Monday, January 14, 2013

The Blame Game

Today's post is by @mattbgomez, a kindergarten teacher in Dallas, TX.

CC Image Courtesy of Calgary Reviews

If you are on the Twitterz and hang around Kinderchat at all you have probably seen #blameMatt a time or two, thrown around by my friends there. A while back I suggested they all try a new app and told them they could blame me if it did not work out. That concept stuck and I have been blamed for many things since. Tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff, upset that the Canadian penny failed, or frustrated trying to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius...? Yep, #BlameMatt.

It is of course almost always done in jest but blame is an important topic.  I think the blame game is the second most important predictor to success in the classroom (relationships being most important). Todd Whitaker sums it up perfectly in his book What Great Teacher Do Differently: "Good teachers consistently strive to improve, and they focus on something they can control: their own performances... Great teachers look to themselves for answers, while poor teachers look elsewhere" This concept has to be part of EVERY aspect of teaching. Not just lessons but also behavior, classroom management,  relationships with kids, relationships with parents, relationships with colleagues, schedule, planning etc. When I was a new teacher I was not very good at this and I got sucked into the blame game often. I have improved a lot but still have a long way to go. Have you heard someone say "kids these days (insert negative comment)..." I have and I think these statements undermine real progress.

The past two years I have strived to focus on controlling the environment instead of the child. Changes have included removing rewards from the class, focusing on relationships, removing all but one rule from my class and reaching out to parents more. My classroom resolution this year is to continue this growth towards always looking at myself first when things are not going well. I know lessons will fail, parents are not perfect, my ideas will not always be supported, testing will frustrate, and there will be kids that push me to my limits but I can not control those things. I can however control my response. I have to always remember the most important things are that the kids enjoy coming to school and that they are having fun. I am confident that when that happens the learning occurs.

If you are looking for a space full of wonderful teachers that are always self reflecting, asking difficult questions and pushing themselves and those around them, look no further than Kinderchat. The space is full of good friends, great teachers and of course the perfect place to #BlameMatt.

I am a Kindergarten teacher in Texas and despite my dislike for glitter I enjoy every minute in the Kindergarten classroom. I have recently started presenting on technology in the classroom and I blog at My Hullabaloo on technology, creativity, and play.  I am passionate about using social media in the classroom and as an educator and you can find me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and


  1. Great post Matt! I'll come back and read this after a tough day.

  2. Matt attitude is one thing that we have control over, and I think blame (or need to blame) has a lot to do with that. Have you read Carol Dweck's book MindSet where she looks at growth vs fixed mindset. A very interesting read if you haven't read it.

    Now Matt, as a proud Canadian, I can't imagine who would see the Canadian penny as a failure? It was anything but that. However Canada realized that it was no longer meeting its original needs and so it has been discontinued. That certainly doesn't mean failure in my eyes. #justsayin :-)