Now if you have read some of my contributions to sites like Dangerously Irrelevant, I too have been drawn into this type of behavior at times, but I think there is a fine line which I to have crossed between criticizing practices and flat out people bashing.
There is not an industry out there that doesn't have its fair share of characters. This includes not only those who are less than capable and those who are a down right disgrace to their organization. Then there are also those who are like most people, having their good and bad days. Those who are one day an inspiration to the students they work with and on other days say things that have ramifications equally as destructive.
I am extremely disappointed that as a profession, we often put each other down far more often than we say good things about one an other. This has become a cultural norm not only in the educational profession but in others as well. Just take a look at political campaigns. The spend very little time talking about what they will do to better our system, but rather spend millions of dollars decimating their opponent. I am not sure that I know anything about what the candidates stand for and are wanting to do, but I can tell you oodles of things about each and every mistake they have made and skeleton in their closet.
What we as educators need to understand that we are not in competition with each other but rather all on the same team. We need to spend more time communicating the strengths of our colleagues and leaders, rather than sharing every mistake they might make.
I ask the other teachers in our building to make 10 parent phone calls a week. I stress that these phone calls are to communicate both the struggles and the accomplishments of the students. In other words, don't just call parents to tell them about how big a pain in the ass their kid was today without being willing to call them on another day to tell them about how great their child did on a test, quiz or maybe even a kind word they extended a fellow student.
I am trying very hard to make this a positive post. One that will inspire positive communication and collective efficacy within our educational organizations and not just another teacher bashing rant.
These positive things happen in all schools, they just need to happen more often. The unethical behavior of running another teacher down to a parent or a student need to cease. We need to remember that those who live in glass houses best not cast stones. I assure you that we work in glass houses in education. People are eager to look in and when they see something they don't like cast a big stone rather than offer encouragement.
I spoke with a student in my office today who was complaining about a teacher. They were quick to point out all of the teacher's flaws, but had to be reminded of all of the wonderful things this teacher had done for her. I had to explain to her that she is not the only one who is stressed out by school. She had to be educated about the fact that teachers are people too and that they make mistakes, get upset and say things they don't really mean just like students do. No we hope that they do these things less often that the normal person would as we want all teachers to be encouraging, compassionate and self-sacrificing at all times. We want them to live their job and leave all their personal stresses at home. We want them to be flawless in what they do, how they treat people, how they grade work, etc.
I believe that sometimes we all forget that we are all just people. That we do have lives outside of the school day and should. That we may not get everything done in a day and should not be expected to stay up all night to ensure everything is perfectly planned for the next day.
It is easy to get sucked into the practice of bashing others, it is often easier to hang our undies on the inside and outside lines, but as a profession we do ourselves no favors in bashing our peers as in the end, we are all lumped together as teachers in the mind of those we serve.