Instrumental vs. Missional Goals
Rocking the Boat
In Rocking the Boat, Debra E. Meyerson, discusses the important aspect that individuals must find ways to balance their desire to speak up, deviate, and challenge the status quo against their "need to tread cautiously to preserve their credibility within it". Meyerson calls individuals that are willing to create changes and challenge the norm in their workforce "tempered radicals". She goes in depth to discuss six different ways these "tempered radicals" can create incremental changes. These changes not only work for the tempered radical themselves, but also for others in their working environment. Meyerson's six strategies reflect how indiduals can rock the boat in a way that shines a light in their direction, but she also discusses strategies that can be used that do not necessarily make the individual stand out. This is important because working individuals need to know you can be a tempered radical even if you don't want to end up standing out. Meyerson's examples of individuals using these six strategies were mostly from corporate workspaces but her six strategies can definitely be used in a variety of workspaces. The word "radical" is often used in e negative light, but Meyerson gives examples of how radicals are those who disagree with an aspect in their work environment and bring about changes without causing chaos. Meyerson shows how these changes are important for them and others in their environment. Radicals are not being selfish but reflective of how even a slight change can bring about big shifts and these shifts more often than not bring about positive change.
The differences that Meyerson identifies are race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender. In my work environment I definitely feel the difference with race. The school I teach at has a predominantly African-American student population, but most of my colleagues are not African-American. I think because of this, we can look at the students differently and the students probably view us differently as well. Most of my colleagues do not know what it is like to grow up as a person of color and that is something I can connect with my students on a sympathetic and empathetic level. I am not saying by any means that my Caucasian colleagues cannot connect with my students because they do and many of them connect very well. I have just notices quite often that students seem to view their African-American female teachers differently. We sometimes end up in the "momma" role, which is not always a role I want to fit in, but can't always get out of. A difference that Meyerson did not mention that I feel is very important is where you grow up. For ease I will call that foundation. I believe a person's foundation is so important to who they are and what they believe. I think an individuals foundation can easily influence how they feel about things in their work environment and I would have love for this difference to have been addressed further.
As I was reading this book, I kept on thinking "am I a tempered radical". Honestly, I did not think I was at all early into the book. With teaching so many changes are constantly made and you are told to teach certain things certain ways from one year to the next. Because of this I have often felt I do my best to conform to the norm and follow the "rules" I have been given However, when I started reading Chapter 6: Leveraging Small Wins, I started reading things that did apply to me. Within my course team we have created changes outside of the norm that have truly benefited our students. So much to the point, that my course team is often used as an example when the administration discusses good team work. Now this change is not just because of me, but my course team members as well. We all wanted to create a meaningful curriculum that benefitted all students we teach. We didn't (and still don't) always have the same ideas on how to get there and sometimes butt heads, but we know we butt heads because we all do want the same result. We created and continue to create change with the students in minds. We were and are all just willing to swing the bat a little differently and even though we were challenged on this at first, we are now applauded.
As an urban educator, there is not a challenge Meyerson mentioned that I have not faced. Our job is not from nine to five and we face challenges within the room, within the workforce, and outside of the workforce. We are often challenged and asked to solve problems we did not create and honestly, don't have the capacity to solve. As stated earlier, all of the challenges spoke to things I could relate to but one that I think many teachers face is burnout. One of the people that Meyerson highlighter stated that frustration/burnout is "a struggle to swim against the tide, and those of us who do it often feel unjustly devalued and marginalized". I don't think there is a teacher, that values the work that they do, that has not felt this way. Because of this I feel it is important for teachers to have a life outside of the classroom and feel there is a space to vent their frustrations to other educators. So often as a teacher I feel like I am trying to do everything "right" but end up in such a wrong place. Expecting results that you don't often get can be very draining. However, talking to other teachers lets you know you are not in this struggle. Having a life outside of teaching is also important so you can remind yourself that teaching isn't the only thing you do, even thought it sometimes feel like it. Connecting with students outside of the classroom is just as important because they often see us as just teachers and think we just see them as students. Finding this connection helps to remind you that the work you do is important and every teacher needs to be reminded of this at certain times. We are not always going to get support from our outside environment, so we need to support each other.
In The Room
For my collage, I took pictures in my living room space. This is the place I come to chill, exercise, and work from home so many things actually happen here. Never thought about that! So depending on what I am doing this room can help my relax (watching tv), release (when I exercise), and sometimes stress out (trying to get schoolwork done, lol). I took a picture of my exercise bike, candles, my printer, my laminator, a microscope, and my new camera because those are the things that stood out to me most. The laminator and printer are mostly used for my job as an educator and they show my creativity in print. The bike shows my dedication to stay in shape and be active, which is a good quality of a leader. The microscope and camera connect because they both allow you to see things in different ways. The camera is also an indication of my desire to learn new things because I have never taken pictures with such an intricate camera but I am determined to make photography one of my new hobbies (and be good at it). Leadership can be viewed in many ways but in the end I think it is about finding yourself while opening up to new things and doing something you love. I don't think one can lead when doing something they have no desire for.