A Tribute to Our Veteran Teachers

Teachers are brave. Learning takes boldness and determination. And as teachers, sharing our own learning with other teachers takes courage.

Today I’d like to honor our veteran teachers.

I was honored today to be invited to another school in my district to witness the fruition of work they’ve been doing around workshop and particularly conferring with readers. The work began last year with piles of resources for reading levels and bands of text complexity.

You can imagine: multiple sources that are all relevant, all structured differently, each a nuanced twist on the thinking and work around these bands. Sometimes when confronted with piles of information we throw our hands up and then tuck the pile in a corner for “someday” or never.

One veteran 5th grade teacher didn’t.

He saw the jumble of resources as potentially beneficial, but problematic in its current form. He saw that his readers had needs that sometimes felt hard to pinpoint in conferences that focused on the day’s mini lesson. He felt that, as a teacher, he could use something to give shape to his conferences with readers over time instead of a set of disconnected experiences.

So he chose to grapple with that jumble of related but dissimilar resources.

Over time what he developed was a synthesis of those resources in a format he felt he could use himself and could share with students. And he and his students grew stronger as a result. And then someone in his school noticed the work he had done, the work he continued to do. And they invited him, encouraged him, convinced him to share his work and his learning with his colleagues.

Witnessing his carefully considered presentation this morning made me think of the courage it takes to learn and to reveal the process through which we learned. If we learned something it means there was something we didn’t know. Putting that out there for the world to see is risky. Clearly this teacher is a lifelong learner. He operates with a growth mindset or he would not have undertaken this project to push himself and his readers. But it was risky. He had to be brave.

His colleagues were wowed by his work.

His principal was wowed. His reading consultant was wowed. I was wowed. By his openness to what could be. By his determination and struggle and success. By his commitment to his students and his profession. By his courage to share. And by the culture he helped to build for his colleagues.

Because of his courage and sacrifice, they are free to take risks learning alongside each other going forward.
Today I salute our veteran teachers who continue to learn and to serve. Thank you for your service.