This Week: On Twitter, Teaching and Creating

This week I’m reminded to keep being vulnerable over, yes, 280-characters-Twitter, where I: 1. formed a story I’m telling Sunday 7pm 2. interviewed about my 1st year teaching 3. was found for a podcast coming tomorrow 4. will moderate a #miseduAsian chat next Wed. 6/3 on shame, Asian Americans, and mental health in schools! More:

When I tell people that I love Twitter, they look at me first like I’m crazy, and then tell me I’m one of the few people using Twitter “right”! I’ve been on Twitter since July 2013, for many years under the username angryteachr, and writing under that name: I changed my username to AnnieTangent to reflect my whole humanity and not just the space I take up as a teacher.

Twitter has been a generative space for sharing ideas, my activism and organizing, and in my eventual writing and storytelling, especially in being more clear and brief in my ideas generating and sharing. When I have a small idea or something that’s happening in the moment, I often use Twitter as kind of an experimental space for my writing, and also to get immediate feedback from my Twitter community, who are virtual acquaintances but strangers in real life. Who knew?

So it made sense that, when I was in an anxious-COVID-19-induced spiral early last week, I started tweeting about it:

Post-midnight COVID19-anxiety-induced Twitter thread on my intersections of identity:

Last Monday night I was in a terrible headspace, which ebbs and flows during COVID19 times. I realized that I’ve been attacked on all sides of my identity for the past few months, as a Chinese Asian American who’s teaching immigrant families living in Chinatown, NYC. And the tweet thread really resonated with folk, which I am happy about: you can read by clicking the tweet above.

As I note in the Twitter thread, I began thinking about these intersections of identity I inhabit because my friend and fellow storyteller, Nestor Gomez, who started the Immigration Stories Podcast that I’ve been featured in, asked me to tell a story about teaching and immigrants during COVID19. I, with my imposter syndrome, didn’t think I had something worth writing, but Twitter validated that, indeed, I had something important to say, and that it’s hard, especially for all of us who are currently in a DEFENSE mode, and especially for all those people who are ALWAYS in defense mode:

I will be telling the story that came from this Twitter Thread THIS Sunday, May 31st at 7pm at “Be The Cure: An Evening with AAPI Artists and Activists (Facebook link), a FREE virtual event where we will be fundraising for Dumplings Against Hate, which provides emergency small business relief for NYC’s Chinatowns who were hit hard by anti-Asian racism and xenophobia even before NYC shut down. I’m FIRST in the lineup, so hope to see your face virtually! Sign up for the event below: if you can’t make it, please donate to support Chinatown workers!!

This week I also happened to be clearing out my emails and discovered emails from 2012, when I was deep in my first-year teaching disaster with Teach For America and a charter school which relied on young, impressionable teachers and which has since closed. I again went into a shame spiral around how terrible that first year was, what mistakes I made, and remembered I almost left teaching entirely because of Teach For America. I’ve written about my experience with Teach For America before and was involved with a #ResistTFA movement that made TFA recruitment go down 25% in the past, so I didn’t expect to get so emotional.

But it’s funny that the shame and the guilt that comes from teaching, especially when you’ve been made to fail at it, doesn’t go away, especially since teaching is an art built on relationships. Instead of staying isolated in my shame, I decided to write about it over Twitter again:

Who knew 9 years of shame, guilt, trauma from Teach For America would come right back?

After that thread, Mercedes Schneider, a public education advocate who has been writing a blog I’ve admired for years, asked to interview me about my experience. You can read my original Twitter thread above, and my interview with Mercedes Schneider that came from the thread now. Thanks, Mercedes!

A lot of that shame comes from not feeling like we have a voice, but we do, and we have to use it. I’m reminded of that every time I tell my great-aunt Lily Chin’s story about her fight for justice for Vincent Chin. We cannot silence ourselves because we’re ashamed: we have to speak up.

That’s why, when I was asked by Grace Chen of @miseducAsian to moderate a #miseducAsian Twitter chat next week for APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) educators, I decided I wanted us to talk about shame and mental health in our schools, as that fierce and complicated emotion and feeling causes us to isolate ourselves and fight within our communities. I will be moderating the #miseduAsian Twitter Chat Wed. 6/3 at 8pm which you can follow on Twitter at @miseducAsian and the hashtag #miseducAsian! See more below:

Lastly, I spoke out a few weeks ago against the announcement that Governor Cuomo here in New York wanted to partner with Bill Gates to “reimagine” schools without consulting educators an without considering all the negative things Bill Gates has done to education for over a decade. I will be featured in the Tiny Spark Podcast, which investigates nonprofit doings, alongside Diane Ravitch, a public education advocate and giant, tomorrow! Thank you Amy! See more below:

Who knew Twitter would help me generate so much over the years? I am grateful for meaningful social media connections over the years, and hope you all are finding ways to connect and get out of the shame spirals.

Much love, and thanks for reading,


Published by Annie Tan

Annie Tan: Teacher, Activist, Storyteller.

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