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Is School Sucking the Life Out of You?

Jennifer Barnett, Education Week


Beware:You’d have to be living in the Twilight Zone not to realize vampires are in vogue today. Vampirelore is everywhere - books, jewelry, television, and, of course, the big screen.

But the vampires we know and  love today aren’t the dark, life-snatching Dracula types of the past. These vampires are nice. They don’t want to be monsters, or so they say... and they are roaming our school halls.


School Vampires: Sucking Your Positivity

Vampires have been in schools as long as people have been in schools. These vampires aren’t pale white or ice cold. Yet, they never seem contented with their plight. School vampires talk a lot about “they.” For example you might hear, “I don’t know why they don’t do something about poor test scores,” or “They should walk a day in my shoes if they really want to know what’s going on down here.”

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I’m not sure who the vampires think “they” actually are, but I hear them talk about them as if “they” might be supreme, all-knowing beings that can solve every problem on the spot. It’s almost mesmerizing the way they speak of such people.


Furthermore, there are other types of vampires in schools as well. Consider the following and ask yourself: Do any of these people or things suck the life out of my purpose in education?

  • - The policies that tie your hands, requiring you wrestle with doing right by kids vs. doing what I’m told to do
  • - The administrator that is more concerned with image than substance
  • - The colleagues that spend more time complaining about work than actually working
  • - The voice in your head that tells you to join in on a gripe session because it will make you feel better

Slaying School Vampires Is School Sucking the Life Out of You?

Defeating the vampire that sucks the life out of your school is easier than you might think. First, you must recognize that which is taking your life from you. If it’s colleague or administrator, you have a person to target. If it’s policies that pull you down, you know your platform. If it’s your own self-control, you have the power to change that today!


Consider some of the following suggestions for battling your school vampire.


Avoid the Negativity Vampires

Don’t give the vampire a chance to suck you into the conversation. Let them know you don’t want to bash others or complain incessantly. To feel less confrontational, change the subject. Be the one to bring up a positive topic for discussion and begin suggesting solutions.If you let a vampire steer, they will always go for the jugular.


Read the Five Emotion Vampires to learn who and what to avoid in the workplace and how to do it.


Encourage Your Administrator to Take Part in Your Class

It’s hard for your administrator to show a lack of concern for what you do if he or she is a part of it. Don’t only invite them in – have them become a part of what’s going on in your classroom.


Make a specific appointment for the principal to come to your class and provide information about the lesson and his or her role in advance. Moreover, ask your administrator for what you need and be specific. If you need your leader to focus on removing obstacles for your success, make specific recommendations for action. Communication is key. If you want your administrator to value your work, involve him or her in it. Take that first step.


Voice Your Opinion on Policies that Impact Your Students

You don’t have to have any qualifications to register an opinion. But, you do need to build credibility for your argument. Note your observations of how a specific policy adversely affects your students. Read about education reform. Provide solutions or recommendations. Share your thoughts with colleagues. Start a blog.


Wrestling with what’s right and what’s required is easier when you become part of the solution!


Silence Your Worst Critic, Yourself

Sometimes, we listen to negative talk from others because of our own self-doubt.  Don’t let your fears about a situation allow you to be affected by the negativity of others. Sometimes the negative talk isn’t around us; it’s inside us.


Rechannel those thoughts into something productive. Look for a pattern in your thoughts so that you will recognize the triggers for those negative emotions.

Don’t Expose Yourself to Negativity

Take note of those people in your surroundings, both real and virtual. Really, take note. Write them down. Who is in your circle? Then, ask yourself a few questions. Do I like what they talk about? Do I feel respected by them? Do they encourage and support me? Do I feel uplifted after spending time with them? If the answer is “no” for any of these questions, you need to reevaluate those relationships. After all, the purpose of the vampire is to suck the life out of the living.


We are rarely able to choose our colleagues, but we can decide who we allow close to us. Remember: If they don’t have access to you, they can’t have you for lunch.


How do you battle vampires in your school? Share in the comments section!

Republished with permission from the author, Jennifer Barnett. Find more great inspiration and ideas for teachers on her blog.

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