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No More FOMO

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is often used to get folks to buy, buy into, or sign up for things that are beyond their ability to pay for.  When I say pay for, I mean fiscally, physically and emotionally. It’s a more gentle form of a scare tactic. Or a guilt trip…..and I am so sorry that it has taken over our society…..particularly our teaching community.

That might sound a little weird coming from someone who promotes conferences and works as a consultant.  But I want teachers to know that they ARE NOT expected to do everything and be everywhere. When we do that we inevitably end up robbing Peter to pay Paul.  We end up broke, and broken and it isn’t worth the price.

So be careful with FOMO.  It’s true, this PARTICULAR conference will not come again (whichever one you are hoping to attend but don’t have the time/money/energy for.)    But another one will. And a lot of the same people will be presenting and attending. It’s going to be a little sad, but totally okay if you don’t go.  

Between 1990 and 2010, while my boys were growing up and living at home full-time, I just couldn’t go to much.  It was impossible. Or, it was possible, but so much work to get everything arranged that I just couldn’t imagine it.   Not to mention the money it would cost and the days I would have to miss from work (yes…many of us have second and third jobs.)   When I could go, it was utterly amazing….and I so wanted to go to everything. It would have been wonderful. But it simply wasn’t possible.   

I was already overworked and way behind on sleep.  Overloaded on guilt and suffering from impossibly high expectations.  I’m grateful that FOMO wasn’t so much of a “thing” then as it is now. I would have ridden the FOMO train and probably found a way to be the conductor.    And did I really need that? More to feel bad about?   

Nope, nope and nope.  And neither do you.

Forget FOMO.  Instead, try embracing.  Embrace the time that you have with your children, or your parents, or your neighbor or whomever else needs you right now.   Those moments go just as far to make us better teachers than a jazzy slide presentation. Embrace the moments that you have chosen to watch a game, or do laundry or even catch up on grading.  Your sanity will thank you for it. Embrace the money that you didn’t spend and use it to pay off a bill, save for a real vacation or treat someone you love. You can’t buy wisdom and insight and patience.  Embrace the fact that you have the emotional power to make the choices that you want to, rather than the ones you feel pressured into by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.  

Don’t get me wrong….I want you to come to conferences, workshops and trainings.    They are the gathering places for our community to meet in person, to share, to meet, to feel at home, to be professionally refreshed.  But with so many choices, remember that advertising is designed to make you feel that every opportunjty is the big one, the most important one, the don’t miss one.    Don’t go because you don’t want to miss anything. Go because you are in a position to be filled with all it has to offer. If you feel pressured, or guilty, step back.  If you are not sure how you feel, step back. If you are really stretching to fit it in, step back.

If it is outside of your personal budget (time, money or energy), stay home.  Settle in and put your feet up. Drink cocoa. Catch up on something (even sleep!)  In the long run, you will be a better human being….which will make you a better teacher.   

Our field is a great place to be right now. Many, many more opportunites are just around the corner.   I promise.  

So if I see you at a conference or a workshop I want you to be able to go all in and enjoy it…..or go home and get some rest.   It’s a wonderful gift to give yourself. No fear, no pressure, no guilt. All ready, all in, all joy. We’ll be there when you’re ready.

With love,


Pat Pinterest Doesn’t Exist

Pat PInterest Does Not Exist

Pat posts a plethora of pictures of the classroom. Pat poses pictures of conferences.  Pat poses in pictures with presenters. Pat posts and posts and posts pictures.  

Pat posts ideas.  Pat posts other people’s ideas that look amazing when Pat talks about them.  Pat posts about students. Pat posts that students are perfect! They love Pat, they love Pat’s room, they love Pat’s curriculum and they all score well on Pat’s assessments.   Pat’s students perform perfectly and create perfect projects. Pat is really hard to live up to. Even parents love Pat.

Of course, so does Pat’s prinicipal.  Pat’s principal does put Pat down. Pat’s principal pays for conferences so that Pat can pose for pictures there and post them on Pat’s page.   

Pat’s entire existence make us feel incompetent.  But the truth is that….

Pat PInterest does not exist.  On Pinterest, or Twitter, or Instagram or Facebook or on TPT or even on Pat Pinterest’s Perfect Blog.   Pat Pinterest is a figment of our imagination. Pat Pinterest has been created by the society in which we live and fed by our own insecurities.  But Pat isn’t real. There is no Pat.  

So let Pat go.  If you see someone who appears to be Pat, remind yourself that Pat, nor anyone like Pat actually exists.   Every teacher has struggles. Every teacher has students who challenge them. Every teacher has a colleague who treats them poorly.  Every teacher has a curriculum that won’t work for every student. Every teacher has some parent enemies. Every teacher has at least one administrator who doesn’t “get it” from time to time.  Every teacher has students who refuse. Every teacher has days when the lesson plan doesn’t work, weeks where the lesson plans feel like they came from the Wing It File.  

If someone really appears Pat-like, know that somewhere there is a trade-off.  Pat Pinterest, the perfect teacher, CAN NOT EXIST. And no one can expect to be like Pat for just that reason.  

So don’t let Pat Pinterest take up residence in your head.  Don’t let yourself see Pat in posts on social media. Pat’s Plethor of Perfect Pictures?  They are all posed. Yes, Pat poses her pictures then posts them so that we suppose that Pat’s world actually exists.    But there is no Pat Pinterest….no matter how many people are following Pat. Pat is a poser.  

We don’t need to be Pat.  

We don’t need to be like Pat.

We don’t even need to want to be like Pat in order to be good enough.

If you care, and you are trying, you are already good enough.   

Forget about being like Pat.

Be yourself.

Revel in your occasionally messy room because students feel comfortable there.  

Celebrate the lesson that went off-script because you and the students got excited about something else.

Honor the people who help you through the hard days of teaching and don’t worry if you have never met a “guru.”  (who also don’t exist by the way.)

Embrace the fact that not all of your students achieve all of the time.   They help to remember that it isn’t about us.

Recognize the days that you feel too tired, too dizzy, too hungry, too nauseous, too achey to do the job well.  We have students in class every day who feel the same.

Be thankful for the times you lose your temper or tear up.   They allow you to thank your students for their patience and remind them that we are all, truly, just human beings trying to survive.

Let Pat go.  Pat doesn’t exist.  You do. And that is what really matters to your students.

With love,