The catchphrases teachers often hear from administration and the district are actually just toxic positivity. These phrases and slogans fed to teachers demand that you ignore, suppress, or deny negative or critical emotions. This excessive upbeatness isn’t used to lift the spirits of the teachers, but as a tool of guilt and control.
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Welcome to leaving the classroom. This is a podcast for teachers who are ready to transition out of the classroom and into a new career. Each week I'll share stories about what I've learned moving from education to the corporate world. I'll answer the most common questions and share my best tips to help you get started. If you are considering leaving the classroom, this show is for you.
I'm Kristi Oliva and I'm so glad you are here. We are continuing our series called the narcissist traits of education. And so last time, we left off talking about boundaries and setting healthy boundaries and how that doesn't fly very well with the toxic positivity culture of many education settings. And so I asked the teachers that I mentor to give me their top phrases, the catchphrases that are given to them in the education system that are actually just toxic positivity. So let's continue. The next one I received was our theme this year is no limits. Funny how I decided to put limits or boundaries for myself and it's not perceived well. Oh, definitely. I think when a phrase like this is put out there, it holds this undertone of I'm pretty sure they were probably had good intentions with this that no limits means, you know, let's not limit ourselves to the goal setting that we're going to do and everything like that. But it does carry this undertone. Look at how this teacher immediately thought about it. She decided to put limits on herself and it's not taken well. So really the No Limits applies everywhere, doesn't it? No, you're not going to put limits on your time or your emotions or your mental state. We need you.
Okay, let's go to the next one, you make a difference every day. So this type of toxic positivity is using compliments to then make you feel like you should be trying harder, working harder doing more for your job. So you make a difference every day. It's also a great amount of pressure. I'm sorry, but we don't make a difference every day. Teachers don't make a difference every day. Just because you're with children does not mean you make a difference every day. And you know, why not? It's because you're allowed not to, you're allowed to have a bad day, you're allowed to crash and burn one day or have a lesson that just doesn't go well. And that's not necessarily making a difference is it? You just had a bad day. But you're allowed to do that. And so putting this statement out there that we make a difference every day and we're so important is actually serving you not so well. Because it's making you feel this unbelievable pressure that you must perform every day and actually make a difference every day. Otherwise you failed. But that's not the truth.
I used to look forward to those jeans days, right? Or I would help man terrible, rewarding teachers with a jeans day is one of the most demeaning things I can think of. Not only because most other jobs don't require that you can't wear jeans. In fact, most jobs don't care. They care about performance and results. So why are teachers prohibited from wearing really a fashion staple in our world like what most people wear most days, and yet that's dangled over their heads as a reward.
The other one I've heard on this similar vein is you know, letting teachers just leave at the bell when students leave. And I told a story in one of the first episodes about how I always showed up early to work and so one day I wanted to leave early to beat traffic and how my principal deducted my pay for that. And I mean now, I am not micromanaged like that. I know that teachers have a contract time and of course you need to be there during the school day. But why does it matter if you leave when the students leave if you were there before anybody else, that's one thing that really bothered me. And so when you reward teachers by giving them things that most other, most other professions just have as a given, is pretty demeaning. And it makes you feel like you're not a professional. It keeps moving that abusive cycle. If you're not really a professional, you can't even decide which days to wear jeans without us telling you. And you can't even decide what time you get to leave without us telling you.
All right, let's go to another submission from a teacher. I was at a Christian school. So we often heard remember, this is your mission field. I mean, I get the sentiment behind that, you know, maybe that is why you became a teacher at a Christian field. But what if it's not what if you just wanted to get a job, and that's the job you got, I think that's a lot of pressure to put on anyone that's their mission field. Again, it's connecting it to the your home life and connecting it to your legacy and connecting it to something that you should not have to bring home with you. A mission field, those people, you know, get people to donate to their mission and they they raise money, they are not being paid a paycheck that's different than a mission field. So it's very unfair to relate a teacher's profession, to the mission field.
Another one we hear is, this is what you signed up for, or you knew what you were signing up for when you became a teacher. This one bothers me so much, because most teachers become teachers right out of college. Right? So what are you, max 24, minimum 22. I mean, we were little we were the youngins when we started teaching, and we have these bright eyed bushy tail, we're so ready to change the world. But guess what we were never told or at least I wasn't that we were going to have abusive parents who be littled us, called us names, wrote emails that in any other case, you could block that person and never see them again. But we had to just continue to deal with them because they were the parent of the child that was in our class, I wasn't told that I didn't sign up for that. I didn't sign up to have a death threat from a student. I didn't sign up for that. I didn't know that was going to happen when I was 22. I did not know that. So telling me this is what you signed up for just because I didn't think of all the possibilities that could happen is so abusive, and so toxic. You can't tell me, I knew what I was signing up for at 22. And they just expect me to take all the abuse that comes to teachers in the setting they're in.
On the similar vein, remember, it's part of your contract. Have you ever read a teacher's contract? It's very generic, at least mine were, if I'm remembering correctly, any teachers that have a contract language to send to me, please do. But it'll say something like anything outside of class that you're asked to do. It'll just be very generic, it won't say, okay, every Monday and Wednesday, you will need to give up your prep period to stand at bus duty or whatever, it doesn't say that specific. So when they say remember, it's part of your contract, they can lump anything in there because really, the contract just says that you have ancillary duties that you're going to be asked to do. And so when you sign that you're basically just signing over all of your time, really, I mean, I attended my daughter's first grade program this week. And it was wonderful. But it was from six to seven, or 630 to 730, something like that. And, you know, the principal was there all these wonderful teachers who have done such wonderful things with my daughter were there. And as great as it was, and as awesome as these events are at schools, all I could think about was, you know, what are they giving up on this evening? They're not getting paid extra or overtime to wait there. No, remember, it was part of your contract. They might not be thrilled about being there and having to man the door, or videotape that program, or even organize that event, set up the chairs, whatever it was. And I'm not saying they weren't thrilled about it because they were wonderful that night. But it just reminded me of all the extra things that teachers are asked to do. There's plenty more where that comes from what #onebigfamily, #dowhatsbestforthekids #staypositive, be the change, remember your why oh, all of these things are toxic positivity.
Teachers and you don't have to continue to listen to it. You don't have to continue to think that that's normal. And that being told these things needs to be part of your daily life. So please, if you are ready to leave the classroom, I have a solution for you. Check out IDOL courses Academy, we help you transition to a career field that is so closely related to teaching that all we need to do is teach you how to translate that terminology and teach you the tech. And if you sign up using my code CLASSROOM100, you will get $100 off enrollment. It's time for you to take control and make the career change that will change your life. It changed mine. I'll see you next time. That's all for this episode.
Send your stories or your questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram @leavingtheclassroom.