I describe my job as ´bossy show off`. When I became a teacher, I was fortunate enough to find a job in which, possibly negative, aspects of my personality were put to good use. I had always been bossy; I had always been a show off. Now I was getting paid to do both.
When I say show off, I mean performer or extrovert. I mean I am unafraid to have the eyes of the world upon me. I can stand up and talk in front of people, I can sing karaoke, I can make a speech. These days as I stand out sometimes I feel a judgment on my physicality. I have written before about not fitting a physical ideal and occasionally I worry about this judgment when I am in front of a crowd. But I am a fighter and fight that feeling off. Judge me to be fat, judge me to be lazy, these are your decisions I cannot change them. My belief in my words, my intelligence and myself will pass through these judgments. Being a bossy show off needs careful management, one can easily stray to arrogance or to cruelty. I am generally a confident person. This is not to say I never have self doubt, I do, constantly. But as I said I am a fighter, I will fight these feelings just as I fight my egotistical tendencies.
This can also lead to another sort of judgment, one that forgets almost all humans are motivated by fear. That despite an outward confidence, arrogance, sharpness, aggression or anger, underneath is almost always a terrified child, confused and afraid. The other day a friend described me as ´big headed’. We were talking about a new relationship I was in and she asked; ´How will he cope with your big headedness?´. My initial instinct was to laugh and say ´He´ll probably agree that I´m fucking brilliant´. But her comment stayed with me. I wasn´t surprised that I could be occasionally perceived as big headed but I thought that a friend would see past that. Surprised she too could forget that I was often fearful, doubting and confused.
The same week I posted a new blog. As I checked the views each day it didn´t reach the same numbers as previous blogs had, I was disappointed. I started to think about pride. I started the blog because I love to write, because I wanted to record my experiences and because I wanted to think about and share my thoughts about education. Any audience, any readers were a bonus. It wasn´t written to make me famous or make my fortune. But once a few people started reading, the delicious intoxication of the stats started to consume me and I would check them several times a day. Instead I needed to check my pride and remember that it´s never about the numbers and always about the words.
I am proud of the blog, I am proud that I made it to Brazil. Proud that after 38 years I was still able to leave behind everything familiar and make a new life. I am proud of the travel I have done, I am proud of the successes I have in my work, I am proud of being a good teacher, a good leader and a good friend.
But I am not big headed, I’m not arrogant. I am confident in myself but it is hard work and takes effort. I strive always to find the rewards inside myself and not to seek approval from the world. I believe looking outside for approval or reward can leave you feeling a constant failure. But it is hard work to rely on yourself, I do need to feel that others see it too. I need to feel that they know it, that they understand. Is this big headedness, arrogance or pride?
And what does this mean for my pupils? We discussed rewards at school. The debate was between engendering in the students the intrinsic belief in education, the pride in the achievement, with no rewards. Simply knowing you did your best. This can be difficult when you work with children who have been given the right to an education, who don´t value it as a commodity, who see no real extrinsic value to it. Also I´m not sure any of us really does anything with no expectation of rewards. They need to feel rewarded for their efforts, they need to be noticed, praised, and celebrated. So do I. Despite my battle not to look at the stats, I seek the rewards of the outside. I don´t work for free, teaching is not reward enough in itself, I give the library but I gain a feeling of joy from that gift.
I want my pupils to feel pride in their efforts but I also want to reward them. I want to take pride in my efforts too. The bossy show off in me will sing, shout, share and celebrate myself but I will seek to celebrate with you too.