Friday, August 10, 2012

just about to go dark at unplugd12

I'm at union station in Toronto and just about to go off the grid. As part of some of the activities we are doing this weekend, here is the letter I'm about to edit with some of my international colleagues at unplugd12 

I’m writing this letter to you, my younger, new graduate self, as you are about to begin your teaching career. As I write this letter you are now beginning your 30th year of this great profession we call teaching and in retrospect I thought I should tell you a few things that might be helpful as you begin your professional journey.

Remember the advice aunt Eileen told you last week. Don’t make the mistake of talking too much. Give others, especially your students, a chance to speak and then listen carefully to what they are saying.

Do be aware of the profound impact the things you do has on your students.
Sometimes you will find out how you are positively influencing students lives, many times you will not.

Don’t be such a hard-ass.
That feeling you have from time to time that your students are younger (more fragile, less mature, more vulnerable) than you think is true. In the future when your own children are grade 12 graduates you’ll confirm this belief. Be very careful how you interact with your students. Avoid decisions that are systemically violent. Students, parents, and teachers need your kindness, caring and compassion.

Do listen carefully to people that you disagree with or that you do not understand.
This will broaden your world-view in ways you can’t imagine.

Don’t hesitate when asked, just say yes to doing things with students that you have very little or no idea about.
Begin that yearbook creation project, scan those treaties, do things associated with biotechnology. You will do some of your best teaching when you are learning with your students as you struggle together to figure things out.

Do behave in ways as if you are interacting with your own kids.
Try to see your children in the faces of the students you teach. After you actually have children you will be doing this so start trying to do it now.

Don’t refuse to do a project with your class or school because you are not sure which curricular outcome(s) it covers. 
In the future we will be discussing the decreased importance of content (knowledge) outcomes and the increasing importance of the big ideas of critical and creative thinking. Many of the projects that you are thinking are not a curricular match do in fact get at these big ideas that are most important for your students. No one will ever tell you that a project that makes a difference in the world (in your school, community, or the global community) is a bad idea.

After you have been a principal for some time and worked in the district office, get back into the classroom and be a full time teacher for a couple of years. This will remind you how difficult it is to be a teacher. You’ll think you remember what its like to be a teacher, you don’t!

Here are some suggestions from a few people at a conference I’m at today wanted to suggest to you:

Rob Fisher 
August 12, 2012

p.s. the lotto 649 numbers for July 28th, 2012 are 6, 10, 22, 30, 35, and 49

pps. Definition hard-ass noun Slang: Vulgar .
a person who follows rules and regulations meticulously and enforces them without exceptions.

What suggestions would you tell your younger self?
Do the suggestions differ depending on the length of time you have been a teacher?
Maybe after the conference I'll unpack each of these points and share some of the discussions with everyone.