Are Teachers OK? No, and Toxic Positivity Isn’t Helping

Worrying about masks and COVID. Speaking to college students about TikTok challenges. Attempting to get issues again to regular, after we are nonetheless removed from it. For a lot of, that is educating in 2021. And sure, writing “academics can just about do something” with icing and placing it on a cake within the trainer’s lounge is good. Listening to, “we’re all on this collectively,” is good. Workers Shout-Outs on Fridays celebrating all of the laborious and additional work academics are doing is good. However you recognize what’s nicer? Enough prep time throughout contract hours to plan. Salaries that assist you to deal with one job as a substitute of in search of a second to complement. And the way about faculty cultures that don’t middle on poisonous positivity, however academics’ bodily and psychological well being?

What will we imply by poisonous positivity?

When somebody says to you, “it might be worse” or “look on the brilliant facet,” they may imply nicely, however what they’re saying is an instance of poisonous positivity. Toxic positivity is after we deal with the optimistic and reject, deny, or displace the adverse. In idea, it feels like being optimistic, however in actuality, pushing apart our disagreeable feelings solely make them greater.

In colleges, poisonous positivity might appear like directors urging academics to take time for “self care,” however then loading them down with further conferences and obligations. It could appear like somebody hanging a “trainer robust” banner within the hallway, however not paying for sufficient cleaning soap for the lavatory. It could appear like conversations that encourage academics to “keep optimistic” whereas not digging deeper into the problems that basically matter, whether or not it’s a panemic, fairness, or faculty tradition.

Poisonous positivity has obtained to go: it begins with us

Let’s cease telling academics to do yoga and take baths (until that’s what they need and select to do). Let’s begin advocating for academics and dealing in the direction of systemic change so academics are handled like professionals (many with masters levels) who’re consultants of their content material and doing the necessary work of educating our kids.

And now I’m going to say one thing that may ruffle a couple of feathers. To ensure that issues to alter, it has to start out with us, the academics.

Let’s cease carrying our stress like a badge of honor and begin getting actual

Whereas it could really feel tempting guilty our admin or our district or the Division of Training or our society, that’s not going to make something higher. As a substitute, let’s cease shopping for into poisonous positivity (“we will do that!” and “I solely cried as soon as as we speak!”) and begin being actual (“no, I can’t try this as a result of it isn’t in my contract and I’m not going to work all night time and each weekend as a result of it isn’t in my contract”).

It’s time to shift the tradition from “I can do all of it and extra” to “I can do what I used to be employed to do.” Listed here are the 5 issues I want I had executed once I was educating.

1. Cease exhibiting up early and staying late

I’ve skilled this in each faculty I taught at. There was a passive-aggressive competitors over who labored longer and, subsequently, tougher. It was a badge of honor to be the trainer who was the primary to drag into the car parking zone. Let’s simply cease this. If you wish to get to high school early as a result of that’s if you find yourself most efficient and you’ll, then nice. However if you’re waking up, speeding your morning, and rushing to high school since you suppose you need to, cease. And as for staying late, many people have households and buddies and pets and causes to get dwelling (even when that motive is Netflix).

2. Cease taking work with you all over the place you go

In my first 12 months of educating, I graded essays on Christmas Eve. I stored scholar papers in my bag in order that if I waited in line on the grocery retailer or the espresso store, I might pull them out and get some grading executed. What a technique to stay. I nonetheless get chills once I look within the closet and see the pink tote bag that I carried all over the place. Grade smarter, not tougher. Not every part wants a grade. Chances are high your youngsters aren’t even studying the 9 hundred feedback that you simply spent your Saturday writing.

3. Cease saying sure to extra work since you really feel like it’s best to

I’m attempting actually laborious to eradicate the phrase “ought to” from my vocabulary. Ought to I solely sleep 4 hours at night time so I’ve a superbly crafted lesson plan each morning? I don’t know. I do know that I don’t need to. The extra you give into the “shoulds,” the extra resentment builds up, and I consider resentment is the rationale why many academics depart the classroom. Sure, we’re caretakers. Sure, we love our youngsters. Sure, we went into this occupation as a result of we care deeply about educating and studying. That doesn’t imply that we must always sacrifice ourselves with a view to do extra for others. It’s OK to say no. Actually, it’s precisely what we have to begin doing with a view to be OK.

4. Rewrite the story: the trainer martyr work 24/7 narrative has obtained to go

What number of college conferences have began with a colleague sharing, “I used to be working all weekend to prepare for this week!” or “I barely slept final night time as a result of I had a lot to do!” Sigh. This isn’t a badge of honor, and sharing that you simply don’t have boundaries and work all weekend contributes to a educating narrative that fails to serve you and anybody else. What if we began to say, “I spent the weekend napping and studying” as a substitute of “I needed to do seven a great deal of laundry and grade papers.” Or how about “I didn’t take into consideration faculty in any respect this weekend?”

5. On the finish of the day, educating is a job, and it’s OK to see it that approach

The years that I taught in a classroom are among the years that I’m most pleased with. However once I look again on my educating self and see her working 24-7 and crying in her automotive on the best way dwelling and lacking her youngsters’ parent-teacher conferences as a result of she didn’t have the center to finish her personal on time, I really feel unhappy. I used to be a part of the narrative too. I used to be the “sure” trainer and the “ought to” trainer, and possibly I ought to have stated no and executed some yoga as a result of I wished to. The reality is I noticed educating as a calling, not a job. You possibly can care about your youngsters and love educating and nonetheless depart faculty when faculty ends. If I had, I’d nonetheless be educating.

We’d love to listen to about your experiences with poisonous positivity in colleges. Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, how teachers are creating boundaries right now.

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