There are secrets that teachers should never reveal.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.24.34 PMI’m not talking about the three days you went to the beach pretending you had diarrhea. Not that. File that under “mental health.”  Never speak of it again.

I’m talking about skills. Never reveal them. Most of the world wants to show off skills. People inflate them on LinkedIn. They give themselves high-fives, “likes,” self-marketing tweets or K+ whenever possible. Occasionally, people even lie about credentials.
In this tough economy, it seems natural to tell the world about skills. It’s good to say things like, “Hey, I balanced the budget,” or “I cured cancer.” Recent college grads could be tempted to brag “I got the boss’ grande hot decaf triple five-pump vanilla non-fat no foam whipped cream extra hot extra caramel upside down caramel machiatto.”
In teaching, keep your skills to yourself…or expect trouble.  There are several skills that should never be revealed. If anyone finds out you can do any of this, run for the mountains.
1. Event organizing: I’ve been on every committee–even some whose acronyms I never knew. “Sure I’ll be on the A.S.S. committee.” Achieving Student Success? I can organize something for that.” I’ve tied bows, fundraised, planned. Event planning is hard. If discovered, you’ll be snagged for everything from proms to graduation. All of these require fundraising, so you’ll be doomed unless you’re rich enough to pay cash for the event out of your family holdings. Your teaching pay won’t cut it. Get ready for bake sales and car washes.
2. Calligraphy: “Hey, can you calligraphy something for me? Thanks.” I’ve received stacks and stacks of book awards, certificates, and envelopes. I appreciate things looking beautiful, and calligraphy is a meditation for me. I don’t mind it. It’s the, “You can bring them to me tomorrow,” that never quite works out in the end.
3. Speaking other languages: This is the danger zone. I can never turn down helping out when necessary. I sound like a foreigner in each of the languages I’ve never completed studying. I do try, but I do so with a disclaimer. I suggest people not happy with fact I translated “embarazada” instead of “avergonzado” invest in some Rosetta Stone or watch Sabado Gigante themselves.
4. Writing grants: Nobody has any money. Grant writing is a 24-hour job. It’s a lose-lose situation. If you don’t get the money, you’re a loser. If you get it, you have a so much more work to do on the grant project itself it becomes a punishment winning the money.
5. Fixing copy machines:  Never admit to being able to fix a copier. It’s the kiss of death in education. I take a deep breath, meditate, open the bowels of the machine, and stick my hands in hoping not to get them chopped off or get myself electrocuted. This is a win-win each time. If I fix the machine, I get to work. If it goes horribly wrong, I get time off.
Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.22.12 PM6. Knowing anything about computers: As someone with few skills and negative common sense, I’ve been tracked down to fix computers by plugging things in more than once. I’ve repaired printers by turning them on. I hope it never gets harder than that or I might not look so impressive.
So hang on just a minute before you update your LinkedIn or shout out your big win on Twitter. You just might end up being the organizer of the next prom or chasing the Gates Foundation for pencil money.
But don’t worry, you got this…you’ve got skills.
I’m not going to tell you about mine.
[photos: and]