I’m sure you can relate.
During a performance review, my supervisor told me that my teaching style, a fusion of storytelling and instruction, was not practical and measurable on state exams.
“You’re job is to teach reading and writing skills not to tell bedtime stories.”
At the time of our meeting, I’d been teaching for 13 years and felt I was finally forging a classroom identity.
Though I didn’t agree, like a good employee, I did what I was told.
I didn’t tell stories. I didn’t openly reflect on writing, literature, and life with my students.
To the detriment of both my professional integrity and student instruction, I tried to be someone else.
I grew lost and frustrated. I began to resent teaching. I updated my resume, created a monster.com account and begin exploring other career options.
Then, one day in a meeting with my supervisor, I snapped.
“If I don’t teach your way…what are you going to do?…Are you going to fire me?”
There was a long, trailing silence.
“I can’t compromise who I am anymore. I’m drawling a line. Feel free to cross it and fire me.”
Proudly, I’m still a teacher and though I was not fired, the meeting sprouted permanent tension between the supervisor and I.
There are many moments, especially as an employee, when you must follow orders.
However, when you’re asked to compromise your identity you must take a stand, draw a line or risk losing your integrity–which will always be more important than any job you’re paid to do.