I recently came across a tweet that asked the question. “What is the most overused phrase in education?” When I saw this, I immediately thought of “it is what it is.” This phrase just really gets to me. Why? How can 5 words just get to me so quickly? Well, it is what it is…but I don’t buy that!
How did I get to this point? Well, the answer is 4 years. The answer to many questions or ideas that I proposed for 4 years was “it is what it is.” Ideas that could engage students…ideas that could help parent-teacher relations…ideas that could help bring about a change in culture of the school…”it is what it is.”
Does it always have to be “it is what it is?” Absolutely not. It is only what it is if you decide to keep it that way. It is what it is if you don’t want to push the limits. It is what it is if you feel that you are complacent and don’t want to push the status quo. If you want what it could be, take that risk. Take the opportunity to be what it isn’t and show what it is like another way.
“It is what it is” can be a burden on a school. It can lead to a staff that feels that they don’t have a voice. It can lead to students not being heard. It can lead to a feeling that if it is what it is we can never get past this point. Challenging your faculty, staff, and students is is what “it isn’t” and that’s where a school needs to be. A school cannot be what it is as our society, culture, and technology changes. We need to go where our school isn’t so that we can be what it needs to be, not what it is. Let me distinguish one thing first though, traditions of schools need to be upheld. Traditions are what make a school what it is. These are ideals that need to be “It is what it is.”
I went through 4 years of “it is what it is.” It was a 4 year challenge to myself to keep finding ways to be what “it isn’t.” By taking those risks, I found that what it isn’t isn’t that bad of a place to be! Challenging what it is made me a better teacher and a better mentor and guide for my students. “It is what it is” frustrated me, but I realize that each time I came across that, I found a way to be what it isn’t for my students. I became what it isn’t for myself, my family, and my school community.
I might be unconventional and not “it is what it is” but I am for sure doing what is best for my students and the school community, but hey; “It is what it is!”