Monday, April 25, 2011

An open letter to teachers...

Dear teachers,

We have a lot of respect for what you do. Your job is extremely difficult, and we understand the many difficulties that encompass being a teacher. Your ability to lead an entire class is frankly amazing, and more importantly, you always seem cool, calm and collected despite what might be going on. There are times when we would love to be back in the classroom; there are other times when we can't imagine going back. Your job is definitely not an easy job, but as administrators, here are a few things we would like you to keep in mind:

1) - When we ask you and your fellow teachers for opinions and feedback, we would really appreciate it if you would take us seriously and put some thought into ways we can improve our school. We know you have a lot on your mind, but if we are going to take the time to ask you, we are doing it because we value your opinion.

2) - We love visiting your classrooms to see the students growing and developing, but when we visit a classroom and the students are having a free day or are watching a movie unrelated to anything of any real value, we are disappointed and feel as if the students are being cheated. We all have bad days and difficult things going on in our lives, but please make it a priority to do something valuable for your students every single day.

3) - Professional development is something we really enjoy, but please don't rely on us to plan and develop every single PD day. We want you to have a say and a voice in YOUR professional growth, and as such we would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. We also really would like you to take our PD days seriously and go into each session with the mindset of, "what can I learn today?"

4) - Can you please stop writing office referrals and sending students to the office for not coming to class prepared or coming late to class. We are here to support you and help you do your job, but if we are constantly tied up dealing with small and petty issues like this then how are we going to have any time to tackle some of the larger issues? Please talk with some of your colleagues and see how they handle these the student's parents...take a moment and talk to the student BEFORE sending them down to us. 

5) - We understand the importance of being visible and in the halls in between classes, but our administrative team is not very large. We will try our best to be in the halls as often as possible, but sometimes things come up and they need to be dealt with immediately, consequently we need your help. We need you in the halls helping to cover the spots we aren't able to cover. It's a group effort, and you play a crucial role in our overall effectiveness.

6) - Sometimes a lesson doesn't take the entire class period, or the students get done quicker than expected, but please do not allow your students to line up at the door. Furthermore, please do not let your students stand in the hallway as they wait to leave your class. Your class time is valuable and should not be discarded so easily. If your students end class 5 minutes early every day it adds up to over 3 weeks of instructional time over the course of the year. Think what your students could learn in that much time.

7) - Time is limited, and when we try to implement new programs we are doing so because we believe they can help students. Unfortunately, when we try to initiate a new program it seems as if a lot of teachers immediately disregard the program because they think the program will be pushed to the side and simply forgotten by next year. We realize it's difficult to implement several programs simultaneously, but they are aimed at improving the educational experience for our students. Please give our programs a chance before casting them to the side...our students could be missing out.

8) - When you were hired you were hired because we think you are the best, and because we think you are the best we want to get out of your way so you can do great things. We want to empower you, encourage you, and watch you take risks in an attempt to do some awesome things, but when we see you do the same thing every year we wonder if you really want autonomy. Additionally, we would be more than happy to provide you time to observe some of your colleagues if this time was used productively. Please be the awesome teacher you were hired to be.

Don't take this open letter as us trying to tell you how to do your job. As Educators we must all be open for suggestions and advice, and we hope that if anyone had any advice or suggestions, they would take the time to inform us. As previously mentioned, we understand all the parts of your job because we were once in your shoes, but we hope this letter provides a small reminder of how much your decisions and actions affect others.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to your response,

The administrators

(Check out my "open letter to administrators")