Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Oh, the Wells Fargo Wagon is a’comin…

By on August 30, 2008

So, in a move reminiscent of a 12-year old girl caught up in the riot mentality of rumors, I believed the whisper I heard about not getting my Whiteboard for 2 months.  But I tell you now: it was false, dear readers!  Yes, not only have I heard that the boards have shipped, but the company even came after hours this week and brought me a borrowed board to use in the meantime.  Props for service and courtesy.  

So I write to you today as a contrite tweenteacher.  Lesson learned.  Don’t listen to the gossip in the teacher’s lounge.

So, in an attempt to bring this post around to some actual advice for all you educators out there, I want to reiterate that point: do not waste one minute of your time this year in a toxic teacher environment.  This is different than a Toxic Teaching Environment which can be defined as anything that gets in the way of you doing your job: under-funding, lack of school wide discipline, fractured classrooms, etc…

No, I’m talking about a specific breed of pollution that is meant to choke the enthusiasm out of you: the Toxic Teacher Environment.  

The TTE is the habitat wherein lives the unhappy teacher looking to take you and your enthusiasm down with him or her.  It is detrimental to your own happiness as a teacher that you avoid the following locations: faculty lounge, coffee room, work room, mail room, and the errant hallway where these teachers wait like trolls guarding their bridge, their toll blocking you from the bathroom being that you have to hear their rants about the school community and “nowadays.”  

These teachers suck you in with their 1/2 truths combined with out-of-proportion rant and, yes, gossip.  

So, my dear readers, start the year with your own opinion close to you chest.  Your own take on things prior to others’ corrumption is a precious thing.  But these Toxic Teachers are looking to buzz in their opinions first: their thoughts about the state of the school, state of your job, state of the student. To them it’s a gory game show where they want to hear themselves hit the bell first and loudest without allowing you to mull issues over yourself.  Beware or soon their opinion begins to echo like a soundtrack in your brain.

Preserve your happiness and your own opinion for as long as you can; and remember, that even teachers such as I have a set back every now and then.  It’s difficult not to be swept up into negativity in this job.  It’s one of the things that makes teaching as challenging as it can be, this buy-in and underlying fear that ultimately things are as bad the media and the politicians and the outside world say it is.  

But don’t believe it.  We are in control of our own happiness in this job.  You have the ability to be a joyful teacher everyday.  I wake up everyday excited to teach and reach these kids.  That joy should trump everything else.  If a perpetual frown is burrowing lines into your face at the prospect of teaching, rethink your strategies, rethink your purpose, and if necessary, rethink your career.  

Teaching should be a happy job.  Make sure that you are in control of your happiness, and avoid those people in your workplace whose hobby it is to pull that right to happiness out from under you because they need to feel that they aren’t alone in their misery.  

Know what I say, dear readers?  Leave ’em there on their island and feel grateful that you don’t have to wake up as them everyday. 

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