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Don't Be Afraid to Shine!

Photo: Some of my Shiny Supporters- My husband, Brayan, and my son, Eli.

I think we all know at least one Shiny Smoosher at our school. Do you know what I am talking about? Shiny Smooshers are most prevalent in the educational setting and found most often in female dominated professions. I fear you may be working with some of these individuals now. Take my short quiz to see if you are guilty of association, before I determine how you can deal with the situation.


Shiny Smoosher: [shahy-nee smoosh-er] noun.

1. A teacher that temporarily feels better about themselves when they bring others down: "The Shiny Smoosher told the teacher that her teaching success was a result of not having any children."

2. A teacher that has forgotten how important it is to lift others up: "The Shiny Smoosher walked right by another teacher without saying hello."

Origin: Perhaps a bad childhood experience

Symptoms of a Shiny Smoosher

Do you know any teacher peers that:

____  seem to have the "worst" class every year?

____  correct you when you speak?

____  will take your ideas, but won't share any with you?

____  won't say hello to you in the hallway?

____  try to make you feel left out...on purpose?

____  don't follow directions, but will be the first to call you out if you don't?

____ have never congratulated you, even if a large award or grant was earned

If you checked more than two of the above symptoms, you may be working too closely with a Shiny Smoosher.

Don't Be Afraid To Shine!

First, let me say that I carefully wrote about a simple case of a Shiny Smoosher at my school. Then I erased it all. It doesn't matter. I don't have to paint these individuals out to you. We painfully know who they are. And really, when you boil it down, you are going to encounter mean people wherever you go in life. The important thing is that you rise above it and accept who you are.

With a close-encounter of a Shiny Smoosher, I thought of this quote used in the movie "Coach Carter".

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Maryanne Williamson

With this in mind, I think these are important concepts to think about:

Don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd

Don't be afraid to shine

Live big. You only have one life.

Don't blame others. I like saying, "If it is to be, it is up to me."

Encourage others around you. They'll only appreciate you more.

Congratulate teachers when you they have tried something new. We don't hear it enough.

Know that you can always improve. Be a student for life.

Don't be afraid of yourself

Don't give up

And perhaps the most important thing to think about is why we are here. We are in this profession to help others. We are here for the children. That is why we teach.

Which reminds me to tell you again how much I appreciate all the emails of support. To date, I can safely say I have answered hundreds of emails from teachers around the United States and world. Thank you for helping me shine!

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You are welcome. Sorry to hear about your student teaching experience. I bet you are an awesome teacher.

Also, glad I was able to give that positive approach I was shooting for. :)

Rock on,



Hi there, wow, reading this post makes me feel better about myself! I had a Shiny Smoosher as a mentor teacher for my student teaching experience. Staying positive about myself has been challenging ever since, I began to have self doubt. Thank you for having such an uplifting viewpoint on the Smoosher!

Angela Bunyi


I am actually quite sure you are not a Shiny Smoosher. Shiny Smooshers, for one, don't seek out additional resources and other educators to get ideas. A Shiny Smoosher would have made me feel down when I read their post. Your message was actually uplifting.

And your response makes me think of one of my all-time favorite books/movies- Gulliver's Travels. You know, at the end, when he is debating whether man is really a Yahoo or not? I think we are essentially good people, so I like your "getting out of the funk" analogy. I agree and believe we all have traces of Yahoo in us. We just need to make that executive decision to shine on and be a positive force...for us and others. Writing this post made me take an extra step this week to REALLY say hello to people as I walked down the hallway. Students included. It made a huge difference in my week.



P.S. Did you hear that people, it's not you...continue being a good role model for all around you!


Thanks for the note about the smooshers. I am probably one of them, so it's nice to get a view from the other side.

I know that, for me, when I'm smooshing someone else, it is unintened. Life is stressful running from one place to another with numerous people counting on me. When I hear someone say, "Life is short," I think "You're crazy, it's so long." So, when I blow by someone in the hall without a hello, it is not personal. I don't try to knock someone off a good mood, but more, just try get to what needs to be done next.

I write this not as an excuse, but to let the shiny happy people know, it's not you - it's me. Keep on being happy. Go for the brass ring. Be brilliant and talented. Because if us smooshers ever get out of our funks, we're going to need some role models.



You are doing an incredible job. As you know, I am in aww of your site. Keep up the great job and keep moving forward. You are totally a shining star to me. :)

Shiny supporter teacher,

P.S. Thanks for the book recommendation. I have never heard of that one before.
P.P.S. I forgot to mention Akeelah and the Bee! Good one. :)

Victoria Jasztal

I can completely relate to this post, as I have been in this situation. Being around a "Shiny Smoosher" can squelch our confidence and discourage us from being ourselves. For a while, I encountered a difficult time where my confidence went through a downward spiral, but then an incredible husband and wife came to our school who encouraged me in numerous ways, from hosting Feed and Read nights to finding ways to making teaching math concepts a more interactive experience. The memories of me working alongside a Shiny Smoosher have for the most part subsided because I know I have support from my parents, my students, their parents, and co-workers.

I first heard the poem you referenced in Akeelah and the Bee. It touched my heart. I always read it to my students and their families at Open House in September.

Additionally, William Byham wrote an incredible book titled Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment: How to Improve Productivity, Quality, and Employee Satisfaction that touches upon this topic. I highly recommend it because it made me think of how I communicate with co-workers, parents, and students. It also makes you realize and accept that people tend to envy and look down on others when they haven't even "trampled on their territory", per se.

Angela Bunyi

Hey Amanda,

Just in time for the Spring Break readings! Thanks for sharing....and you don't have to explain your longer post. I remember doing the same thing a few times when Beth was the advisor here. She just kept me excited about things. I am always on the look for new books and hopefully your book link will help others as well. :)

Holy crayfish (I just like how that sounded in your post),




Thank you! I have always sort of thought of myself as a "Google Queen". (Sometimes, I even think my skill borders on a sickness of some sort.) It's humbling to see that you were able to very quickly find something that had alluded me. My quest for the holy crayfish grail is now finished. Thanks for the research!

Speaking of research, I wanted to share a little nugget of knowledge with you! My district is working on a study of sorts with Kent State University on place-based education, the implications of poverty and brain-based research. I am a teacher leader in my district, and since I just got out of a staff meeting earlier tonight, I guess you could say that I'm feeling pretty energized about it. I wanted to share some information on here to spread the word about a really interesting and enlightening book.

We are using "The Art of Changing the Brain" by James E. Zull to look at the biological structure of the brain and how it impacts learning. I saw, on your website, that you were a fan of "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites", and while that book is honestly more teacher friendly, this particular book gives a slightly watered down, less jargon-littered explanation of neuroscience. it also illustrates how understanding the basic needs and processes of the brain can enhance the learning process. It just makes sense that we would be taking advantage of what the brain already does naturally, instead of going against it. I highly recommend taking a gander. Here is a short synopsis by the author: http://www.newhorizons.org/neuro/zull.htm .

Tonight, we took a look at a few of our state standards and began to think about what cognitive strategies must be in place before we can expect students to master a skill. For example, by the end of the K-12 program in Ohio, students should be able to generate ideas for written compositions. There are, however, hidden or assumed cognitive structures required in order to meet this standard. These prerequisites are often overlooked. In order to be able to generate ideas for written compositions, they must first be able to plan, organize, and verbally express their ideas before they can write them down. They must have schema about the characteristics and structure of written compositions and sentence structure. They must be able to stay on topic and be able to relate their ideas to authentic real life world settings. They must also have a broad vocabulary. That's just some food for thought. To me, it stresses the need for scaffolding and differentiating in a cognitive sense. I think it can also help teachers to plan their lessons based on the cognitive strategies needed for a particular skill and can help them to provide experiences for those students who may lack experience in one area. Something to think about!

Okay, I'm done. Look at me! I'm acting like this is my blog! This is so typically me. If you get me started on something, I run with it! Have a great night! :)


Angela Bunyi

Found it!

The title of this paper (8 pages) is called-
The Smell of Success and Failure: The Role of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Chemical Signals on the Social Behavior of Crayfish.


This is the current Yahoo search result. I couldn't get the direct PDF link for some reason.



Angela Bunyi

Right on and well said! I am interested in the "Crayfish Syndrome". I am going to take a stab at the Google search as well. That is such a fantastic comparison. I can totally relate to that!

Keep shining,



P.S. Thanks for suggesting firefox. I tried to submit comments innumerable times and failed. :)


I definitely agree with this post. It doesn't seem to matter what phase of your life or career you are in, there are always people who try to trample you. I think we need to remember what Elizabeth Roosevelt said, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." My school environment can sometimes be a slippery slope. Some days, it feels like everyone is looking at me under a microscope, scorning everything that I do.

One coworker aptly calls this "the crayfish syndrome". I have Googled this to no avail, but apparently when you have a bucket full of crayfish, strange things occur. If a crayfish starts to crawl out of the bucket (or out of the box if you will), the other crayfish pull it back down into the bucket. This happens all too often in a school setting. If you have teachers who "shine", the "shiny smooshers" smoosh away. Sadly, instead of being encouraging to one another, often, pettiness gets in the way of professionalism.

In a test-driven, worksheet booming world, you just have to trust that you are doing what's right and be self-motivated. As a relatively new teacher, I have learned that you can't wait for others to give you a pat on the back. You have to "just do it" Nike style.

Angela Bunyi

Shine on to you too!

Your Shiny Supporter...



agree, agree, agree! I could have written most of your post!

I also have a son named Eli.

Shine on!

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