I’ve sent accidental emails, blank emails, half-finished emails, emails to the wrong people, emails to the right people plus some wrong people, and yesterday I sent one when I was angry. In each case, an Un-send option would have been nice, although in each case avoiding human error would have also prevented any need for a techno-fix.
Yesterday our department received an email from a colleague and dear friend whose responsibility it was to provide us with information regarding an upcoming district assessment designed by a committee of teachers in our district, and the assessment itself. I took one look at the assessment, judged it a travesty, and exploded. I hit Reply All, and my fingers started flying across the keyboard. My emotions came through very clearly, too clearly, and I hurt some feelings.
My goal here is not to explain myself and certainly not to defend myself, but to search for the line where it’s appropriate to express outrage. I believed (and still believe) the assessment is deeply flawed for reasons that are beside the point here, and I’m mad and having a hard time accepting that I’m required to do something that I strongly feel is not in the best interests of my students.
Does that mean I should rip into good people who are just doing their jobs? Of course not, but what can I do with this frustration toward an assessment-generating system that virtually guarantees flawed products?
Here are the questions I’m trying to process: Is it ever OK to be mad on a professional level? When is expressing anger an appropriate response? What is worth fighting for? What good does it do to be outraged at an assessment or a system? How do we know when the cause is lost, and how do we move toward acceptance?
The answers probably involve focusing on the problem more specifically, or simply ignoring the problem. Yesterday I took it out on the wrong people, which I deeply regret. That is definitely not the answer.
None of this frustration affects my classroom persona or behavior, but yesterday it boiled over in ways that affected my colleagues. At best, I created awkwardness and maybe some deeper reactions at worst. Next week I have some fences to try to mend, no doubt about it. But the underlying problems will still be there, and I don’t know what to do about that, if anything. Re-calibrate and try again? Ignore? Just do it? I don’t know.
Any thoughts and advice are welcome. Thanks for reading.