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Wednesday, April 08, 2015


When I write of good work, the story of transgression plays in the back of my mind.

Like every educator, I've transgressed and made mistakes during my teaching/learning journey.

I look back at those errors as turning points in my career, but I still smart when I think of the times I transgressed.

One theme of transgression that marks my course is the theme of injustice. When I felt a child or individual was treated with injustice, I got upset and reacted strongly. The last time I did this, I recognized the pattern--perceived injustice hurts me deeply especially if an underdog is getting the blame, ridicule, or anger. I'm sure this comes from my own experiences in life and the times I faced injustice.

Now rather than anger and frustration, I reach for compassion and understanding--often those who treat others with injustice just don't understand what they are doing--they've never experienced what I know in these situations. Recently the tables were turned when I spoke. Someone saw my words as unjust and reacted with frustration. I was caught unaware, yet it made me realize how much more effective our efforts to make change are when the aim is to educate rather than chastise one another.

Another theme of transgression is not making the time to see, hear, or understand the other side. When one's vision and dreams are big, it can be difficult to take the time to hear another, but our dreams and vision will never be realized with depth and care if we don't make time to listen. Taking the time to look someone in the eye, hear their story, and ask questions to understand are essential to forward movement and positive effort.

A third theme has to do with details. Details matter when it comes to good work. Avoidance of important details can deter the positive effort possible.

Of course, there's a happy medium when it comes to all of the transgression themes above, and there's also a great sense of humility with regard to analyzing and understanding one's transgressions. The main point, however, is that we all transgress during our lives, and the ability to let those transgressions serve as stepping stones to forward movement is essential. As people we do change and develop when we put our minds to it, and that's most important for educators to understand as it's our job to promote that same positive change and development in the students we teach.