I’ve heard podcasters in other niches do this episode format, and it was really interesting to listen to. I felt like I knew them much better afterward. I also related to a lot of what they shared — it made me feel less alone to hear someone else admit the things that a lot of people think and feel, even if we’re not always talking about it.
So, I thought I’d put myself out there and tell Truth for Teachers listeners some facts that are embarrassing for me to admit. You’ll find a condensed transcript below, but please listen to the whole episode if you want to hear the full story.
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1) Working with kids was not my favorite part of teaching.
Not every teacher is drawn to the profession for the same reason. I know for many teachers, it’s all about the kids, and spending time with them is the best part of the job.
But for me, the most rewarding part was solving problems, designing learning experiences, and creating systems that made teaching more effective and efficient. My favorite part of teaching was the creative aspect. I was drawn to this field because I wanted to design lesson materials for the kids, and I loved planning out our curriculum.
In fact, I would happily spend all evening making centers and games and hands-on activities, and then be disappointed when I was done and it was time to actually implement them. That’s why I’m so happy in my current role, where I get to just make the resources, and teachers who wish they could just teach can focus on the part that THEY love.
2) I don’t miss being in the classroom as much as I feel like I should.
When people ask me, “Do you miss being in the classroom?” I feel like the right answer is yes because I’m supposed to miss being with the kids. But my favorite part of the job — which I got to do maybe 20% of the time — is something I get to do 100% of the time now (writing, making stuff, being creative).
So I have moments where I miss certain aspects of the work, but honestly, no, I don’t miss being in the classroom. It would be extremely difficult for me to thrive in a bureaucratic system at this point in my life. I don’t do well with following rules, especially when the rules don’t make sense to me, and I really am much happier working for myself. I love having full control over how I spend my time and which projects I take on.
3) I write so much about mindset, motivation, and productivity because I struggle with those things myself on a near-daily basis.
If any of those things were easy for me, they wouldn’t be compelling enough topics for me to continue researching and experimenting with for so many years.
I have lots of days when it’s hard for me to get motivated, and I am especially distracted by social media. So, I’m continually experimenting with productivity strategies and mindset tricks that help me stay focused on what matters and use my time in a way that’s meaningful and satisfying.
The only gifting I have in this area is that I can often see solutions that others can’t. My mind works in such a way that I can see “the forest AND the trees” as well as the unmarked paths through them. But even though I can see the most effective way to do things, actually doing it is just as hard for me as it is for everyone else!
4) I’m embarrassed by many of the things I’ve written and ideas I’ve shared in the past.
I started sharing ideas online back in 2003, and both education and the world in general changes so quickly every year. Plus, I am constantly learning and growing. The things I truly believed years ago are not necessarily the same advice I would give today, or maybe I wouldn’t say things in exactly the same way.
Generally speaking, I wish I could redo everything I wrote more than 2 years ago. This has always been true: back in 2008, I was embarrassed about everything from 2005 and prior, and so on.
Even though I know objectively most of it is fine, I can’t un-know what I know now, and there are always things I wish I had added or changed to make things better. Sometimes I’m able to update older things if it’s in a blog or digital teaching resource, but that’s not the case with stuff I’ve put in print (specifically my books). I just have to accept that what I wrote then was a snapshot of my thinking at the time, and keep moving forward.
5) I completely missed the equity lens for a long time and stayed silent even when I knew things that could have helped other teachers.
It’s taken a lifetime of influences and experiences to bring me to the understandings I currently have. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time learning about creating equitable learning conditions in our schools and social justice (racial justice, specifically), and yet, I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t begin sharing that knowledge with you all until 2015.
I knew that the topic would make some people uncomfortable, and I didn’t want fans of my work to feel that way or get offended. And, I didn’t feel like enough of an “expert” to write about that stuff. How could I teach you something if I didn’t feel like an authority on it?
There was an incident three years ago that changed my perspective, and made me feel like I had to speak up, even if I did so imperfectly. I realized I was wasting my platform if I didn’t use it to share information that would help teachers have a deeper understanding of how to reach their students and make connections in the communities they serve.
I feel like I’ve learned to see through a wider lens every year. At first, I just saw classroom management. That led me to study mindset issues, which led me to focus on productivity as well as equity. Each year, I find myself pulling further back to get a bigger perspective, and that always makes my earlier work seem naive or incomplete.
So while I wish that I had a deeper perspective when I was in my 20s than I do now at age 40, it’s just not possible, and I accept that of myself. I try to stay focused on sharing my perspective, what works for me, and the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained, and then I try to bring in other perspectives so you can learn from people who know things that I don’t. And that’s the best I can do. Even though I make mistakes and I don’t know everything, I’m going to keep showing up so we can learn and grow together.
Maya Angelou once said, “…when you know better, you do better.” I hope that I can do this episode again in another year or so and have more things I’m embarrassed about because that means I will have learned to know and do better than I’m doing right now. And there’s nothing embarrassing about THAT.
This post is based on the latest episode of my weekly podcast, Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers. A podcast is like a free talk radio show you can listen to online, or download and take with you wherever you go. I release a new short episode each Sunday and feature it here on the blog to help you get energized and motivated for the week ahead. I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comment section!
This episode was sponsored by Really Good Stuff. What are the top 10 challenges that teachers face in the classroom? Really Good Stuff released the findings of their National Poll with over 700 participants. Visit reallygoodstuff.com/solutions to find the results, plus solutions to these challenges, teacher tips, resources, and innovative products designed to save you time. Use promo code RGSTRUTH10 for 10% off of your Really Good Stuff order (expires 12/31/18).
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