An Open Letter to Teachers

Posted on August 16, 2008 by Bud Hunt
Retrieved 8/11/11 Irom
|Quoted in its entirety|
'Here in my neck oI the woods, it`s the weekend beIore the start oI classes. At my house, liIe got
Irantic this week as my wiIe, a high school language arts teacher, returned to work.
It`s about to get really busy iI you are at all involved in education. As you gear up in whatever
way that you do, I selIishly wanted to iot down a Iew reminders that I`d be telling myselI iI I
were about to get started.
First. I hope you take lots oI risks Ior the sake oI learning this year. Not iust Ior your students,
but also Ior you. Make it a goal to try to learn something in a sustained and meaningIul way that
has little to do with your classroom liIe. I`ve been trying to learn photography this year, and
while I`m nowhere close to proIicient, it has been helpIul to be in the mindset oI a learner who`s
struggling. That`s how many oI our students Ieel every day.
It doesn`t have to be a big risk that you always take take little ones, too. Ask the question that
you`re hesitant to ask. Share the writing you`re doing with your students. Volunteer to do the
silly dance at the assembly. Just challenge yourselI a little bit every now and then. We rise to the
challenge when we`re pushed. But it`s easy to Iorget to reach.
Try very hard not to work all the time. I suck at this, at turning oII my work brain and Iocusing
on being a dad or a husband or 'iust a dude reading the paper at the corner coIIee shop,¨ but I
recognize the value oI being at rest and at play, oI knowing that it`s better to let small work
things go in the name oI preserving long term relationships. You CAN be that hero teacher that
everyone loves and is in awe oI, but only Ior a little while. Then, you burn out and Iade away and
don`t do anyone any good at all.
You need no one`s permission to postpone a due date or modiIy an assignment Ior the beneIit oI
a student, or to delay some grading Ior the beneIit oI yourselI or your Iamily. All will be right
with the world iI you`re a day late, so long as you had a reason.
Be an expert when you need to be. Be a learner always. You are probably the most experienced
learner in your classroom. But don`t assume you`re the most knowledgeable person or obiect. II
you`ve a computer handy, then you`re not. Embrace that. Relationships and mentoring cannot be
outsourced or Googled. They take time and genuine concern.
Model always what you want your students to do. You and your behaviors and habits, no matter
how much you might wish otherwise, are a curriculum oI sorts, perhaps THE curriculum.
Be humble, but Iight like crazy Ior your students.
Have at all times, as GeoII Powell says, 'a healthy respect Ior young people.¨
Work on your crap detector. Teach your students to develop theirs. Read and write lots. Let your
students make meaningIul choices in their learning. Hold them accountable Ior the choices they
make, good or bad.
And share the good stuII. Your stories are all human ones, and they are all special, iust as each
one oI you, and each oI your students, is special. There is always someone curious about what
you`re up to.
You`ll have nervous days and scared days and Iailure days. But you`ll also have 'yes¨ days.
Write about, reIlect upon, and learn Irom all oI them, but build a special place to keep a record oI
the 'yes¨ ones. Return to it when you need a boost on some oI the not-so-good days.
I wish you well. I ask you to be brave and humble and kind and tenacious and wise and caring
and gentle and Iierce. We so need you to do well. And there are lots oI Iolks out there who want
to help. Do good stuII.¨

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