Talk TO me

To the “superintendents, chief executives and chancellors responsible for educating nearly 2 1/2 million students in America”:


I’m a teacher.

Please talk to me and not about me.

I understand we’ve been talking about each other for a while, and I’d like to work on ending this game of phone tag.

We keep leaving messages for one another in public places and, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little embarrassed. It seems people are starting to look down on my profession.

Weird, right? Especially since you keep talking about how important my profession is.

I hate to say it, but I think some of the things you’ve been saying may have played a role in that.

You’ll pardon me for saying it doesn’t feel as though you care very much for teachers. If I’m wrong, I’ll happily await the data showing facts to the contrary. Just leave a comment with a link, and I’ll check it out.

I wanted to thank you, though, for drawing attention to the importance of teacher quality. I’ve been working on mine since I entered the classroom in 2003.

From in-services at the end of school days to sometimes weeks-long trainings in the summer to attending professional conferences, I’ve really attempted to learn as much as possible.

That’s just the formal stuff. Since right around the time it launched, I’ve been connecting with teachers across the world through twitter and other social media tools to help me workshop ideas for helping my kids learn. Are you on twitter? If you are, follow me.

Plus, I’ve been using my blog as a space to play with ideas before implementing them in the classroom as well as a place to share the things that work so others can take them an build off of them.

Oh, also, I’ve connected with a couple of non-profit groups nationally and internationally that work to help teachers be better, well, teachers.

This summer, I even started work on my Master’s degree. It’s not required or anything, but I thought it would help me teach better.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to.

What about you?

What kind of learning opportunities have you been taking advantage of? I’ve seen a lot of stuff in the news about what I should be doing in my classroom and what we should be doing in my school to improve learning, so I was just wondering where you’ve been learning.

If you’re looking to start an advisory board, I’d love to join.

I haven’t seen you in my school lately, but you’re welcome to stop by. I haven’t cleared it with my principal, but I’m sure he’d be fine with it.

We’re used to visitors from all over the world, so you don’t have to worry.

I don’t want to make it sound like we’re the only ones who would welcome you.

In fact, I’ve been writing a bit recently about some other teachers across the country who have taught me quite a bit.

You might be surprised to hear about it, but quite a few teachers are doing some great things in their classrooms. If you’ve got a feed reader, go ahead and subscribe. I’ll be writing about more teachers soon.

In fact, I know at least one teacher in every state personally. You should too; they’re doing some amazing work.

Hey, I wanted to tell you not to be that upset. I know several studies have come out talking about how important my job is and how important my principal’s job is, and I know it’s got to be difficult that not much has been written about how important your job is or the great changes you’ve made in students’ lives.

Again, if you want to get that message out there, leave a comment. I’ll tweet it out.

Oh, something else. And, I’m midwestern, so I’ll have to admit to being a little uncomfortable broaching this topic so publicly, but I’ve got some questions about money.

First of all, I know the government has allocated quite a bit of money to helping schools and districts improve teaching and learning.

I was just wondering why nobody checked in with me or my colleagues about how we could use that money to shape lives and help our kids. Now, if you e-mailed me about this, I’ll have to admit I didn’t get it. I even checked my spam folder.

One other thing about money.

Quite a bit of talk has been batted around lately about the idea of merit pay.

I’d like to decline.

It’s just that I don’t want my kids thinking I’m teaching them stuff so I can get more money. I’ve got this thing going where I help them come up with questions about their lives and their worlds and then help them to work to find answers to those questions.

I worry that, if they found out about merit pay, they’d start to wonder if I was just teaching them stuff so I could get paid more rather than because I wanted them to be thoughtful and caring citizens. I’m sure it’s not what you meant, but I’d rather not have my kids stop trusting me.

Plus, added bonus, they’re already doing well on the tests you’d probably use to help determine how much I’d be paid, so that’s taken care of.

Right, enough talk about money.

If I could just make one more point before signing off. Actually, I made it before. Please talk to me and not about me. You see, in all this talk about how important my job is, I’m starting to get the feeling you don’t think I’m that important.

17 thoughts on “Talk TO me

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Talk TO me at Autodizactic --

  2. Love the tone and the message my friend. I learn something new from teachers like you out “in the field” every day. Too bad those with the money and power don't take that stance. Imagine if we all tried to learn from each other before making choices that affected all of us?

  3. A very important message that the policy makers need to hear.That said, you are one of a very small number of teachers to speak out. Get each of your colleagues to spread the word or write a letter to the editor or explain what really matters in school (learning) to everyone in your community.Keep up the good work. Thank you for writing.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Larry. More and more, I'm seeing teachers regaining ownership of the profession. I hope they're also ready to have the conversation about our greatly divergent views of what it should look like. Plurality is great, so long as the conversation is civil.

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  6. Why do you think your students would think you are teaching them stuff so you can get more money? Maybe they would think you get more money because you teach them great stuff.

  7. Mr. Chase,Don't know if you remember me my name is Josh Chalmers and you were my 8th grade teacher in 2003 I think at Sarasota Middle School. I just wanted you to know that you were a great teacher and I enjoyed you class more than almost any other class I've ever taken. More teachers should be like you. You were upbeat and made learning fun and I appreciate that. I'm a weather man in the U.S. Navy now living in San Diego. I hope everything is well with you, and email me sometime at Chalmers

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