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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Dear Hannah: LEarning (Blind Spots) (1-24-2021)


Dear Hannah,

I am a "Standup Storyteller".

I am comfortable standing up and speaking my truth.

Here's today's truth - I have blind spots.

Help me to see them today by listening.

Let's go.



Support Our Work - Buy This Podcast (SEE BELOW)!



"Blind Spots"
By Derrick Brown

Greetings, good people.

My name is Derrick Brown.

I am a "Standup Storyteller".

I am comfortable standing up and speaking my truth.

Here's today's truth - I have blind spots.

Help me to see them today by listening.

Let's go.

"1. Daddy's Home"

I have a special set of skills ... acquired over a long career ... that make me attractive as a workhorse problem solving employee ... but not necessarily as a leader.

Let me say that this lack of validation follows a pattern in my life.

This lack of validation has become my validation.

I spent several years away from formal employment to help raise our now-7-year-old daughter - and to reinvent myself.

After that much time away, it was difficult to re-enter the workforce.

I found a job as a math teacher in an alternative education setting.

I replaced a teacher mid-semester.

She left under dubious circumstances.

I was told this during my interview, with no details.

I did not need the details.

I have instincts ("spidey senses") and experience.

I had a new boss.

My new boss had an assistant.

My new boss had a boss.

As a mid-year replacement, I hoped that all of them would offer support ... especially since I was stepping into a sticky, tricky situation.

This is not quite what happened.

My new boss and his boss did not care for each other.

My new boss and his assistant did not care for each other.

As I worked to build rapport with my new students, I had a rough time with one of them who was quite outspoken (and profane).

I worked a little harder with her.

I think I got her suspended at least twice during my first 6 weeks (for directing profanity towards me).

We built a good relationship, though.

I think that I became part of her "safety zone" - which was fine.

She became my favorite student.

My boss' assistant and this student did not like each other.

If you have not caught on yet, my boss' assistant is a special individual.

On the last day of the semester, teachers sponsored a holiday feast.

It was moved from the teacher's lounge to the cafeteria for reasons that were not announced.

All students who were at school that day were instructed to come to the cafeteria for their regular lunch.

Teachers were called to the cafeteria at the same time to begin the feast.

Most of the students in attendance walked to the cafeteria with me.

They thought they were invited to the feast.

I thought they were invited.

They were not.

They were asked to enjoy their leftover sack lunch, and to watch us enjoy our feast from the corner of the cafeteria.

I asked our boss if the kids could join our feast.

He said that they could.

My favorite student made it known that she did not appreciate the initial exclusion.

Several teachers were annoyed that students joined the feast.

They were more annoyed with my favorite student's comments.

My boss' assistant (who was sitting at my table) made a negative comment towards my boss for allowing the students to eat with us.

My "spidey senses" started tingling.

This looked like trouble.

I was happy to head home for the holidays, but knew that this might turn into something.

"2. The Fallout"

As the Spring semester started, I used our professional development day to get wise counsel about what had happened at our feast.

The best advice I was given was to be careful that I did not become portrayed as the teacher who was for the kids "too much".

Good call, but it was already too late.

I applied for a $500 grant near the end of the Fall semester.

I won the grant, and the awarding agency brought the money to our front office.

No one was there, so they gave the money to me directly.

A few days later, my boss called me into his office.

I thought it was to congratulate me for winning the grant.

He asked me if I had seen the email from his boss.

I had not, so my boss showed it to me.

It was a passive-aggressive reminder that as a new employee, I was on a limited contract ... that would not be renewed until I completed my yearly evaluation ... and was requested to return by my boss.

I know this, so the "reminder" was more than that.

What I know now is that my boss' assistant reported me to my boss' boss.

I do not know why ... but know that she has been recently promoted ... and that this is not a good look.

What I know now is that I was reported for being for my favorite kid "too much" ... and that I was letting her get away with "murder".

What I also know now is that my boss's boss told my boss to tell his assistant (who reported me) to check up on me to "see if I was doing my job".

My boss asked the complainant to lead the investigation of my performance and behavior.


What people think of me and say about me is none of my business.

I did not miss, though, that neither my boss - nor his boss - said anything directly to me about what I had done.

I get it now.

That would have made the matter too easy to resolve.

At worst, maybe I am a new teacher who does not know any better ... and needs some professional guidance.

Or maybe I can offer another perspective on this story that can render it a "non-story".

When nothing is said, though, any accusation against a male teacher (by a female supervisor) can be fully weaponzied.

My boss's boss can use this against me and my boss.

My boss' assistant can use this against me and my boss.

My boss can use this against me.

At this point, I can see that I am a pawn in the schemes of many.

My boss became harsh towards me for several weeks.

I know now that it was perhaps because he took a lot of heat for not knowing what was happening in his building.

What I know now did not help me then.

It created a lot of pressure and stress in a job that I had not had for 2 months.

I am new to this job ... I am not new to performing well under pressure and stress.

So I performed well.

I think I made my boss and his boss both look good during a special mid-semester schoolwide evaluation held on a Thursday.

My boss was so pleased that he came clean about everything that had caused me to be scrutinized for 6 weeks.

He even told me who reported me, and how ridiculous he thought the report was.

He told me that I would be on his team again for the next year.

My next reward, though, was another surprise evaluation the next day (a Friday) at the end of the class period.

Well played by my boss' boss.

He may have been trying to get all evaluations and contracts done before we were interrupted by the Spring 2020 pandemic.

He may have been trying to catch me slipping one more time ... just in case my Thursday exploits were performative.

He may have been doing both - throwing the rock and hiding his hand (as they say).

"3. The Conclusion"

So here's the blind spot.

The Spring 2020 pandemic is a well-known crisis that still impacts our daily lives.

Good leaders never let a crisis go to waste.


Strong leadership during a crisis can cause growth ... in character, ego, popularity, and chicanery.

It can also be a great time to serve an agenda with little opposition.

At our best, we are ever-improving versions of our former selves.

At our worst, we are self-interested, controlling beasts who quote our re'sume' any time we are challenged ... and talk about ourselves way too much.

I see both from my boss' boss.

I also see that in myself.

At the end of the day - he has to handle and account for his.

I have to handle and account for mine.

But my eyes are wide shut.

I do not think with my eyes.

I am fully focused, man.

And I am not easily fooled twice.



About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)



I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2024 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.



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