Saturday, March 4, 2017

When I learned that I would need to not only start, but also maintain a blog for my grad class, a myriad of thoughts ran through my mind.  The first (well maybe not the first, but definitely the loudest) thought was, "What are people going to think?" I know.  It sounds crazy that a person who spends 8 hours a day teaching others how to write would be fearful to let strangers read and comment on my thoughts towards something so near and dear to my soul: education.

I spend a bit of time every day reading blogs, looking at magazines, and following articles that talk about the ever-changing landscape in the world of education.  Every new idea and lesson plan excites me, and I immediately dream about ways to implement them in my classroom.  But I don't often broadcast my plans because I become afraid of failure.  If no one knows what I hope to do, then there is no risk of disappointing them if that goal is not reached.  After much soul-searching, I think I have realized that it comes down to the fear of being labeled.

  A friend from high school, Lance Salyers, recently had the opportunity and honor of being one of the speakers involved in TEDx Dayton.  Lance is actually the person that finally put into words for me what I had been feeling.  I feared the labels that others could possibly give to me, and even more so the labels that I give myself.  I have many labels that I think accurately apply to me: I am a Christian, wife, mom, teacher, photographer, and friend.  I also have other labels that I am not nearly as proud of: I am insecure, opinionated, and a perfectionist.   But these labels are not just helping me describe myself; they are actually also hindering me from sharing my ideas and dreams with others for fear of what they will think. But Salyers' talk opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about those sticky labels.

 While I may not be an expert in the field of education, I AM educated.  I do have some authority to speak on issues that can better myself and those around me.   I hope this new adventure provides me the ability to share who I am without that label.  Because as Salyers so eloquently worded it, "Labeling ourselves short-circuits our ability to interface with others".



  1. Courtney, this is an EXCELLENT start! Very well-written, honest, and consistent. Perhaps part of what Education means is practicing the art of getting behind Labels to find the Truth, about ourselves and others and the world around us. Write as often as you can! I'll always be a reader of yours and a fan. :)

  2. Go Courtney! I agree with Greg that you're off to a great start.

  3. Looking forward to your blogs--I'd label this first one "intriguing" and I'm ready for more. :-)

  4. Way to go, Courtney! You are probably speaking to a much larger audience than you realize. There are always others that have the same insecurities, so as you are helping yourself, know you'll be helping countless others too!

  5. You must remember your opinions, comments, and experience add to the education of us all. Do not second-guess yourself . Keep up the good work!

  6. Very well expressed! Fear often keeps us from facing the very thing that will help us to grow the most. I look forward to following your literary and personal search for answers.

  7. Courtney, I think this blog will be an excellent forum for you to explore and share your thoughts on education. Labels, and fears generated by them, can trap us and squash any growth. I am looking forward to hearing all you have to share!

  8. Robert is right. We all have our own insecurities and fears, issues and hangups. Yet, despite this fact, we all tend to believe ours are unique -- not in the “you’re unique and special!” kinda way, but in the “everyone has issues, but *you* have REAL issues!” way. This, like nearly everything Fear has to say, is a lie used by the Enemy to keep us from speaking up, because he knows three things that he desperately wants us to forget/ignore/be ignorant of:

    1) Talking about our “stuff” is therapeutic -- it starts us moving in the direction away from the cloak of Shame and towards other people in our community who can provide the care and encouragement and perspectives needed to begin healing/overcoming.

    2) At the same time, speaking up lets those in our network of connections who are feeling the exact same things know that they are not alone either. It also models for them what it looks like to operate as the subject of our life’s sentence, and not its object: we do things to and with our fears, not the other way around. This helps others begin doing #1 in their own lives.

    3) The more we do this, the easier it becomes, creating a flywheel effect of healing and empowerment. These are the things that leave an impact, much as light does to the darkness, and salt does to the meal. (Matt. 5:13-16)

    The path that led me to giving a public speech (!!) about the emotional effects of my getting fired was a long and hard one. During that year of unemployment, I was utterly terrified to talk about it, as if giving words to it gave material substance to the awful feelings of shame and doubt about myself as a professional, as a husband, as a father, and as a man. No doubt this played a part in my remaining unemployed for so long, as the tension of hiding something -- even if completely understandable -- inevitably shows up in the pressurized moment of a job interview. Even after returning to work, it would be some time before I was comfortable enough to talk about it. Before I arrived at that place, there were moments of painful embarrassment, like the time an opposing defense attorney brought up what had happened as a means of shaming me into a more favorable plea bargain offer. (Yes, that really happened … and it was the closest I’ve ever come to being in a physical altercation as an adult.)

    The first few steps of my journey were small and private, but they were infinitely harder than the very public moment on the TEDx stage. Though your first 403 words of this blog may not have felt monumental, trust me - they are. Although you have been mandated by your grad school syllabus to start a blog, you chose to put a previously private piece of here into it. You didn’t have to do that, and the choice to do so was significant. Keep going. Use the fears and insecurities as a compass telling you not which direction to run away from, but which direction to resolutely march towards.

    Thank you for sharing.

  9. I will enjoy reading your blog. It is no easy task to put yourself out there. *fist bump to you friend!*