For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.
The other day I talked about quick writes as fan mail. Today I’ll share a quick write that has become a regular habit for me…notes of appreciation for colleagues. I am lucky that I work with so many amazing teachers, and a lot of their day can be pretty isolated from their peers. I get to regularly visit their classrooms and see the great work they do. I want them to know that somebody sees and appreciations what they do every single day. I try to quick write a few notes to staff each week to let them know I notice. Sometimes it is a secretary, a librarian, a lunch lady, an administrator, or an ed tech as well as a teacher.
I found some cool envelope-shaped post-it notes that I use to create these mini letters of appreciation. You can see they are meant to be short and sweet-like a quick write. They fold up and seal just like an airmail envelope.
This week at our staff meeting, our principal did a similar quick write activity. She had slips of paper with everyone’s names on it 3 different times. We were to draw out 3 names and quick write a note of encouragement or compliment to these colleagues. It could be anonymous or we could sign it. Everyone left the staff meeting with 3 encouraging notes written to them. Our principal is going to post them in the staff room so we can continue to feel the appreciation for one another.
This quick write activity takes less than 5 minutes but the positive effects can last a long, long time. If you don’t have fancy post-it notes don’t let that stop you. I invite you to try at least one “special delivery” quick write each day this week and spread some much needed loving kindness in your school (or community).
This past week was TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK and I must say it was wonderful. Parent groups at each of our schools showered us with treats, meals, and notes of encouragement. They were so generous. I truly felt appreciated.
The social media was exploding with memes of support and appreciation for teachers. Most were quite humorous. Many had me giggling but were sadly true. While it is great to have a week of acknowledgment and appreciation, it would be far better to have policies and public discourse that backed up those sentiments with action that supported our schools every day. Those parents who spoiled us with kindness this week get that. They are the ones who care year round because they see firsthand the dedication of teachers and staff who work with their children. I understand it is harder for those who aren’t regularly in schools to have a similar level of appreciation. But there are some things they could do.
What are some things teachers/educators would like to see year-round that would help them to feel appreciated?
- Be proactive at budget hearings when communities are discussing expending money their children vs. cutting taxes. Schools are not welfare programs. They are an investment in our children and our future.
- Be open minded when you hear stories about “terrible schools” and “bad teachers”. Could there be multiple sides to a story? Could the the disclosing party have some bias? Does any one person/event exemplify every school or teacher?
- Remember those “big bad unions” are made up of those individual dedicated educators who are collectively trying to better the lives of the teachers and students in our schools. They do not have evil or greedy motives. No one is getting rich being a teacher.
- Share stories of dedication and success that your children experience or that you know going on in your schools.
- Avoid social media “pile ons” of negative posts, complaints, and passive aggressive comments. If you have an issue, try to solve it with the level of respect and understanding you would like shown to you. Talk directly with the involved party and don’t air dirty laundry that only riles up those that live for drama.
- Look beyond a score. Our state gives schools a “report card” grade that in no way represents any of the dedication, passion, or hard work that goes on in the school. It simply reflects a high stakes test score. And that test score simply mirrors the socio-economic status of that school community. There are soooo many factors that go into educating a child-many are way beyond a school’s influence.
- Read between the lines. As with the above statement, headlines are meant to grab the readers’ attention. Articles and news stories about schools are condensed versions of the whole story. Be a critical consumer of information and avoid making assumptions based on one source-every day hard work and dedication usually doesn’t find its way into the news cycle. Stories of successful students and teachers don’t sell newspapers.
- Communicate with schools. Ask them what they might need. Share resources. Publicize events. Schools need partnership with communities-they are integral to our communities.
- Assume best intentions. In essence, believe that teachers and schools are doing the very best they can, strive to become better, and truly want what is best for their students. If you can keep this in mind when you speak or act, you will have the respect and appreciation of teachers as well.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to a teacher this week. You have no idea what your kind gestures, words, and treats meant to each of us.
What’s On My Book Radar
Seriously…WOW! Lauren Welk has created an unforgettable story that is destined to be a classic. Annabelle is turning 12 and growing up in a quiet Pennsylvania hollow. Her family befriends a WWI vet (Toby)who seems is “different” (We’d now recognize him as having PTSD.) Life is peaceful until Betty Glengarry walks into her school. Betty’s bullying is something Annabelle can handle, her lies and hurtful behavior begins to threaten others and Annabelle struggles with how to make things right. Courage, loyalty, and kindness are themes that linger long after I close this book. Put this one on your MUST read list. You won’t regret it. Recommend mature 5th grade and up
Serious NEWBERY contender here!!