The Jagged Edge

3081313302_52c663eb6a_m-2When you  lead change, when you engage in innovation, when you go against what is safe or the status quo practice, you live on the jagged edge.

And when you live on the jagged edge, you’re going to bleed.

When I first began this journey five years ago, it came as a shock when I ruffled feathers. When people didn’t like what I was doing.  Or when they didn’t understand it. Or, at times, when they even tried to oppose what I was doing. There are people who jumped to conclusions without even asking me, or talked behind my back. Some people were bolder and emailed or said it to my face, the latter being quite rare. Sometimes it hurt so much I cried.

I would love to give some pollyanna account that 5 years later it doesn’t bother me. But I’d be lying.

I’m still often misunderstood, even by people who ask for my insight. I receive email that cuts so deeply that I’m shocked at the meanness of it. Today I’m dealing with this very situation. The first time I read it, there is this moment where what is being said about you begins to sink in, and you feel the pain because of it.  The second time I read it, I felt the full force of it, and I cried.  And then I shared it with my husband.

Thankfully, he’s a wise man. He told me to never read it again. To delete it. There is no good to come of reading it over and over.  I think he actually used the phrase, “Haters, gonna hate”, but I’ll let that one go. And he’s right. There are times when you need to confront people, and there are times to disagree and let it go. Even when it hurts. A lot.  Rereading or replaying those situations only does more damage to us.

I don’t say this flippantly or dismissively. It doesn’t mean I don’t hurt; I do. It doesn’t mean I don’t get angry or frustrated; I do. It doesn’t mean I don’t get hung up on it at times and replay it far too often; I do. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like walking away from the whole thing; I do. Trust me, I do

Instead, I need to be reminded why I do what I do.

For me, it comes from an unlikely source. I don’t watch NFL football; so for me, it’s not about the Seahawks, for which many of you are, likely, thankful. I’ve watched this video four times today. Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to the words over and over and over.


When you lead change, there are people who either can’t change or won’t.  There are people to whom you are a threat. But we cannot allow ourselves to dwell here. There are too many kids who desperately need their voices to be heard. Who need change, so they can discover and develop their gifts, passions and minds. There are teachers who need to be empowered and are hungry for learning and developing new ways of teaching and learning.

It takes courage to act. It takes courage to start over again.

So in spite of today, I’m in control here. I’m coming back. And I’ll be stronger and better because of it.

About shelleywright

I love education & learning, which likely explains why I'm a teacher. My areas are ELA, Sr. sciences, and technology. My classroom is best described as a student-centred, tech embedded pbl/inquiry learning environment. Furthermore, I am Buck Institute for Education National Faculty member
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16 Responses to The Jagged Edge

  1. annsielaff says:

    I don’t really understand why you would get hurtful comments, but I’m sorry that you do. I follow your blog because I think it’s full of great stuff and you are a great writer. I actually quote you on my classroom website. I love to read your posts, and I’m sorry about your father. I understand why you feel that the posts should be professional, but I appreciate it when bloggers share their personal stories, especially one like that. Teaching is personal.
    Blessings to you, and I appreciate your work.

  2. Wendy Blancher says:

    Glad you are back, Shelley! It was wonderful to meet you at the DL Conference in Vancouver. I can relate to your comments. I often feel that I am totally out of step with everyone else and the pressure to march in sync is constant. Suggestions and ideas for changes, even when clearly supported by research, are often ignored or misunderstood for sure. It can be so defeating! Drive on through. You know you are right, Shelley. I am so happy to hear of your new job and am excited that you will be able to make some meaningful course delivery changes in line with your philosophy of learning. I know you will create some wonderful things for learners. Lots of changes for you all around.

  3. hhobbs1 says:

    Great to see you posting again Shelley! Just want you to know that your words do make a difference and inspire many of us. I always believe that people who attack others to be hurtful says more about them than those they are attacking. Stay steady to what you know is your truth!

  4. Thank you for sharing your powerful words. Not everyone agrees with us or likes us all the time. Just do what you do with conviction. The unhappy ones are the loudest. The happy ones often say nothing, but they really do outnumber the complainers. Carry on with your head held high, and smile.

  5. tconnor2014 says:

    I have been a follower and when your new post showed up, I thought to myself that I had not heard from you in awhile. Thank you for this incredibly vulnerable and courageous and inspiring post Shelley. I needed it today. I hope I do for others what you have done for me. Thanks
    “Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!!” Winston Churchill

  6. Rachelle Goncalves says:

    It is unfortunate that the feedback that we often hear is negative. What should be the focus, for those on the ‘jagged edge’ is the positive that comes of the work. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned to you, and your work, as inspiration and for encouragement. I have been working on following what I believe to be the right thing for students, and much of my determination comes from reading your blog. I am sorry that I haven’t reached out to you sooner, but I can guarantee that for the all of the mean feedback you may receive there are more people who are learning with you, working alongside you at a distance, and just haven’t shared how much your blog and experiences have helped support our journeys. Thank you so much for all that you do; as a teacher I am better, as a learner I am better, and my students are directly impacted as a result.

  7. Dear Shelley,

    As someone who frequents the jagged edge, I want to thank you for putting words to your experiences and feelings – and especially for being willing to share it with the world. As an inquiry instruction fanatic, I am never sure how I will come across. At one meeting, people want more and are inspired. At another, people (literally) walk out. Up and down. Sometimes I feel like I’m too old for this – all the ups and downs. And then, I remember (or am reminded by wonderful people like you) that this IS life. This too shall pass. Be true to yourself. The fire in your belly is there for a reason. Let it live.

    Gratefully – and in solidarity,


  8. tallinotte says:

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring. Stay strong and resilient. The world needs people just like you.

  9. Ayşin Alp says:

    I am writing to you from the other side of the world, İstanbul, Turkey. I love your posts and ideas and you are a great source of inspiration for me. I am sure a lot of teachers all around the world feel the same. I can understand how you are feeling as I have experienced it many times. Please go on being a great leader of change. We all need people like you.

  10. aysinalp says:

    I am a teacher from the other part of the world, from İstanbul, Turkey. I have been reading your posts for years and you have been a great source of inspiration to me. I am sure there are many teachers all around the world who feel and think like me. I can understand how you are feeling as I have experienced similar negativity. I know that you will go on being a great leader of change. I just wanted to thank you for being a great source of inspiration and help for many teachers in different parts of the world.
    Best wishes,

  11. Heidi Partti says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, thoughts, struggles and victories with us. I don’t understand why anyone would like to hurt you, but I do hope you know that for every person trying to discourage you there are so many of us – all around the world – who have been touched and encouraged by your work! Although I work in a slightly different context, I have applied your ideas in my own teaching, shared your posts with my university students & colleagues and have time and again felt challenged and inspired by your writings. Keep up the good work and don’t let anyone bring you down!

    All the best from Finland,

  12. I am doing some work on an Education Ph.D. with a focus on language and literature. One of my study participants references your inquiry methods in her own planning. When you know your ideas have wide impact on on the thinking and practices of other educators, who cares what the haters think? From what I understand, your method of inquiry puts “create a model” at the forefront, and then has the student think critically about that model. You’re starting with the ‘zone of actual development’ before pushing students to think more deeply. That is so respectful of the student and her thinking. It’s such a far cry from the blank slate days when we essentially told students what to think of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. : )

    Thank you for blogging!

    Warren Nickerson

  13. I stumbled across your blog today from Bianca Hewes’. And this post really struck me. Thank you for sharing it. I hope you’re still hanging in there. xoxo

  14. Luleta Dardovski says:

    Please don’t stop! You inspire me to be better and are guiding me through my P.hD in Curriculum Advocacy! The world needs you even if you don’t know it

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