Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#WhyITeach: Takeaways and a How-to

I originally saw this activity last year, thanks to a colleague in Pennsylvania, Brianna Crowley.   (Power to the Virtual Learning Community!) The idea kept burning brightly in my mind, so of course, I turned to Brianna (find her wonderful writing here), and asked her for tips on getting started. We also garnered wonderful and unquestioning trust and a go-ahead from administration (thank you!), yep:

Cue the song "Ain't no stoppin' us."

We downloaded the toolkit, and placed copies of speech bubbles in everyone's mailboxes on Monday morning, in prep for a Wednesday afternoon meeting, and sent out the following email:

Fellow Jets,

In your mailboxes you will each find a "speech bubble", and here's why.
We know that our staff is dedicated, and that our school is unique within the county. We are asking you to share what motivates you to teach, from inspiring moments in the classroom, to the challenges that push you. 

Use a marker (black shows up the best from far away) to write your sentence(s) about why you teach. We plan on hanging them in the hallways for students to see, and to remind each other of the inspiration that surrounds us daily. There is power in teachers coming together, and we plan on celebrating it the JM way!

This is what happened: 
Our display, posted in the hallway for students, fellow teachers, parents, and community
members to better understand why we do what we do.
And love it. 

One single question:
Why do you teach?

1. It's harder than you think. One or two sentences about why you teach? Distilling your thoughts down to the bare bones essence works its own magic. So many of us were surprised at the inherent challenge within such a simple question.

2. It instills camaraderie. Glance through the photos below,  and you'll see that pictures truly do speak louder than words when it comes to the driving forces behind our daily routines.

3. It's infectious. Yep, even our big, bad football coach (ok, so we all know he's the teddy bear type, but still...), and our trash-talkin', joke slingin', never-take-anything serious teammates gave this a shot. Although a provocative thought exercise, it is relatively painless. And the photo opportunity was the icing on the cake for laughter. Definitely encourage "photo buddies" for maximum impact!

4. It renews and helps express that intangible "something" that keeps us going everyday. Veterans and new teachers alike can find a nexus of similarity. The passion, determination, and love for what we do can only truly be understood by others in the field, and this display does a pretty sweet job of expressing a collective passion found within our school.

5. It reminds us of the inspiration that surrounds us, on a daily basis. Hang the responses in a public space so teachers, students, parents, and community members alike can see the "why" that drives us. How can negativity survive, in the midst of this?

Together, attitude does really determine altitude, and as Jets, that only seems apt. 

By all means, include a red carpet. First impressions
mean everything! And we meant serious business!
Try it, and let us know how it worked out. Tell us why you teach, and pass it on!  

Find your toolkit here:

1 comment:

  1. We followed your idea at and created the board for the writers "Why I write". It was a great experience.