Like most of you, I have kept tabs on the shooting of Harambe that occurred at the Cincinnati Zoo. We have heard opinion after opinion, expert after expert, share their thoughts on what should or should not have been done. Then comes public opinion and what others would have done if they were in the same situation. This practice is often referred to “armchair quarterbacking,” the practice of trying to be an expert on something the individual knows only a modicum at best.
While it is certainly a part of our First Amendment rights to speak freely, we often get lost in what actually happened.
An incident occurred and professionals responded.
We often forget this before criticizing. We see it daily in the news from police procedures to government responses. While we may not agree with the way things are handled, in most situations, professionals are trained to deal with the incident.
When I was teaching, I often heard from non-teaching friends about how easy the job is, how we get the summers off, how they would teach and make our schools better. My response was (and will always be)
If teaching is as simplistic and uncomplicated as you make it out to be, get your cert and walk in my shoes for a day. Then we’ll talk.
In my current role as a superintendent, I’m the main target when it comes to criticism in schools. It’s a part of the job. No matter what happens, you can’t make everyone happy, and you’ll burn yourself out if you try. Just as when I was teaching, I tell folks the same thing when they start criticizing every move I make: get the cert and help those of us in these positions fix the problem.
Sometimes my biggest criticizers are fellow educators. In a previous district, there was a small pocket of folks where, if I said the sky was blue, they would be the first to disagree. While that wasn’t bothersome, what was is that they spent 24/7 talking about whatever it was. They tried to sour colleagues, parents, and stakeholders; they tried to take anything I said and twist it into something else. Their paranoia or guilt drove them to do or say anything and use their own time doing it. Why would I care if it’s their own time? Those educators (not in my current district) could have actually invested in their lesson plans or their students to make their classroom an amazing avenue of learning.
I close with this.
Before you start criticizing something you have no relevant background in, think about the professionals who are charged with making the decisions. Yes, it’s not going to work out every time, and, yes, mistakes or intentional actions will be made on occasion, but those professionals are trained and are experienced, whether you like it or not.
Put your energy into something positive and productive. Those who surround you will thank you.