Let’s face it. Teachforus.org is not the most happening place. With 40,000 potential bloggers, all this site gets is an average of four or five posts a day. I write most of the posts on this site and I get most of the hits. This is too bad since there are a lot of great bloggers who don’t post very regularly.
I recently saw a post by yoteach entitled More Unsolicited Advice for 2012ers: Don’t Let Gary Rubinstein Bully You!. Seeing my name in the title of someone’s post is always a bit of a thrill for me, even when it is negative. I know of three other times this has happened, though the others were all positive. Four years ago there was An Open Letter to Gary Rubenstein thanking me for my honest advice about how to be an effective teacher. Then this year, in response to posts I wrote analyzing the blogs of the new CMs there was The Gary Rubinstein Treatment and Clarification of Previous Post and Response to Gary Rubinstein. I am definitely the proverbial big fish in a small pond.
But this recent yoteach post followed by some very negative comments about me and what I do really surprised me. My motives were questioned by one of the commenters saying that my only goal is to sell books and to get interviewed. Other people joined in. Even the great Wessie of ‘Drinking The Kool-Aid’ fame called on of my posts ‘rude.’
I felt so misunderstood. I know my writing ‘voice’ can be harsh at times. What you see on this blog is ‘raw’ mainly unedited stream-of-consciousness and I don’t try to soften the tone since that would make this like ‘work’ and I don’t have time to do any more work in my day.
But when I critique a blog post where I find what I consider to be errors in their teaching, I do hope that it helps that person and/or that it helps other people who might be prevented from making that mistake. I also do like to ‘circle back’ to what can be inferred about TFA that someone who trained with them should make this mistake or that.
Honestly, I get frustrated that more bloggers don’t write “I really wish they had trained me better for this.” I know that TFA discourages this type of ‘reflection,’ but if nobody is saying that then there is not enough honesty on this site, I think.
I do hope, though, that people aren’t refraining from posting because they fear that I’m going to use them as an example. This is something that I rarely do anyway, and generally when I do it, it is at the beginning of the year when some people who read this blog maybe haven’t started teaching yet and it serves as something that could prevent them from making these mistakes. I think, though, if we never see another post like ‘I CARE SO MUCH’ again, it will probably be good for TFA to not have something that is so easy to criticize. In a way, TFA probably hopes that I discourage people from writing about their mistakes.
No matter how you might feel about me, I have made a ‘difference’ in how people in TFA, and throughout the country, talk about TFA. I’ve made it ‘safe’ for people to write about what things can be improved about this program. I feel like I’ve even gotten TFA to change their strategies for what sort of messages they want to portray.
To be called a bully definitely bothered me, and I even responded to the post in a comment, as someone who was sometimes bullied in school and also at camp. I don’t think these bullies were trying to help me improve in any way or to help others to improve by not making the same mistakes I had made. I think they just did it because they were jerks.
I do what I do because, at least for now, this is something I ‘have to’ do. All these ed reformers, with TFA’s blessing, are, I think, hurting the students they claim to put ‘first.’ TFA, unfortunately, is part of the problem. So I’ll continue getting my ideas out there. Sometimes it might be a bit sarcastic or even angry, but hopefully even those posts are thought provoking.