I spent the day at a workshop learning about the changes in funding for Exceptional Student Education.
I actually enjoy getting together with other ESE teachers and “talking shop.” The presenters were patient with us as we asked numerous questions and often continued our conversations around the table as they moved on to new topics.
We groused about the confusing terms and language the state chooses to convey a simple idea. We nodded in agreement when colleagues shared their frustrations about the problems we face trying to spend quality time with our students. We helped each other grasp the myriad of changes to the cumbersome document we produce at least once a year for each student in our caseload.
I noted that I was not impatient with this group, as I had been at a few other meetings I’ve been forced to attend recently. The difference was simple. The people surrounding me were my professional peers. We share similar experiences. Our dedication and our expertise is vast and extensive. We know our stuff.
How refreshing to be in a room with people who get the shorthand. No explanations necessary. We all spoke the same language.
On the way home, I realized something else. I did not downplay my knowledge and my own contributions. I spoke freely and with conviction and people listened.
That would not seem so unusual except that I frequently sell myself short. I play down my knowledge and expertise at times, in order not to appear arrogant or to be labeled a “know-it-all.”
I am a product of my parent’s upbringing. We were taught not to “toot our own horns.” When praised or complimented, I often deflect using self-depreciation or humor, instead of uttering a gracious “thank you.” The false modesty has been damaging. I stopped believing I was competent, or very good at what I do.
So today’s workshop gave me an opportunity to bring home more than new information for my job. It also taught me a few life lessons.
Lesson One: We need to be around people who feed our minds, who affirm us, challenge us, and help us grow. I need work peers, social friends, and writing peers to nourish my mind and spirit.
Lesson Two: We need to build ourselves up, to believe the truth about ourselves. To hear the affirmation of a job well done with not just our ears, but to BELIEVE it, deep down in our souls.
Only then do we truly live up to our potential.