Dear New Teacher,


better cabbage

Dear New Teacher,

You said you wanted a plant for your classroom. Here are three. Don’t worry, I checked. They aren’t poisonous, so no worries if a curious kinder puts a leaf in his mouth. As far as I know cabbages are hypo-allergenic. The girl at the nursery explained that no flowers means no pollen in your classroom. And, she assured me that cabbages are very easy to care for.

“How easy?” I asked her.

“Just put them in a sunny window and water them,” she guaranteed.

It didn’t seem like it could be that easy, though, so I pressed. How much water? How often?

To Grow Happy Cabbages:

Set them up in a sunny place with light and space to grow. Give them ¼ cup of water every other day, or so. Check their soil to be sure it’s dried out before you water again. Voila! You should have healthy, thriving cabbages.

Maybe that advice goes for your students as well.

To Grow Happy Students:

Create a bright room for them with plenty of space. Water them with new things to learn and things to bring joy. But check their little bodies to be sure they’re ready for more before you teach another something new. Signs of oversaturation may include leaking from the eyes or excessive wiggling. You’ll know they’re thriving if you see plenty of smiles and they’re leaning into learning like plants lean towards the sun.

Or maybe we could use a recipe for how to stay healthy as a teacher.

To Keep Teachers Alive and Thriving:

Be sure your environment is both energizing and soothing to your taste. If full sun is too much, consider turning the lights low for part of the day. Water frequently–no seriously, teaching makes you thirsty. Stay hydrated. Also water yourself with things that bring you joy. When you feel yourself starting to dry out, give yourself a dose of what makes you happy–reading books just for you, chocolate milk, a run, whatever it is. Also fertilize yourself with new learning. Consider a time release formula that will gradually bathe you in new ideas to consider or strategies to try rather than a one time application. Mentors and teams are great for that!

If the nursery girl’s advice was right you’ll have healthy cabbages, thriving kiddos, and a green leafy teacher-self. I mean a happy teacher-self.

If she was wrong, or if it is in fact more complicated to keep cabbages alive, no worries. You can always start over with new cabbages…or something else. Every week is a fresh start with your class. You’ll continue to build on the weeks before, but if one week is too wet, the next will dry things out. If your kids (or you) are feeling a little wilted from too much sun (or wind, or whatever) one day, you’ll adjust and bounce back in the days ahead.

An Experienced Cabbage Farmer


P.S. Don’t be alarmed, but not all your kids are cabbages. You may have peas, tomatoes, sunflowers, and more. The seed pack doesn’t come labeled so you won’t know until they start to sprout. Some will need a little more or less of the ingredients in your classroom (stimulus, structure, music, movement, quiet, independence). You’ll have to experiment. But they’ll all thrive on your love.

11 thoughts on “Dear New Teacher,

  1. Brilliant advise….brilliant piece of writing. The letter structure is simple yet clearly makes your point. The farming analogy works perfectly. I’m printing this ag hanging as a reminder! Thanks for sharing. Have a great day at school today and all year long.


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