Thank you for visiting surthrivedu.com! This post has been a long time coming. Here’s the briefest of introductions: My name is Jeffery E. Frieden, and I have been a high school English Language Arts teacher in Inland Southern California since the fall of 2005. In the past five years, I started to grow an online platform as a teacher, establishing the website makethemmasterit.com. I was happy with the content I had produced there, but the name of the site (and all of my socials at the time) was slowly forming a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t want to be known as someone who was “making them” do anything. It was time to find a name that better aligned with my values, one that was more emblematic of my journey as an English Language Arts teacher for the past 15 years.
I settled on the name SurthrivEDU (and thankfully no one else had claimed it). As an ELA teacher, I have had my fair shared of stories where I almost threw in the towel, or where I was on the chopping block because my employer lacked funds. There were a number of years that felt like a fight just to make it the next year. And during those times, I didn’t just survive, I also grew. I was surviving and thriving at the same time, which I noticed was theme among many educators I was interacting with online.
As teachers, we all know that in the best of all possible scenarios, we would be nurturing our students into leading their own learning. Yes, we of course want to present them with desirable difficulties because that tension will push them past themselves, but we would structure those challenges in a role of support and encouragement. Shifting that thinking toward educators, there are plenty of teachers out there who experience this type of support in their teaching contexts. But there are also many, many teachers who do not. Many of us feel like we are fighting for own development in our teaching roles. When there is no nurturing, things slide back to surviving. But for a lot of us, that’s not enough. We want to be thriving.
Those who fight for their own growth without support are “surthrivers.” Since this has been my experience, that is the name I have chosen. I am an educator who has pushed through some difficult circumstances–though certainly not as difficult as a great number of teachers out there–and continued to develop himself at times when there was no support. I have surthrived. I am SurthrivEDU. And many others are too.
I’ll be honest. That felt pretty cheesy typing it out. But it is my story.
At the close of 2019, I announced a rebrand on Twitter (@SurthrivEDU). When the calendar turned over from 2019 to 2020, I had every intention of publishing content here a couple of times a month. That was put on hold because I was preparing to appear at a conference in Southern California in late February, which went very well for me. After some rest, I planned to come right back here and kick things off properly. Then it was mid-March and we were told to stay at home, and all of our teaching lives changed overnight.
I went from a teacher who augmented his instruction with technology while moonlighting as an online content creator to a teacher who solely used technology for instruction. And since I was creating online content all day for my job, I decided to halt all platform content creation until I could wrap my head around this new world of teaching. At points, the familiar feeling of walking away from this gig were surfacing. This has been a tough year. And it is one where, largely, I went from ‘surthriving’ to ‘surviving’ for so many reasons.
Finally, in April 2021, I am ready to re-emerge (at least, I think I am). So here I am, ‘surthriving.’ Thanks for reading, and welcome to the journey!