promo box 1 green

promo box 2 yellow

promo pic 3 blue

The Dark Side of Inspirational Quotes

Don't let the inspirational, uplifting quotes that tell us how amazing teaching is supposed to be, drag you to the dark side of cynicism and guilt.

We have all seen them as we scroll through our FB, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. Those concise, inspirational zingers that get to the heart of a matter in 20 words or less.
Some of them are cute, some are political, some are snarky. They are judgy, cliche, uplifting, or clever. They have the power to make us feel joy, have a moment of introspection, feel vindicated, or hang our head in shame.

But the teaching related quotes - oh the feels, the excitement, the shame, the guilt.

"Teaching is a work of heart!"

“It takes a big heart to help shape little minds.”

“Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.”

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." 

"A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart."

"Some teachers taught the curriculum today. Other teachers taught students today. And there's a big difference."

 I know they are meant to be uplifting and inspiring, but they also can have a dark side - they can be stress and guilt inducing. It is so easy to fall into the trap of not feeling adequate when all you see is how teaching is the most heartwarming, altruistic, amazing experience on the planet and all you can think of is the massive workload, the endless data meetings, and the raw nerve endings from that kid that drove you completely insane today.

Yes, all of these quotes are true and of course, we take our professional purpose quite seriously.  By nature, those who enter this profession care deeply about young people, their well being, and their future. We can't help ourselves, I mean we aren't just pushing papers around here, we're working with little humans and it is a colossal responsibility.  

And so we become especially susceptible to allowing some of these quotes get to us.  We see the perfection, the goal, the expectation, and when we don't feel we measure up, we allow our spirits to be bruised and our confidence to fade.

But you know what?  Some days, I don't feel like I shaped a mind or affected eternity.  Some days I gave busywork while I worked on endless data sheets. Some days I lost my patience and fussed at a kid.  Some days I showed a video because I didn't have the strength to plan another freaking lesson last night. Some days I rolled my eyes at meetings, and complained with my colleagues, and sent a kid to another class because my nerves were shot. Some days I went home and cried.

Social media is certainly a remarkable platform and I love the connection, collaboration, the opportunity to see across the planet in an instant.  But we need to remember that what comes across our feeds is generally carefully curated.  We need to be cautious about how we integrate the messages that bombard us as we scroll.

I probably bristle more than most at some of these posts because I tend to be a little more snarky and cynical than the average human (if you need convincing, just check out my Facebook and Instagram :)  But even I get caught on the dark side of the inspirational quote.  Heck, I've even written and shared some myself!

This post is just a reminder to us all that while yes, teaching is all about heart, and love, and rainbows, and unicorns, it is also about exhaustion, and aggravation, and snarkiness, and complaining.  All of that is okay - we need balance to survive.  Just don't get stuck in either place for too long!

So for every sweet, uplifting, selfless quote telling you how to be the Teacher of the Universe that you see scroll by on your feed like these...

 are a few things to keep you balanced.  You can live vicariously through my teacher fails, snarkiness, and hot mess moments.  Some of these days are not my proudest moments, but they are the real moments.

Don't buy into the Hallmark version of teaching.  Teaching is just too complicated, messy, and imperfect.

1 comment

  1. Perfectly said. We need to balance all the touchy feely meme with some of your reality ones.