We all make mistakes. But for educators, mistakes can be particularly difficult to deal with. On the one hand, they have a major impact-after all, the role of teachers is to help shape the minds of young people. Living with the mistakes in the classroom can make people feel lonely, because there is an educational culture that encourages the best performance of teachers and conceals some of the biggest challenges.
An educator has set out to change this situation. He is Jon Harper, the assistant principal of Choptank Elementary School, a public school in Cambridge, Maryland. He also hosted a podcast called My Bad, where he asked a teacher to share a big mistake they made and talk about the mistake they made. I learned a lesson from it.
“I want people to listen to this podcast and realize that when they make a big mistake, they are not alone,” he said. “However, we think this is because of what we see on social media-whether it’s Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter-you see the perfect classroom, or you hear the perfect moment. Highlights.”
He has been podcasting for more than five years and has aired more than 100 episodes. The format is very short, only about 10 minutes per episode. But they tend to be emotional and resolve human struggles in teaching, including dealing with insecurity, work-life balance, and nowadays, the pandemic has made isolation and burnout worse.
Harper even turned the highlights of the podcast into a short book titled “My Bad Thing: 24 Educators Who Screwed Up, They’ve Grew Up!”
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EdSurge: Why do you think teachers are often unwilling to share the mistakes they have made?
Jon Harper: I think it boils down to psychological safety. In the teaching industry, people are often misjudged. People will go in and observe. Many times someone is looking for, where did they mess up or make a mistake?And you [marked] Down for it.Contrary to in some environments [in other professions], People embrace mistakes. They said, it’s okay. take this opportunity. Go ahead. Maybe it is useless. But I think teaching is a terrible profession because you are worried that someone is always evaluating you.
Especially last year [teaching remotely] With zoom. I mean, you have parents, grandparents, and guardians watching your every move.
Since we live in that world, are your guests worried that coming to your podcast will hurt their careers?
I recently accepted an interview with a very brave teacher who participated in the podcast. When she first started teaching her how to cope with all stress and anxiety, it was through alcohol. It is really powerful. For this, I applaud her. I’m sure she has to worry a little bit about others hearing this.But she talked about her experience [now been sober for a long time]. She wants people to know that they are not alone.
When teachers and educators are more susceptible to harm, it sounds like it will also affect the relationship with students?
Absolutely. This helps when teachers are willing to share with children. I have noticed this myself. I haven’t been to the classroom for a while, but I have taken medication for anxiety disorders, and I have shared this with students and parents before. And I also noticed myself that once I talked about it-I won’t go into the details with them-but once I shared it with them and I was vulnerable to them, they would relax a bit. Once you are willing to open up and share with them, the children will give them back. I mean, if we are honest with the teacher for such a long time, we will ask the children to come in during circle time and class meetings, and we will ask them to share.
However, we often do not share.
The more we can share, especially in this era, all the anxiety, stress, depression and what is happening. If someone in your classroom feels that sharing is safe, if they have a problem, they will just pull you aside one-on-one or after class. That’s too powerful.
Listen to the full conversation in the EdSurge Podcast.