Are End-of-the-Year Motivational Campaigns Insulting to Teachers?
As the school year winds down, some teachers use Facebook and Twitter to encourage their colleagues to stay motivated and finish strong. And while many teachers responded positively to the messages, some say it feeds a false—and insulting—narrative about the teaching profession.
The Twitter campaign #LastBell, which was originally launched in 2016 by the Women in Education Leadership Voxer group, started up again this week. The campaign will run throughout May, and invites teachers to share resources and motivational messages to encourage each other "'til the last bell rings."
Commit to teaching 'til the last bell rings!#LastBell is a movement to encourage and celebrate fantastic teaching in May. May 1-31 join us by sharing resources that support teachers to teach until the #last bell rings. #wmnleadEdu #edchat pic.twitter.com/yKQJdudpOW— Lisa Dabbs (@teachwithsoul) April 29, 2018
Following the #lastbell movement because the final month of school is just as important as the first! 📚 📖 ✏️— Miss Sandidge (@miss_sandidge) April 29, 2018
While some found the posts uplifting, many teachers raised concerns about the unspoken message behind campaigns like this one. In a short open letter posted on Twitter, English literature teacher David Theriault asked, "Do you think us classroom teachers just give up three weeks early? Do you think the public needs another reason to think teachers aren't doing their job?"
English language arts teacher Jodie Morgenson agreed, tweeting, "If you need me, I'll be teaching, planning to teach, attending PD to improve my teaching, or reflecting on my teaching ... until the end of the school year AND throughout the summer."
Others shared similar complaints:
This #lastbell nonsense is another example of needing to create a hashtag without thinking about the wider message. It assumes teachers need to be told we should be teaching well all the way through. It assumes teachers get lazy.— Doug Robertson (@TheWeirdTeacher) April 30, 2018
How about start with a positive opinion of us?
What is this #lastbell/"make May matter" nonsense? In 20 years of teaching I've never ONCE shown up for school thinking it was a day to kick back. How about starting with the assumption that teachers are working all the time? Lordy.— Lali DeRosier (@LabCoatTeacher) April 30, 2018
I don't work with a single teacher who hasn't expressed their need and desire to squeeze in more content as the year wraps up. @teachwithsoul the #lastbell movement is offensive in its assumption that great teaching isn't already the default— Jessica Stage (@Jessica_C_Stage) April 30, 2018
The assumption with #lastbell is that Ts are notorious for not teaching until the end of the school year-that we are not furiously attempting to squeeze learning opportunities out of every last limited moment we have with our Ss.— Jodie Morgenson 🤖 (@morgetron) April 30, 2018
Thanks but no thanks for the "reminder." https://t.co/SXCkXuhtYO
And some educators offered explanations as to why the perception of the "end-of-the-year slump" persists. "The #lastbell stuff is nonsense, because it's the standardized tests that created the idea of the 'lame duck' period at the end of the year anyway," middle school teacher Jana Maiuri tweeted.
Those not in the classroom, especially, need to remember most teachers are exhausted & overwhelmed by year's end. What looks like laziness may just be survival mode with overwhelming expectations. Of course we should teach to the #LastBell - but if someone isn't, consider WHY.— Jenny Garwood (@luckeyfrog) April 30, 2018
Update (May 3): Seemingly in response to the stream of negative comments about the campaign, there has been a burst of support for #lastbell on Twitter.
Teachers, do you find end-of-the-year social media campaigns encouraging or exasperating? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated who started the #lastbell campaign and when it began. It was started by the WEL Voxer group in May 2016.]