Us vs Them on #satchatwc

It always amazes me how a single comment on Twitter can bring on a blog post.

This morning I woke up and did what I do almost every Saturday morning…I got myself a cup of coffee and sat down to read through Twitter posts. The chat #satchatwc was going on, and the participants are some of my favorite #PLN people, so I decided to jump in and attempt to catch up. The theme was “Us vs Them” and the discussion questions revolved around how we recognize this kind of behavior and ultimately stop it. Us vs them involves any groups of people where it’s possible that they are not on the same page to support student learning. This could be parents vs teachers, teachers vs admin, or even teachers vs teachers.

If you haven’t participated in a Twitter chat, it’s amazing how when you’re in the right one with the right people, your mind can be swimming with ideas and realizations by the end. Sometimes all it takes is one tweet. In this case, the tweet was this one that involved Dr. Clint Freeman & one of my favorite people, Shelley Burgess:

The part of Clint’s tweet that resonated with me was the idea that the contributor to an us vs them mentality is the lens from which we view what happens around us…our perspective. Since I’ve entered education, I have been fortunate enough to be able to look through many different lenses. It has given me perspective that other people may not have. My first job was as a Family and Consumer Science teacher in middle school. During that time, I would have categorized the role I had as a teacher vs teacher. I often felt like the grade level teachers thought I “only” taught FACE while they did the “real” work. Not all teachers feel this way, but in the school I worked in at the time, this was the climate. I also worked as an elementary teacher, an instructional support teacher, and finally, my newest position in admin. I would say that in every position at every level, there was the feeling of an us vs them. The only thing that changed was who the “them” was.

It took me less than a month to experience this difference in perspective in my current position. The other day, a teacher said to me, “So, how do I go about getting a cushy office job like yours?” to which I had to choose between several responses that went through my head. I could have responded by telling that teacher that I was only running through the teacher’s lounge in order to get to the office copier, eating a granola bar for my lunch after getting up at 4:15am for the last month in order to get to work early, or how I hadn’t seen my kids three days out of the previous week because I had left before they got up in the morning and came home from work after they went to bed, or I could have told him that when I finally did make it to bed, I collapsed in exhaustion but would still wake up at 3:11am thinking about everything I couldn’t get done in a day. But, I didn’t. I wasn’t about to perpetuate any kind of preconceived notions he had about administration, nor would it have done anything for the relationships and trust I have been trying to cultivate during the first month in my position. So, I smiled and kept walking. Plus, my guess is that there have been times he’s done this same thing for his students.