Shhhh…quiet. We are in the habitat and age of the Docile Educator.
Wait, before we get into the Docile Educator, let’s talk about what scientists have discovered about frogs. Scientists say that if you take a pot of boiling water and throw a live frog into it, it will jump right out. Don’t try this at home. However, if you take a pot of room temperature water, place the frog in and slowly, but surely, increase the temperature, the frog will sit and boil to death.
That’s a metaphor and I want to accent it with a picture I created as it pertains to the Docile Educator and the frog.
Back to the Docile Educator…
The Docile Educator is not necessarily a bad educator. When all the parameters are properly in place, they can do a pretty good job of conveying information to their students and even creating that “spark” that may last a lifetime. My hat is off to them.
The Docile Educator has a problem though. They are by nature docile and therefore submissive. They won’t speak up to defend their students or careers. If you are an educator reading this and say “Hey! I defend my students!” then you are obviously not the species of educator I am describing. You are not a Docile Educator.
—–Admin: “Sign this Special Education meeting form!” Docile Educator: “But we never had a meeting with -” Admin: “Just Sign it!” Docile Educator: “OK” [Based on a True Story]
—–Admin: “You can’t fail a whole class!” Docile Educator: “But they refused to do work and you kept letting them go on trips and hugging them.” Admin: “I’m changing all your grades to passing. Shut up!” Docile Educator: “OK” [Based on a True Story]
The Docile Educator means well and has a conscience, but they also have rent or a mortgage to pay. Perhaps a family as well. The Docile Educator has to be careful. I’m not oblivious to some of the reasons the Docile Educator is…well so docile.
The Docile Educator will look the other way when a child is losing out on special and necessary services or being handled in an inappropriate way. They feel bad and may lose sleep at night, but shhhh…not a peep.
The Docile Educator will let their administrators punish them by making them line up to sign out at the end of the day like factory workers. Shhhh…the day is over, they are off the clock, but not a peep from the Docile Educator. They will wait their turn and pick up their children late.
The Docile Educator will be called in to the administrator’s office, be asked why are they wearing union blue in solidarity, hanging out in the staff lounge and told whom to hang out with and whom to avoid. The Docile Educator will never say “Excuse me, but you are not the Fashion Police and don’t dare tell me whom to hang out with.”
The Docile Educator will teach to Common Core Learning Standards they do not believe in, but not sign a petition to oppose them.
The Docile Educator will change their entire set of lesson plans (that worked for years) because they were told to and…make not a peep about it.
The Docile Educator will give test after test after test and assess and assess. They will extract all creativity from their lessons and paint the classroom walls gray with dullness. Creativity and engagement?….The Docile Educator says “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
A reminder that the Docile Educator has bills to pay and the country is not in the best economic state. Yes, it is true that the Docile Educator has to be careful. Their union may not back them, should they decide to become less docile. Their local politicians will not back them. Their Community Education Council will not back them. The parents may not back them. In some horrible situations the educator is the only voice of the voiceless, but not a peep from the Docile Educator.
The Docile Educator will be asked by students “Why are we doing this? This is boring!” and the Docile Educator will respond “Because we have to…shhh…stop asking questions…stop thinking critically. We have a test to prep for. My job depends on it.”
The Docile Educator’s contract and rights will be violated again and again, but shhhh…..the Docile Educator will not grieve. They will not even ask for money they are owed for working extra during their prep periods.
The Docile Educator is not always docile. They will blow off steam and yell and rant in the staff lounge, behind classroom doors and on Facebook. When questioned if they did say this or that, the Docile Educator will put down their head and say “No.” In some circumstances the Docile Educator will panic and point fingers at their colleagues.
Thankfully there is another species of educator in school buildings. The Badass Educator.
The Badass Educator is different. They may have once been docile, but then proclaimed “Enough is enough!” and “You will not tread on me any longer!” They may have said “Wait a minute…I’m an educator and am in the same career as Aristotle, Sophocles and Plato. Why am I treated like this? I won’t stand for it!”
When I first thought of changing careers, I was walking on a chain link fence, inspecting the Verrazano Bridge. It was June 2005. There was intertwined metal preventing me from falling to the bay. It was a 150ft drop to my death. I thought “Teaching? Sure I will lose out on a large chunk of salary, but I will be entering the most noble of professions.” My mind went to the picture below. I had seen it online and at a coworker’s office. Little did I know that just two months later I would be seeing it in real life on my honeymoon in Rome. Look at it. The “School of Athens” by the famous artist Raphael. It was painted back in a time when educators were highly respected and regarded. (Fun Fact: Raphael added himself sitting by that desk on the bottom left. He then redid his legs to make them look more muscular after seeing Michelangelo’s more muscular Creation of Adam.)
The Badass Educator is a good or great teacher. Usually, people who are really bad at their jobs do not make a lot of noise and instead try to fly under the radar. The Badass Educator will speak out even if they do it alone. They know that their job is more than a paycheck. WE ARE EDUCATORS! Our jobs are more important than putting food on a table. Don’t let anyone take that away from you! Anyone…not a parent, not a principal, not a superintendent, chancellor or mayor.
The Badass Educator will not only look out for themselves and their own students, but they will put out their neck for those of the Docile Educator as well. This career is too important not to.
The Badass Educator will not only speak up in school, but may also use social media to defend their rights and the rights of their students. So to compare, we have “not a peep” from the Docile Educator and “digital loudness” from the Badass Educator.
Education is under heavy attack. The system is broken and is putting obstacles in the way of all to break education. Be Badass fellow educators, because this docile mentality is not good for anyone. Be Badass, and defend your rights and the rights of your students. I and others will help in anyway we can.
and many more.
Or contact me to help unleash your inner Badass. I used to be a Docile Educator. Sure I spoke up before I was tenured, but I was for the most part docile and lost many, many, many nights of sleep. I now sleep very well. I fight for something. I stand for something.
Many of you have been telling me you have been following my Educator Survival Guide.
See also a bunch of Badass Educators, Badass Parents and Politicians who said “No More!” and successfully had a principal removed.
See you at to our co-sponsored forum on November 14th in Elmhurst, Queens.