I have been given quite the opportunity to travel and speak in different places around the United States. I talk about technology, inspiring kids, and changing campus/staff culture.
But lately, I've noticed a theme happening. A kind of disheartening theme.
Many times, after I finish a presentation/keynote/whatever I'll have teachers come up to me, many times with tears in their eyes and say things like....
- but what if your principal doesn't support you at all
- what if you're the only one who wants to be innovative
- what if all everyone does around you is complain and talk down about kids
I've been there. I've worked for administrators where one was the best ever, another went to jail, another was a screamer, and another was the worst ever. I've worked in schools myself where I felt like everyone was annoyed by me or what I was trying to do. Where I felt like I had almost no one to turn to.
The first thing I did that helped was I found Twitter. That gave me a place to connect with others who would build me up, challenge me, and encourage me. It gave me a sense that I wasn't fighting a battle alone.
But I often tell teachers, when they come to me with those major concerns heavy on their heart, that I truly believe one person can change things.
When I have teachers come to me with the "what ifs" I remind them that they CAN change things. It won't be easy, it won't come right away, but you always start with the kids. Sometimes the loudest voices we can use in the school (but often forget about) are the children. Let them and their actions speak for what is possible.
I often used my students to encourage other staff members, to speak out about the things they wanted to do or ways they wanted to learn. It's easy for one adult to ignore another. It's much more difficult to ignore kindness or an impassioned plea from a child.
So for those of you who are fighting the fight, I say this, hold on.
Find a group of people (whether online or in person) and pull together. Surround yourself with positivity and don't allow the negative people to drag you down.
But most of all, invest in the kids. Teach them about kindness, forgiveness, passion and more. Let them tell the story of what is possible. Allow them to use their voices.
Don't give up. Don't give in to hopelessness. Even the tiniest flicker of light will always break through darkness.