Was I imagining this tough battle to do what is right and good? I think not.
Were my persistent tears, worry, and frustration warranted? I think yes.
Because now at a new point in the path, I am much calmer, happier, and positively challenged. Instead of daily strife to do my work well, I have much more support and respect. Some people are actually listening and responding to me as a professional rather than judging me by my appearance/gender, friends, delivery, or vision. These listeners are responding with respect, good knowledge, support, positive challenge, and new ideas. This is much better than the past.
I am happy that during the past ten years I held my ethics high and did my best to follow what I believed in despite the struggle. I read the wise words of many during those years, words that kept me on a good path. I reached out beyond my close proximity to wonderful thinkers and doers all over the world, people who offered me advice, support, inspiration, and goals that were positive to my profession and daily work with children. This was good. At one point when I was truly ready to give up, a few came forward and urged me to continue writing and continue seeking betterment. I think of their personal encouragement almost every day. I am so grateful for their support. My close friends and family members had to listen to me lament and seek answers day in and day out. I am grateful for their unwavering patience and support too.
What lessons did I learn during these years?
- Stay the positive path even when it is challenging. When cheats and crooks try to steer you off your path, find those that will support your good work and efforts. Don't be swayed by those who do not have your best interests or the best interests of the work you do in mind?
- Don't be silenced. I remember when one person came to warn me about my words and questions. He essentially threatened me about my ideas trying to silence me. I remember telling that person that my words were not making me richer, more beautiful, or more popular and that my words were born of my desire for better efforts to help all children learn in positive environments. Obviously that person offered me little to no support.
- Seek help. Once when threatened and harmed by vicious accusations and words, I had to hire a lawyer. This was one of the greatest struggles of my work as a teacher. Thanks to support of good people and a good lawyer, I made my way through that terrible time. I'm glad people guided me towards a lawyer's help.
- Get smart. Education is power and the more you know, the better you can do. Seek greater knowledge.
- Unions matter. Get involved with your union. At one time my local union did not support me. I was very surprised by this and sought help from the state union instead. Then I got involved in my local union. I questioned some of the actions and efforts. Since that time our local union has become more active and vocal. More people are involved and more people are comfortable speaking up. Teachers are busy people with little personal power. Unions give us the collective power we need to be able to do our job with good working conditions, fair pay, respect, and the ability to speak up and act in ways that support students and their families well.
- Do the good work. Good work matters and we can always improve the way we do our work. Focusing on your main objectives as an educator lays a path to betterment.
- Cronyism is harmful. When people lead via cronyism, favoritism, friendship, and favors, organizations suffer.
- Transparency and regular, positive communication matter. Secrets, hearsay, and conjecture harm the potential organizations hold for doing good work. The more that everyone is in the loop of the important knowledge related to an organization's good work, the better.
- Good process matters. When organizations develop and embrace positive process for decision making and growing the organization's capacity, better work and service occur. Bad process hinders good work.
I am so happy to be at this new point in my professional life. A place where I have lots of positive challenge that will require me to reach for more, learn more, and do more better to meet these challenges. That is not to say that there aren't glimpses of past challenges still, but at this point of the road, the support is more positive, transparent, and good. I don't sense as much cronyism, favoritism, secrecy, and prejudice that I noted before, but instead I see a lot of positive potential for good growth and development. Onward.