copier is down for the 5th time in a week. The problem is, when teachers dwell in negativity, it breeds. It takes over. That negativity can be felt by colleagues and students alike. That is what I was writing about.
I believe teaching is a true vocation and not everyone is cut out for it. Just like I know I am not cut out for nursing. I love working with people, I don't love bodily fluids. I couldn't be a nurse. I do love my job though, so I work hard every day to be positive. Why do a job that you hate, or, seem to hate? If you hate it-- get out. Do something you love.
That is what I writing about.
Each day that I enter my school building I know I will see over 100 students of varying levels of need, ability, and security. I need to be on my toes. I need to be ready. If I hate my job-- I complain, I whine, I put up a fight at every turn over everything-- how does that help those 100 students? Ultimately, my job isn't about standards, it's about students. It's about knowing my students, and working to meet their needs. There isn't place or time for whining and complaining. There just isn't.
So, the moral of this: don't let The Sun give your commentary a headline. And, the headline is really what is worth a thousand words.