Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I stumbled upon this quote last night while reading through my favorite blogs, and it resonated with me. There has been much discussion in my own professional circle around the importance of transparency, reflection, and self-assessment. Submitting ourselves to peer review and taking the time to identify what works and what doesn’t in the processes we use and the products we create helps us grow and meet the needs of those we serve in better ways.
Today I’m thinking about something else, though. I’m thinking about all of the teachers I work with who are doing incredible things with students. Teachers like Stacy, who started this project, and Sheri who has immersed herself in learning more about what it takes to motivate reluctant readers and help them comprehend the things they read. I’m thinking of Dawn, who understands the power of nonlinguistic representation better than I might, and a whole slew of teachers at Starpoint Central who have valuable expertise in teaching and training others around the 6+1 Traits of Writing and teaching kids to THINK. All of these people understand that sharing what they do is an important part of doing right by kids.
This is uncomfortable. We fear the criticism that sometimes follows when we dare to focus more on the great things that are going on in our lives rather than on the problems that surround us. Insecurity breeds contempt, and too many of us are hesitant to open our mouths, our classrooms, and our hearts because we are afraid of being deemed a show off or know-it-all. Misery and apathy love company, it’s true. But so does joy, and in my own experience, when we surround ourselves with those who are willing to collaborate in positive ways, so much more is accomplished and the atmospheric shifts are amazing. I’m watching that happen in many different places right now, and I have to admit, it does feel liberating.
We worry too much about how we might be judged if we credit each other for what we do that is working.
We need to get over this. For ourselves. For our students. For the betterment of the field.
And if other people feel threatened by that, then they need to focus a bit more on shining their own light as well.
It’s not about promoting ourselves.
It’s about promoting ideas, building energy, and honoring and appreciating each other.
This is the work of courageous teachers. It’s also the work of effective ones.