Through the looking glass

Posted: October 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

“When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them.”  – unknown


Sometimes, when we look at pictures of other teaching realities, especially on social media, we see such an awe inspiring view. A beautiful realm of decorations, colors, flexible seating, perfectly placed books and papers and well-behaved students. As I look at those images, I tell myself, who wouldn’t want to be a teacher? Now don’t get me wrong, we need goals, we need creativity and innovation, most of all, we need people to inspire us to be better; to reach for the stars, to shatter boundaries and to be the best that we could be.

With such ideals, the adverse effect can also be true. When we look through the looking glass shared by another, a surge of emotions can be felt. Many educators look to these posts and images and immediately feel inadequate. They feel like failures, they feel unworthy. Although we always hope to inspire teachers to try new things and to transform pedagogical practices, in the end, we sometimes push them to retreat into old habits, into isolation and we encourage a fixed mindset.

So how can we find that delicate balance between inspiration and reality?

What we must always strive to do, is to share our stories. We cannot only share the ideals and our successes. Whether good or bad, if we truly want to inspire others, we need to share our learning.

I, like many others, went into teaching in the hopes of making a difference. Isn’t that what we all strive for as educators, to be able to live those “aha moments”, to see the wonderment of learning, to support others? Although many look up to me as inspiring, I also need to share, that like many, I often look at myself and say: “I am surviving”.

As I reflect upon my experiences and let you peer into my looking glass, as you look at my pictures, as you look at my smiles, can you see me:

  • Being bullied during my first grade at school?
  • Being laughed at for the “no-name brand” clothes I wore because we had little money?
  • Eating almost a dozen muffins after school because I didn’t want my mom to to feel bad that no one chose the food she made for the potluck?
  • Feeling broken that I could never go to another kid’s birthday party because we couldn’t afford to buy presents?
  • Being ridiculed for being overweight?
  • Being the last one chosen on a team because you didn’t play sports because you couldn’t afford registration fees or equipment?
  • Feeling heartbroken at funerals for students following a car crash, an illness, a natural freak accident, a suicide?
  • Being told I was one of the last people a student talked to the night before he took his life and that I had no idea that those thoughts were even going through his head?
  • Witnessing breakups, family traumas and violent outburst?
  • Agonizing over students not getting their high school diploma, knowing the stumbling blocks they have faced, only to be faced with leaders telling me, that they are adults and they need to learn their lesson?
  • Being laughed at for being that first-year teacher (keener) who wanted to be on every club or committee?
  • Being told by veteran teachers to stop personalizing report card comments because it gave others unwanted pressure?
  • Being bullied by other educators because my “different” methods of teaching (according to them) weren’t preparing kids for the real world and didn’t match what others were doing?
  • Trying to survive, feeling hopeless, after the loss of both parents to cancer and losing a baby during pregnancy?
  • Feeling devastated after losing some of my closest friends?

There is no perfect life, there is no perfect teacher, there is no perfect classroom. No matter the ideals we want to share with others, we have to realize that we are role models and we set an example, not only for students, but for colleagues as well. I can choose to share those perfect moments, those picture-perfect scenes, or I can choose to share my life, through my looking glass. I can share my realities, no matter the ups nor the downs.  

So why share my story, the not so perfect moments and difficult challenges of my life? Because they have helped shape me into who I am today. How can I want students and teachers to open up and share their stories if I can’t do it myself?

So maybe you won’t always see pictures of my perfect decorations, my amazing bulletin boards, my amazing classroom activities. Maybe you won’t receive my 101 ideas for an amazing literacy activity or a creative math lesson. I can tell you that I look to so many educators and friends for inspiration and for ideas. What I do pledge is to always do my best, to share my positivity, my heart and my kindness with everyone. I truly believe that the world does need more of it.

But as you do look through my looking glass, as you read through my blogs, as you interact with me, I hope that you not only see what led me to experience the many highs I have had in education, but that just like any other person, I too have been broken. My story is not perfect and I often feel like it is not “Pinterest” worthy, but I hope to always share my story, to share the real me: a person who is flawed but who is also privileged to learn with the best educators out there.

  1. Oh, Roman. How your words have touched me today. There is so much truth and goodness written here. Everyone does have a story, don’t they? I have often struggled with Pinterest perfect classrooms and teachers, and with never measuring up to them. I will say that blogging has really helped me with that. It has made me brave enough to put the bad out there with the good and to learn that there are others who share the same struggles I have. Bless you!

  2. Debbra Newton says:

    Merci! Tellement vrai. Assurer le bien-être en étant nous-même authentique. La réussite scolaire sera la conséquence naturelle.

  3. Eric Génier says:

    Je te remercie de ce partage Roman.

  4. Troy Hogg says:

    Your words are quite powerful and inspiring, Roman. I appreciate you being vulnerable and allowing others to lean and grow through your personal experiences.

  5. Melissa Childs says:

    Wow! Thank you for allowing us to look. Sometimes we keep too MUCH inside because we want to be strong. I have recently started learning from Brené Brown. Her stuff on being vulnerable resonated with me. Again, thank you!

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