More Constructive or More Critical….

To be honest, I am my own worst critic. Nothing is ever good enough and anytime I do something, I always feel it could be done better. I think to be able to maintain high standards, but ones that do not damage your self-esteem or worth can be difficult. There is such a fine line between confidence and cocky, constructive and critical and I seem to tip-toe that line between the latter two on a consistent basis.

When I hear the words “constructive criticism” it feels more like an oxymoron to me now. One of the main reasons I feel this way is because the intent and motive behind the constructive criticism are huge factors in whether the information will be received as more constructive or more criticizing. What is our intent when we share a constructive criticism? Is it to make the other person better? Is it to provide guided and helpful feedback? Is it driven by our ego? Is it because what the person said or did hits a sensitive nerve? Is it because like Snoop said, “animosity made you speak what you spoke?”

Aside from the intent of any constructive criticism, another huge factor is the relationship you have with the individual. I know as a very extreme type A person, it is so much easier for me to take any feedback or suggestions from people that I have a built relationship with. Their constructive criticism is less critical and a lot more constructive. The reason it is easier to receive is because the person knows more about me. They know what things are going on in my life. They have my best interest in mind. They know if my intent and motives are legit and pure. They know what makes me tick. They know enough about my history and have seen the foundation which I’m trying to build upon. Their constructive criticism feels more like moving bricks, suggesting different bricks to add, and helping me in restacking bricks to make my “house” strong.

On the other hand, when you do not know the person, that constructive criticism seems more like a wrecking ball bashing levels of your “house” and has no constructive nature or intent at all. The critical part of the remarks are a lot more resounding. In these situations, the constructive criticism can be myopic without necessarily having all of the facts because the personal connection is missing. In cases like these, silence is sometimes a lot more beneficial because perceptions and observations are allowed more fact finding time. By gathering more data and knowledge you aren’t exacerbating the situation, but instead helping to bring more clarity. At times, I now realize when I feel the need to be critical towards other people, it’s better just to be silent. It is not my job to fix adults or have someone conform to my expectations. Instead of imposing my expectations or sharing constructive criticism, my energy would be better served improving upon my imperfections instead.

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Is there a time and place for criticism? Yes, when one is speaking out against oppression, blatant hatred or disrespect, or systems that are unfair or unjust. Those situations usually deserve a critical tongue in order to be broken down or deconstructed. We live in America so everyone has the right to free speech, both critical and not. My concern is, should we offer constructive criticism of people? Well in my opinion that answer is both yes and no. Again it goes back to do I really know the person? What is my intent? We should also understand when we offer constructive criticism that it might not be well received. It might be like throwing water on a grease fire, might severe ties, might even create a negative ripple effect that reverberates for others. Unfortunately,  I just hate seeing constructive criticism go awry and happening to students and even adults when we all can improve personally first. We should all just be more mindful when we decide to give constructive criticism. I am definitely making an effort to be cognizant of offering constructive criticism and will choose more often to remain silent and personally improve instead. Ultimately the goal in mind when sharing ideas, suggestions, feedback, or constructive criticism is for everyone to improve, right?


Unapologetically bold….

Timing is so amazing, great, and sometimes weird. Recently in a Voxer group, members were discussing when and how people of color should speak out and when we should be “cautiously quiet” in edtech or educational spaces. As a weird coincidence, at almost the same time this discussion was taking place, I was completely blessed by the opportunity to meet and hear Mrs. Ruby Bridges speak. It was an amazing crossroads of conversation and opportunity that really hit me more emotionally than I thought it would.


Image via Flickr

Hearing Mrs. Bridges (Hall is her married name) speak was both deeply emotional and thought-provoking. The experience was made even more memorable because I had the chance to share it with both my mom and my daughter. It was an honor for my daughter, mom and me to hear first hand the emotions, feelings, and experience of a civil rights icon. It was so powerful and surreal. It was moving to hear Mrs. Hall vividly recount her first day as a first grader as she made these powerful statements:


  • She was placed in a class by herself with one teacher. She only knew other students were in the building because she heard their voices every day through the wall in the closet where she hung her coat. Not until her teacher threatened school officials was she allowed to see and interact with the other students in the building.
  • Her entire neighborhood walked alongside and behind the car the entire trip, she, her mom, and the US Marshals rode to school that first morning.
  • She was one of six other children of color who passed a biased and rigged test that determined who would be allowed to integrate all-white schools in New Orleans.
  • Both of her parents were sharecroppers, neither of them made it past 9th grade. Her mom convinced her dad to allow Ruby to integrate William Frantz Elementary School.




To be able to hear about a six-year-old girl and her parents who made the decision to not be cautiously quiet is almost indescribable. This unapologetically bold decision has forever changed the face of education in this country. Equally amazing is the confidence and strength portrayed in images of Mrs. Hall’s first day. Her visible confidence, unwavering determination, and boldness are so inspiring. As a woman of color, it is these same characteristics I wish to instill in my daughter as well as bring to my job every day. Sitting back and being cautiously quiet is not where change is made or things are fixed. Being cautiously quiet is almost as dangerous as silence. It shows you accept status quo. Be bold and purposeful with your actions and words.

Is there some danger in speaking out? Absolutely. Is there a chance you are labeled or ostracized for standing against something? Definitely. I realize there are inherent risks involved in advocating for students of color, speaking against inequities, and asking for less bias and privilege in the world of education or educational technology. However, the thing I’ve realized is all great leaders presently or who’ve come before me have been bold and purposeful with their words and actions. These great leaders are not cautious or quiet, have boldly done the work, and in some cases, are relentlessly continuing to do more. Those who are unapologetically bold in education, demonstrate their unwavering determination and are “about that life” as my friend Jose says. The risk of being unapologetically bold for what is right is worth the reward. It is my duty to use my abilities, talents, and voice to continue to raise questions and bring light to inequities that marginalized individuals face in education. If I don’t, I nullify what an unapologetically bold, beautiful brown girl did in New Orleans in 1960. Being unapologetically bold is authentically who I am and what desire to cultivate in my daughter. I don’t know how to be any other way.