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Education Opinion

Letter to New Teachers

By LeaderTalk Contributor — April 07, 2011 3 min read

Ryan Bretag | @ryanbretag

As May approaches, student teachers are stepping out of their pre-service shoes and entering the profession as new teachers. What message are we leaving these new teachers as they depart on their journey?

Dear New Educators:

Welcome to the greatest profession! Your energy for learning, students and their passions makes you a wonderful addition. I have no doubt the difference you will make in the lives of learners and to the field of education, so I simply remind you to please...

... Go Fishing Down the Hall
Go after it with your scholars. Challenge them, challenge yourself, and take risks together. Leverage the natural creativity that flows from you and your students. There will be restrictions, roadblocks, and hurdles. Fight through these for what is best for student learning. Don’t compromise your students or your talents for standardized curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Go ahead, be subversive!

... Keep Your Door Open
I am giving you a gift. It is a gift that I hope you will someday give to someone else. It is a door stop. Use it! Let the world know what is happening in your classroom. Let them see the risks, rewards, failures, and successes. Welcome visitors and get your scholars comfortable with engaging visitors. When an administrator or colleague walks by, wave them in. Invite colleagues into your classroom and learn from their wisdom while sharing yours. We have too many one-room schoolhouses that are doing wonderful things that few know about. Breakdown those walls.

... Open the World to Your Students and Open Your Students to World
Linking technology, engagement, and learners with powerful instruction is a must in the 21st Century. Do it! Don’t be afraid. If you receive resistance, state your case and paint the picture of what is possible. Be the model if they need it. Confront every yeah, butts head on.

... Keep Your Values of Choice, Community, Discovery, and Play Intact
These four unlock the door to engagement and passion-driven learning environment. Live by these and bring these to all you do. Your scholars will grow in all facets of life because of the relationship you form around these values. Don’t let the push to tell you “what and how to teach” ever change this about you. Have fun! Teaching and learning are fun!

... Establish your Design Sense for the Learning Space
When your scholars enter the classroom, let them feel and see those values you hold dear. Move away from the traditional, sterile classroom that will be standard-operating procedure for many. It is easy to go with the flow and succumb to the expectations in place. Resist and bring to the school, the classroom, and the scholars the learning spaces they deserve.

... Grow as a Leader
Teacher leaders are key to systemic success. You are a leader and your voice is critical. Be that leader. Speak to as many teachers as possible. Learn from them. Listen to those that are about to retire. They have so much wisdom but they too often go untapped. Be the one that honors them and celebrates them by carrying on their success stories with your actions. Keep growing as a learner and model what you believe about life long learning. Think systemically! Think big picture! Think beyond your classroom!

... Don’t Lose that Smile and Passion!
Right now, education is being tormented and attacked. Educators are being torn down and struck at our core. It will be easy to become discouraged by this and the restrictions that are placed on teachers preventing them from doing what we know is best. It will be easy to become consumed by the negativity brought to our profession. Don’t! We need your voice to remind us why we are here and help those that have become tired of being torn down and perhaps have stopped fighting.

... Keep Moving Forward with every thought and action!
I leave you with this quote, and challenge you to keep learning, keep playing, and keep growing.

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.