I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Monday, October 24, 2022

In Time...

I chatted with Jen Vincent a week or two ago - about writing.

And it turns out... I haven't written lately. She asked why, and I shared that nothing I want to write is positive these days, and I like to put out positive posts, as I don't want my "legacy" or people's perception of me to be negative.

She gave me an idea.

Write what happened. Write about how you felt in that moment. Wait a bit. Write later - sharing what you feel now about that incident/event/whatever it was you wrote about. In addition, write about what you learned. Because isn't that what life is made of? Our ups, downs, in-betweens... They're what make us US. So I thought I'd try it today...


I shared this tweet after a dinner with my parents:

No one commented on the post. I don't know if anyone read it. I know, that in a tweet of 280 characters, no one can share the entire story. So I didn't. And I didn't feel a need to. I just wanted to share that suddenly my mom doesn't have faith in the public education system. And her daughter's an educator in her 28th year. How did I feel when I tweeted it out? Sad. Disappointed in today's "news" that has parents up in arms. Sad that they believe all the stories they hear - that are just not true. Sad they won't do the research and ask at the schools about the rumors. Just... sad for teachers around the nation.

I saw replies when I looked at Twitter again the next morning.
Here's a sampling of the ones I didn't block right away:

How did I feel that morning?
Angry. Mad that if I was smart, I couldn't respond to any of them, because I've learned in the past that that's what they want. Flustered. Confused. I looked at my bio and through my timeline like they wanted me to. Were they all upset because I have my PRONOUNS in my BIO? I felt confused that THAT was what upset them and made them think I should be "terminated" - one even said I should've been aborted.  ABORTED. (That's one I blocked right away.) Sick. Yes, I felt sick. I did NOT want to teach "their" children that morning. I did NOT want to be nice and give grace to any students. I wanted all of them to homeschool their own children, because I thought their children must also be rude, disrespectful, and okay with hiding behind aliases in order to be mean. I stopped the comments on that thread. I was also kind of... afraid. I was glad, however, that I don't really have location information in my Twitter bio.

How did I feel once I got to school?
Still sick about it. Then a peer stopped me and said, "Your parents must watch _____." Yup. He added, "They're obsessed with sexuality," and he laughed. So I thought about it as I got ready for the day ahead.

How did I feel once students showed up?
I was chuckling. If I spent my day talking about sexuality, we'd get NOTHING done. I thought of all the teachers I work with. I've not told anyone at school (teachers or students) my pronouns - because I'm still "old school." I don't feel I need to, as I wear skirts, I'm married to a man, and I think I put out that "I'm a female" vibe somehow. I don't have one student (this year) who wants me to refer to them as a specific pronoun. I never once, the entire day, talked about gender or sexuality - with anyone. What DID I talk about? Taking out our notebooks, being quiet while reading choice books, correct grammar in writing so your story could be read and understood by others, keeping hands (and feet, and heads) to ourselves, using evidence to support your claim, looking through the text, football, hockey, how I'm thankful for their hard work... The normal stuff teachers talk about. The normal stuff teachers have been talking about for years.

That was October 10 when I got the vitriol and harassment. 
How do I feel now, on October 23?
Still kind of defeated. Still sick about how educators aren't trusted by so many - and sad rumors are still going around about what is taught in schools. Sad that parents can't ask their own kids about what's going on. Sad about what the kids in front of me might be being taught just by being around adults at home who think I'm evil because I have pronouns in my Twitter bio. I'm not even sure if I have them in my work email signature, as it's really not something I'm concerned about. I feel... tired. Exhausted. From trying to convince people like my parents that I'm a good teacher, and there are very many good teachers. I never had to try to convince others before. I'm feeling... disrespected. Sad that those anonymous people want me to feel this way - and leave the teaching profession.

What have I learned?
  • I've learned that many people don't know what's going on in their children's classrooms. I've learned that bullies online hide behind masks and aliases. (Garth Vader wanted me to be "brave" and let people comment again - and yet... it was Garth Vader saying this.)
  • If I don't want trolling bullies behind aliases telling me I should be terminated, I shouldn't "rock the boat." I don't like confrontation. I thought I was simply sharing a story with my own network. What some might call an "echo chamber" is what I was looking for right then. I wanted some to say they felt the same - that I wasn't alone. And a couple of them did. Yet... I don't feel it was worth the angst.
  • I've learned to be blunt with some people. There is a parent this year who thinks that at least one of the book club choices I provided to students had sex in it. At conferences, I let her know that no - none of the books on that list have sex in them. I let her know I've read them all, and I encouraged her to read the one we both chose together for her daughter WITH her daughter.
  • I've learned I can't spend my time thinking about what other people think. What good does that do me? I will go for walks outside, keep reading diverse literature to learn about others who have gone through different experiences than I have, to make more bookmarks for my students (it's a soothing balm for me!), and to keep being a role model - kind, caring, and supportive to ALL children.
  • I've learned to give it time... In time, I will feel less angry, less reactive, and I will have learned once again. Life is not without troubles. In my own life, this was a drop in the bucket. It was a bump in my road that helped me learn.
  • I have a lot of wishes... namely that people focus more on what actually harms children... Lots and lots of wishes, and only one vote.

Give it time. 
Try your best. 
Be the person you want to be.