It’s hard to fully explain why we are the way we are. It would seem that our conscious lived experiences combine with the subconscious processing of the remembered and forgotten stories, in order to create the present versions of ourselves, wrought with flaws, imperfections, and strengths.

Likewise, it’s hard to fully explain why I am the way I am. Regardless, I can be opinionated and outspoken, and when my conviction strikes me, I make my opinions known.

I’ve been reflecting a great deal on what I wrote yesterday, specifically after having some great conversations with some awesome colleagues about shame and accountability. While I stand by my opinions on classroom design, classroom transformation, and the over-emphasis on aesthetic, I realize that my post from yesterday didn’t quite tell the whole story.

For better or for worse, it only shared one side of the argument.

The side I shared is an important side of the story to tell, without a doubt. After all, the dominant narrative on Instagram trends towards selling products on Teachers Pay Teachers and classroom aesthetics that, too often, add little to no pedagogical value. By and large, Teacher Instagram misses the mark in terms of truly having fruitful conversations about inclusive pedagogy. It’s a space filled with predominantly white teachers who are fortunate to have the financial means to keep up the aesthetic that corresponds with their branding.

The other side of the story? It’s about building inviting spaces that students want to be in. It’s about making school a fun place to be for students. It’s about teachers using their lived experiences as young students to fuel their passion and purpose for creating inviting spaces for students who might have been like them–who, too, might have struggled to stay engaged in school. I feel remorseful for having not addressed, for that type of black-and-white thinking does not align with my values. I want to be an educational leader who embraces nuance, and I didn’t do that yesterday.

It might seem like a dramatic change, but it’s not. It came about through conversation. It came about through courageous sharing and empathetic listening on all sides of the conversation.

And it is these sorts of exchanges that are helping me move forward.

I’m slowly learning that I do more “calling out” than “calling in.” And I appreciate an awesome teacher whom I’ve recently met on Instagram for mirroring that back to me and sharing this article with me to explain further.

When we call out, we need not worry about the impact, because accountability is all the matters. Calling out makes sense when we’re trying to preserve someone’s safety or call out overt racism, sexism, homophobia, or the like. In cases like those, safety matters most. While the person we’re calling out might feel shame or guilt, it is less important than protecting the safety of the victim.

Calling in, however, makes more sense when the stakes aren’t as high. In situations where we’re not concerned about preserving someone’s sense of safety or calling out overt racism or discrimination, calling in makes more sense because it helps us preserve relationships that will likely contribute to fruitful learning.

I’ve become very good at calling out, and I think it’s because I’ve had to in too many situations. It’s been hard to grow in my career while being an openly gay teacher. It’s been challenging, to say the least, to advocate for teachers and teaching and against the corporatization of education and the dehumanization of the teaching profession. Calling out has worked in these situations because it gets people to listen.

What I’ve learned today is that I need to better navigate the difference between calling in and calling out. I need to reserve the calling-out moments for when it’s really necessary.

We all do, as a matter of fact.

If you’ve been following along, I hope you can take this lesson with you and put it in your back pocket. I hope you can learn from my journey, and reserve your calling out moments for when you feel like you really need them.

At the end of the day, calling in leads not only to empathetic accountability, but it leads to building relationships. And if there’s anything we need right now in the world–and in education–it’s more relationships, more partnerships, and more togetherness.

Thanks for following along on my imperfect journey.


Comments? Questions? Disagreements? Additions?

Please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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