Successes should be celebrated. They should be shared with the world, in order to pave new paths, spark fires into flames, and inspire those around us. Daily, I see so many awesome things colleagues are accomplishing: in their buildings, their PLNs, at conferences, and through social media I get to vicariously learn via scrolling my thumb, while I’m figuratively giving them mental thumbs. I have learned so much from my PLNs on Twitter, Voxer, Facebook, and when I’m super lucky these wifi warriors become friends, mentors, and occasionally mentees. Without these individuals willing to contribute to the collective community knowledge base it would be hard for ideas to move forward. It is no longer the dawn of the internet. It’s probably closer to noon, and when leveraged correctly it can truly be transformative and set ideas on fire. The world is made better through sharing---sharing breeds innovation.
That said, there is a funny thing about becoming an expert on a topic. About putting yourself out there for the public. You open yourself up to vulnerability, and sometimes instead of setting the world on fire with new ideas, you get burned. There is a darker side that we have all probably experienced.
I was chatting with one of my favorite Aussie peeps, Brett Salakas, cofounder of #aussieEDChat, and we were discussing cool new projects we both have on the horizon, and the term “tall poppy” came up.
He stated that “In Australia, it’s not cool to be too successful. Australians cheer for and like the underdog. If you get too much attention people will turn on you, and start being negative, even online. It’s a cultural thing, really.”
For those that aren’t familiar, tall poppy syndrome is “a perceived tendency to discredit or disparage those who have achieved notable wealth or prominence in public life.” When I was in Australia in 2016 for EduTech this term was first brought to my attention, as it came up in conversations a few times as I watched presenters. A few guys were calling one of their peers a tall poppy. But this conduct isn’t isolated to Australian society, they have just coined their own term for it.
There is an old biblical saying that “You can’t be a prophet in your own town.” Pair that with the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” and you have the perfect combination for discord and conflict within the realm of EDU, and its a phenomenon I have only experienced in physical settings--usually with people I work with everyday.
For some reason, select colleagues who are closest to a person, usually the ones in their building, districts, or in some physical or geographic sense of proximity, out of scorn, or jealousy feel the need to discredit the person experiencing a successful event or garnering attention. I have definitely experienced this and have a feeling that I am not alone.
One year, I had just started teaching in a new school and began integrating the flipped model into my history classroom. In about 6 months time I was invited to present at conferences, and became somewhat of an expert within my district. My principal asked me to lead a school training on the methodology and strategies I found most helpful to the faculty at the next staff meeting. I was so excited to share what I was passionate about with my colleagues.. At 3:15 on a Wednesday we all went to our staff meeting, and then we split a part into breakout sessions. Our faculty meetings were pretty awesome, because we did Edcamp style share sessions that were about 15 minutes. Three sessions would happen concurrently and everyone attended two of the three.
Well...one of the teachers I taught with, for reasons unbeknownst to myself, decided she didn’t like me. I won't spend any more time making any conjectures as to why. When it was time to present she said “I wouldn’t go into that one if I were you.” loud enough for me to hear and ushered everyone away from my presentation room. I felt deflated. Hurt. And self doubt started to creep in. She continued this vendetta for an entire year until she transferred schools.
It was mean, but I moved on. The thing I won’t accept though is I hear stories like this all the time. Stories from very successful and well loved colleagues who are rockstar teachers and contribute their wealth of knowledge to the twittersphere, but have no honor in their own school.
There are so many battles educators have to fight as part of the job. Accountability, administrative tasks, meetings, planning, learning new technology, and maintaining personal lives and sanity. Why would an educator attack another educator fighting the good fight in the same trench for the same kids?
So folks. I have decided to create a call to action. A call to kindness. Go find those doing amazing things in their classrooms; whether it is the teacher next door, down the hall, or even someone from an online PLN and take a picture.
I love showcasing what I am doing in education and in my classes, but when someone else takes the time to say “Hey, I really think what you did there was awesome because…..” it reenergizes me! We can’t count of coffee to do the job all the time!
So I am launching 30 days of #SNAPPats!
A #SNAPPat is when you see someone doing something awesome in your building and online, and you use snapchat to share it with them and with your online community. Whether on twitter, in your Facebook groups, or even your school social media accounts and blogs, let’s start a movement of teachers who lift each other up and give virtual pats on the back. Then just tag it with the #snappats!
Here are 8 #SNAPPATS for my virtual PLN, and I will posting a new one everyday until April, but it doesn’t have to stop then! Let’s make this a thing!
Know I appreciate everyone of you, and you make me a better teacher for taking a moment to post and share your best practices online! Here we go!