Monday, December 9, 2013

Negativity Kills Creativity

I like to think that I'm a creative teacher who really strives to try out of the box ideas to make my classroom as fun and exciting as possible.  But in saying that, doing things like that doesn't come without some sort of push back.  Over the years I've been shut down by administration, other teachers, parents, you name it!  I used to think that it was just me who was always getting told no, or that my ideas were terrible, or that I wasn't good at what I was doing.

As I've become connected to teachers all over the country (and the world) I've learned something.  I've learned that the battle for creativity is not a battle I fight alone.  I am not the only one receiving push back for some of the things I want to do.

But what I've learned, especially lately, is the power of words, and more importantly the power of negativity.  When you try to do exciting and creative things in your classroom or school, you are putting yourself out on a limb.  A limb where people can criticize.

Used to, when I was growing up, if someone was going to say something bad about me, they said it to my face or to others behind my back.  We've all been there.  We've all heard about something someone was saying about us, and it hurt.  And sometimes it hurts more than we can bare.  We're humans, we long for understanding and we want to belong.  But when someone tries to damage our character it leaves scars.  And scars can heal, but they'll always be there.

But that was then.  Nowadays we don't only have to listen to what is being said about us to others or behind our backs, but now we have to also read about it online.

Before I go any further let me admit something.  Years ago I had allowed circumstances in my life to define who I had become.  For years I had allowed myself to become bitter, angry, jealous, and negative.  I used to say "let's expect the worst, so that if it doesn't happen I can be happy I tried it".  I was angry at the world.  And my anger made me become an extremely negative person.  And I know in that period of my life I hurt people with my words and opinions.

Then one day I saw the damage my negativity was doing.  It was one of those 'wake up calls'.  And I knew I couldn't go back.  For me, it's a daily battle to remain positive.  So why do I do it if it's so difficult?  Because it's so necessary.

As educators we have enough people tearing us down.  We have enough people telling us we're not doing it right, we're not doing it good enough, or that what we're doing flat out doesn't matter.  We're surrounded by it.  Period.

So then, why as educators do we so often choose to attack our own?  Why do we choose to talk about other educators in person, behind their backs, on blogs, or on social media.  Why aren't we choosing to be better?  Why aren't we choosing to band together?  Because honestly, we ARE all in this together.

I've read so many hateful and hurtful tweets, facebook posts, blogs, and more lately.  Other educators complaining about teachers who do this, or teachers who do that.  Or Twitter should be used for this, or facebook should be used for that.  There is so much negativity and meanness being spread around, and more importantly, there is so much HURT being spread around.

I've sat back the last few weeks and heard story after story from my friends as they get ripped to shreds for doing this, or saying that, or trying this.  And it breaks my heart.  I've wept for the people I've seen be hurt recently.  And I admit, I'm part of the crowd too as I've listened to others tear me down recently.  But my  heart hurts more for those teachers who are incredibly inspiring people and I sit back and watch others try and break their spirits, and sometimes the negative crowd wins, and spirit is broken. And that's the worst part.

So why do I write this blog post?  I write it today to remind you of the importance of words.  Those spoken and those written.  We have enough pain and hurtful things going on around us, why would we choose to add more pain to someone's day.  The next time we want to complain or be negative, let us pause, think, and find a way to flip it around where we find the brighter side, or we keep our thoughts to ourselves, or we just don't say anything at all. Because it's true, negativity kills creativity, and in the end the person that it hurts the most are the children who are watching our every action and expect us to set the example for them to follow.  Let's show them what love, compassion, understanding, and a kind word looks like.  Let's show them why we chose to be teachers; to set an example worth following.