Sunday, January 20, 2013

TWA-Teachers with an Attitude

I remember distinctly the controversy that surrounded a group called NWA when I was younger. It was said that their lyrics were degrading, and troublesome to the youth. If young children listened to their music, they would surely emulate the behavior of the group. This included violence against police, treating women in a lowly manner, and cursing, among other offenses. The media encouraged parents to prevent their children from listening to this "filth", and to boycott NWA's records (it sounds strange when I say records now). Where am I going with this? Well, NWA got me thinking about another acronym-TWA. Teachers with an Attitude.

You know we all have them on our campus. Those teachers or staff members who are absolutely toxic. They walk everywhere spewing their negativity, hoping to lure other teachers into their trap. Those of us who are "Positive Patty's" run in the opposite direction of the TWA's. You know who they are. When you see them coming you look busy, pretending to study the Scholastic book order, or read a note that simply says, "Call Mrs. Jones".

So why does this even matter to me? Most of us (including myself) just ignore our TWA's to make it easier on ourselves. It is far more uncomfortable to ask, "what is your problem?", than to politely act busy, or turn the other way when you see them coming. It is the single most destructive force on a school campus aside from apathy. Mind you, these TWA's are in charge of a classroom full of children whose parents, like me, sent them to school entrusting the teacher with their child's well-being and education.

I see the children who are in my classroom every day as a responsibility. I am responsible for the energy and attitude I bring into the room. Believe it or not, children are very perceptive. They know when something is not right. They can read through our emotions. They understand frustration, anxiety, sadness, and respond best when you are happy. Do you want proof? Remember those days you had a sore throat, and were losing your voice? That was the best your class has ever behaved, right? They knew you were not feeling well, and they decided to give you a free pass. Some of the best days of my career were those days that my class showed me empathy when I was ill.

I'm just venting here. It is exhausting to deal with educators who suck the air out of a room. I suppose my resolution is to be braver. To stand up for what is right, and refuse to be influenced by a TWA. There are always two sides to every story. I've thought about some mentor texts that would be helpful for encouraging your staff to come together. Remind ourselves why we came into this profession in the first place.
Thanks for listening.

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