Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What if?

Two thoughts are rolling around in my head. One: Don't criticize someone to a third party if you haven't spoken directly to the party involved. Two: If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all.....(this is a quote from Thumper in Bambi).

Ok, what if I made a plan to do those two things?

I always hate how I feel after I have been talking unkindly about someone. I heard two CBC shows about people that have challenged themselves to not talk about people they are upset with, or miffed at, without having first spoken to the person involved. Wow! Could I do that? Especially in the work place, my work place, I find all the 'nittering' toxic. It is frustrating to work in a place with a spiritual foundation where it seems the nastiness is palpable. In simple words - sometimes we aren't very nice to each other.

I don't want to be part of that anymore. I want to finish this last year of teaching without the angst of personal snipes, clashes and, well, unkindness.

Is it really that hard to be kind? Just be kind. I talk to my students about this all the time, and also talk to them about how adults really don't do that much better than teenagers. Oh, sure, we might not post on Facebook that so and so has gained weight, or that you know who has a crush on person X, but still we say these things to our 'friends' and so it is out there. Maybe not on the social network page, but it is out there in the ether. And that ether is swimming with unkind statements.

I often joke to my colleagues when I can't be at a social gathering that they aren't to 'talk about me'. Because invariably if you aren't at the social gathering, well, your name might come up. It never feels right.

Why is it? Are we afraid we won't have anything else to talk about? Is it easy fodder? Is gossip just too much fun? Are we insecure in our friendships? Is it just the symptom of being human?

I have to believe that we are all doing our best. What I do might not be your best, but it is my best. I also have to believe that if we don't keep trying to do better, if we stagnate in our development, then we are letting ourselves down. I believe I made a deal with myself for this life long before I ever got here. I want to do better. I have come here to learn things, and to do better.

So, Thumper, let's give it a try playing it your way.

I will post my experiences here......and hope to hear from others as well.


  1. I am so lucky for the place that I work. We are a small and so very supportive school. We don't snipe. I feel supported and cared for by everyone on staff, and I support and care for everyone. We notice if someone is having a hard time, and we offer help however we can. We have a "guardian angel" program. We draw names at the beginning of the year and then we act as an anonymous angel throughout the year giving little gifts, notes of encouragement etc. We never disclose at the end of the year who we were looking after and we all end up feeling like everyone is looking after everyone. TOCs have commented on the atomosphere in our school/staff room and how it is different than other schools.

    I've lived in the toxic environment. I've taught in a school where I ended up just not going to the staff room because I couldn't handle the negativity. Why is our school different? Well, we started small and gradually grew. We were a staff of 2, then 4, then 5 etc. With each new addition, we gathered them into our little nest and they became part of our growing flock.
    As we have grown, we have had to make accomodations for birds of different feathers and some of that has been difficult at times, but to the core of us, it is important to maintain the solidarity we feel and I think it brushes off on newbies.
    The newest teacher last year seemed a bit chilly, not a team player. Near the end of the year, she gave me a lift home and was talking about the staff. She said she just was having a hard time getting used to the fact that everyone was so nice and positive. She wasn't sure if she could trust it yet since her experience had always been so negative. Maybe we'll win her over next year.
    I wish you that kind of environment. It is so nice to know that even on the worst days, I can go into the staff room and get a smile or a hug if I need one.

  2. Good for you Mary-Anne! I try to live by the "if you don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut" but sometimes it's really hard to do, especially after someone has hurt you.


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