Sunday, April 13, 2014

Good Luck, Good Bye, Bobby Jean

Since beginning this blog over a year ago, I have primarily used this space to share my thoughts and feelings about teaching and learning with others.  The motivation behind today's post is very different, and is deeply personal.  The other day, a long time colleague officially announced she would be retiring at the end of the year (her modesty prevents me from using her name).  For many, this news came as a shock because this is a teacher who is certainly not "burnt out" or on the "back nine".  In fact, I would argue she is as passionate and innovative as ever.   She toiled over the decision for months and ultimately came to the conclusion that it was time to walk away.  Although she will no longer be employed by our district, she will certainly continue to be a friend, mentor, and role model.

In 1983 during Bruce Springsteen's recording of Born in the USA, long time friend and guitarist Little Steven Van Zandt left the E Street band to pursue other opportunities.  Bruce wrote and added a song called Bobby Jean to what would be his biggest selling album ever.  The song is about saying farewell to someone you care for dearly, "I'm just calling one last time not to change your mind...good luck, good bye, Bobby Jean."

I could send this individual a card, call her up, or maybe I could even try writing a song for her.  For now I will just stick to what I'm most comfortable with, a top ten list!

10 Lessons Learned from my friend "Bobby Jean"

  • No idea is too crazy to try out
  • Teaching comes from the heart
  • There is no such thing as caring too much
  • Advocate for students no matter what
  • Never stop learning from others 
  • Give every lesson your all
  • To be a teacher is to love what you do
  • Relationships matter
  • It's never about what's best for the teacher
  • See the best in everyone around you

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Who are your students? Just look in the mirror

I don’t remember the exact context but I was recently involved in a Twitter chat and answered a question with the following statement, “As Teachers the one thing we can truly control every day is our attitude...Others will mirror what we portray-no student should be stressed.” Despite, or rather because of, the current climate filled with high stakes testing and accountability, I stand by that statement 100%. The more I thought about it the more examples of how our behavior and attitudes truly impact the development of a student’s outlook toward school and learning.

 10 Ways Your Attitude and Behavior Can Set the Tone for Learning 

  • If you’re stressed out, they’ll be stressed out 
  • Greeting students as they enter the room tells them you are happy to see them 
  • Introduce lessons with passion and excitement
  • If you use sarcasm, so will they 
  • Ask thought provoking questions 
  • Value quality work and effort
  • Smile whenever you can
  • When you stay calm in the face of adversity they will too 
  • Practice active listening with them and your colleagues 
  • Counting down until the end of the year devalues everything you do with the days you have left