Personal Narrative: The power of “JUST” 

The word “just” could be defined as:

  1. guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness
  2. actual, real, or genuine.
  3. exactly or precisely.

However, when put with defining statements such as, “I’m just a…” or “I can just do…”, you have now changed the meaning to a limitation.

My perspective of myself, as “just a teacher” has changed drastically over the past 10 months. My journey began by entertaining my passion for educational Technology integration, which has lead me all the way to becoming a presenting innovator. However, along my path of professional growth I found myself explaining my role to people as “just a teacher”. And although anyone in a leadership, coaching, mentoring, or a training role is essentially a teacher of their area of expertise, this statement was a profound reflection of my own mind set.

Then, I came across this quote from LaVonna Roth.

Wow! I can say, without a doubt, I am a thinker. My mind is constantly muddled with creative, contemplative, and critical thought. However, I had never thought this. I preached mindsets to my students, however, never stopped to apply myself into that equation.

During this school year, it was my personal and professional goal to implement Growth Mindset into my classroom because my students were too quick to give up when the information was not right there in front of them. So I taught it explicitly to them beginning day one, I modeled my thought process as we worked on challenging classwork, and I praised their growing perseverance. However, as I continued to speak on this with my students I quickly realized, many of my professional frustrations were simply because I, myself, did not use a growth mindset.

I knew I had a passion for technology, yet there was no apparent support, a lack of technology accessible, and a limited network of support available (I couldn’t even tell you who to ask for help). My internal flame for knowledge acquisition had been ignited. As the year progressed, I put myself out there to the world on Twitter, which lead to many district and nondistrict connections. I found myself explaining to others that “I’m just a teacher” and thinking “I’m not experienced enough to do that, or present there”- despite nine years as an educator. Thanks to a friend calling me out, what I didn’t realize was I was not practicing what I was preaching to my very own students.  It was crucial that if I wanted to improve myself and be the change I wanted to see, I needed to shift the words that were reflecting my fixed mindset and not reflecting my own worth. No more “I’m JUST a teacher”. Instead I will know that I AM a teacher, and have much to offer.

“Your brain believes what you tell it. When you use minimizing words, such as ‘I’m just a _____’, you also minimize the greatness you have within. This keeps your true value from being shared with others.”

@LaVonnaRoth, #igniteyourSHINE,

Now, this was quite a process because your mindset is such a habitual behavior. You have to continuously stop yourself from having the negative self talk. I am not perfect, however, I can say that I have drastically improved my mindset. As a result, I find myself becoming more confident and allowing myself to take more risks that never would’ve happened 10 months ago, which has lead to some pretty amazing opportunities!


  • Don’t limit your value by saying “I’m just a teacher” as an excuse to not take risks.
  • Know that there is ALWAYS something new to explore and improve on to build and improve yourself.
  • Allow wonderful things to happen because you are worth it!

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