Sharing What I Do: Am I An Educational Narcissist?

No One Else Was In

As a mythology teacher, I love covering the story of Narcissist and Echo. I enjoy the reactions students have, the conversations it leads too, and the humor that the author brings in with the version we read in class. But as fabulous as that story may be, I want us to consider something through a new lens.  If we share what we are doing and all the things we know, are we narcissistic? Are we? No, we aren’t, but it is getting harder to convince ourselves of that in the current climate of social media.

The Room Where It Happened

We should share what we are doing, learning, and growing. We should. We need to do so. One blog post or graphic you create may help another teacher make the decision to stay in education and not give up on our noble profession. True story. One response in a Twitter chat could be what brings a smile or happy tear to another educator who needed to know that he or she isn’t alone. We no longer have to feel alone. Isolation is a choice. So why are so many educators afraid to publish, tweet, and or post? Because of the swarm of negative wasps out there ready to sting us and accuse us self promotion. Self aggrandizement. Narcissism. Of course, if we all bought it into this all of the time, there would not be any more conferences since nobody would want to present, but it does stop some from sharing their awesomeness, and that is sad. Our world needs more of the awesome and less of the awful.

The Room Where It Happened

In his post, Are You a Narcissist? Here’s Why You Should Think Twice Before You Answer , Justin Bariso (@JustinJBariso ) outlines some questions to have a close and trusted friend answer in order to know if you are a narcissist.  He explains that it isn’t easy to find out if we are narcissistic or not due to our own bias, but we can find out from a friend how we may rate on this scale. Below are the questions he suggests having a friend answer for those who really want to know. I suggest we take a look at these before we post or respond questioningly to other educators on social media. Consider your WHY before posting content or responding to tweets and posts:

Do I at times come across as conceited, boastful, or pretentious?
Do I tend to monopolize conversations?
Do you get the feeling that I look down on people I perceive as inferior?
Would you say that I portray a sense of entitlement?
If I don’t receive special treatment, do I become impatient or angry?
Do I insist in having “the best” of everything?
Do I have trouble handling criticism?
Do I ever belittle others in an effort to appear superior?
Do I exaggerate my achievements and talents? (Or do I have an exaggerated sense of self-importance?)
Do I seem preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate?
Do I believe I’m superior to many others, and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people?
Do I expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with my expectations?
Do I take advantage of others to get what I want?
Do I have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others?
Am I envious of others and believing others envy me?

The Room Where It Happened

They key to knowing if someone is a narcissist or not largely depends on how well you know that person. Just following someone on social media in and of itself does not mean we know them, though it can lead to that. There are true narcissists out there. It is a real thing. What I feel we should do as responsible educators is to check the above questions as they apply to our whys for saying what we say, posting what we post, doing what we do, and before passing judgement on others. There is a lot of negativity in the world, and sometimes it feels like a large part of it is directed at schools, administrators, teachers, etc. Why then are we constantly on the lookout for ways we can also be negative toward each other, either toward people in our own buildings and district or online through social media?

No One Really Knows How The Game Is Played

I generally try to avoid being in front of the camera. I am an avid hobby photographer, but I am completely uncomfortable in front of the camera. So, because I constantly challenge myself to do things outside my C (comfort) Zone, I wrote a blog post and challenged everyone to find some things to do this summer that are outside the C Zone. I chose to work on selfies and being in front of the camera. I have done some videos too. That being said, if you came across my feed on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and saw several selfies of me, your first thought would not likely be that I’ve challenged myself to move outside my comfort zone and put my face out there. Ha. Nope. That wouldn’t be my first thought either if any of you were posting a lot of selfies or videos. See how easy it is to judge each other and be way off of the mark?

We Just Assume That It Happens

So how do we know if we are sharing for the greater good or if we have crossed that line into educational narcissism? There are a few things you can look for in your own behaviors that will help  you be the judge of your own motivations. Consider these that I am creating based on the ones above, things I’ve noticed, and common sense:

  • When I share out the great things happening with my students, school, or district, am I in every single picture?
  • Do I get upset if I am not mentioned or featured when and administrator praises a colleague?
  • Do I want to serve on every committee and be involved in all of the leadership teams because I care deeply about the initiatives of my school that will help students across my district, or do I just feel left out and unpopular if I’m not on those committees?
  • Do I assume negative intentions right off the bat with staff and students?
  • Do I find myself getting jealous, angry, or making faces at my phone or computer screen or buddy next to me when someone else is celebrated by educators in the room?
  • Do I volunteer to share out more complaints than I do solutions?
  • Am I uncomfortable hearing about the successes of others?

But No One Else Is In

This is by no means a complete list. These are just a few off the top of my head that should present warning signs that our behavior may not be headed in a good direction. Maybe we aren’t being a responsible team leader or player. Perhaps we need to be more mindful of the impact of our actions towards others. Perhaps we are getting comfortable on our soap box…er…sorry. Stepping down now.

The Room Where It Happened

We’ve all noticed an uptick in the bash other educators for what they just tweeted or posted movement. It is summer. We are adults. I will read, participate in professional development, attend and present at conferences, have a fabulous vacation, coach softball, spend time with family, sing in my band, clean my house, and enjoy Shark Week if I want to, and I will share bits of that, my life, online. I will push myself to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, which my #4OCFpln claims is our motto. I work hard. I will continue to work hard not to judge fellow educators. I won’t “yuck” anyone’s “yum” (an Elizabeth Merce saying), and I will think about my own motivations before I act, speak, post, or tweet.  There’s still time left this summer to share out what you do, but remember not to yuck any of the yum coming from other educators. To each his own, and if we can find nuggets of inspiration and knowledge from that teacher, principal, author, publisher, etc., then let us. It’s okay. We’ve got this.

Partial song lyrics from Hamilton, The Room Where It Happens lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Songwriters: Lin-Manuel Miranda

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