When the weekly #michED chat was “born” five years ago, the goal was simple; provide an opportunity for teachers across the state to join in an “ed camp” style hour of sharing, connecting, and discussing what’s working in their classrooms. We believed that despite how we might individually feel about politics, public criticism of schools, and other distractions from teaching and learning, there was a vested interest in educators from across the state to collaborate and share. We were right; week after week we have spirited chats filled with resources, advice, and comradely that proves teachers of all political persuasions are dedicated to solving everyday problems in the classroom with professionalism and collaboration.

Sometimes though, there needs to be an opportunity for some #realtalk. A release of pent up anger, discomfort, and feelings about what teachers have to endure on a daily basis. I’m not saying this week’s chat was an hour of complaints and frustration; in fact, it was just the opposite. By removing the pretense that educators must always be “compliant” and appreciative of the resources we have and realities we’re in, I was blessed to be able to moderate a chat focused on how outside criticism of schools (public, private, or otherwise) erodes our personal and professional characters and abilities. Throughout the chat we recognized frustrations and dug into the root causes of those frustrations, unearthing some common truths that exist among all professionals; we do want to be better, and we can be motivated to do so with honesty, caring, and supportive co-workers and communities. We addressed how we perpetuate a culture of criticism (guilty of it myself) among our colleagues, and dug into the value in having difficult conversations with others about education over the reality of sweeping it under our collective “rugs.”

Do you have thoughts or stories about how working together as a team has helped your school and community? Please join us every Wednesday evening from 8-9 for the #michED chat, or share anytime on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media streams using the #michED hashtag.

If you have trouble viewing the archive of the chat below, you can view theĀ entire Storify archive here.