Monday, August 09, 2010

An Open Letter to Teachers (My 2 Cents)

Bud Hunt wrote an excellent, thought-provoking blogpost, An Open Letter to Teachers, that gave me just the lift I needed today as I get ready to return to school in two days. I urge you to read the full text from Bud, but just a few things he suggests are that teachers:

  • Try hard not to work all the time.
  • Take learning risks; for yourself and your students.
  • Be a good role model for your students.

    and my personal favorite:
  • Need no one's permission to postpone a due date or modify an assignment for the benefit of a student.

    Any time I've had parents express concern over an assignment, my response is to offer to modify the assignment and to ask what the parent feels the child is capable of doing. This is typically not where the parent was going and usually diffuses a potential confrontation. There are however, times when I've made modifications based on individual needs and it has meant the difference between success and failure for the student.

I'd like to add my own 2 cents to Bud's list; just a few more suggestions. Please add more of your own in the comments.
  • Eat!
    Eat lunch every day with another adult. Do not eat alone in your classroom while you work. It's important to have some adult time during the day.
  • Draw big circles.
    Circle items in your plan book that you didn't get to. Get to it the next day. When you rush just to get through something, you're not doing your students any favors.
  • Ask and you shall receive.
    Build an online Personal Learning Network of colleagues using Classroom 2.0, Facebook or Twitter where you can go, after hours, and share resources and ask for help. Do not add students or parents (current or past - unless they are truly like family to you) to your Facebook friends.
  • Beware of The Energy Suckers
    You know who they are. The teachers who have nothing nice to say, complain all the time and won't go away? Learn to look at your watch and say, "I have a meeting"or just don't encourage the conversation. It's difficult for one person to carry on a conversation entirely alone when all the other person does is smile and nod their head. 
  • Enjoy the Autonomy
    Having been in the classroom for 26 years and district admin for 5, I can tell you that classroom teachers have a lot of autonomy. Enjoy the fact that you can get a creative idea and implement it the next day if you like. Everyone above you must jump through flaming hoops of red tape in order to move anything forward. Believe me.
  • Beg forgiveness
    Should you ask permission for everything or beg forgiveness for a few, if any, mistakes? I say, beg forgiveness. Your students will be better off. Just don't be stupid; after all we don't want to read about you in the paper
  • Be realistic
    As an elementary teacher, my first day of school motto has always been, "If they get lunch and they get home, the day's been a success!"
Bud says, "And share the good stuff. Your stories are all human ones, and they are all special, just as each one of you, and each of your students, is special. There is always someone curious about what you’re up to."

Once again, I agree. Share what's going on in your room. Share with us (blog), share with your students in conversation, share with parents, share with colleagues. We can all learn from each other. 


Mark Barnes said...

Thanks for sharing this, Lee. Although all or your "2 cents" are excellent, I particularly like the one about not eating alone in your room. I used to work through lunch at my computer. A friend invited me to the faculty lounge for lunch one day.

What I found was remarkable. there were six teachers escaping the classroom, talking about life and laughing. The laughter is a wonderful and necessary elixir to anything that may be troubling you on a given day.

Kelly Faulkner said...

yes, thanks for sharing. we're about halfway through our third (of 4) terms this year, and at this point, mid-winter, it's easy to forget what we love so much about teaching when bogged down in administrative work. and i spent every lunch in a meeting last week! this week, i will go to lunch with my colleagues :O)

Carolyn Rains said...

Thanks Lee! That was just what I needed.

Susan said...

Excellent post! Thanks for sharing...I am going to try and link on my blog as well. :-)

Susan @ Lenses on Literacy

Jo Fothergill said...

We've just had some new building done at school and one of the things our principal did was ban school work from the staffroom - it's a place where we can sit (in comfort and in the sun on winter days) and chat or read a magazine or doze even. It's so much more inviting than our last staffroom was.

Mrs. Johnson said...

I like the draw big circles. I think it is important to remember that we don't need to rush just to get things done. Quality is more important then quantity.

I also think it is very important to get enough rest! Being well rested is so important to many things in the classroom.