Challenge Accepted (My Teaching non-Negotiables

A colleague from Buhler, USD 313 (#313teach) challenged us to list our top five teaching non-negtoiables. I put this off because I hadn’t gotten the inspiration I thought I needed. So I finally just started typing on my iPhone in bed.  Originally I thought I would have to take some time sorting through possibilities, but it turns out these were all on the tip of my tongue already. 

It is truly insane to see where I have come from in six years of being an educator. My top five my first year probably would have been:

  1. Quiet students during work time
  2. Harry Potter as a read aloud every year.
  3. Do cool things with technology
  4. Don’t make parents mad
  5. Play games in PE with my class, and win

Ok so number five is still one that I care about. Especially the part about winning. 

Obviously those aren’t exactly the most impactful things to focus on as a teacher. I am glad I have grown!

Here are my current top five non-negotiables.

  1. Relationships with people come first. It is impossible to gain traction with students, colleagues, initiatives, as a leader, etc… without first developing a relationship with the people you are serving.
  2. Constant growth. I refuse to settle for my abilities right now to be as good as I ever get. Lack of growth on my part is not good for my students, colleagues, leaders, family, and mostly myself. As a competitive guy, looking back on my past self without it being obvious that current me would crush past me in a teaching competition*, (is this a thing?) would be devastating. (Does this sentence make sense? I feel like maybe it doesn’t but I’m leaving it.)
  3. Solid pedagogy comes first. As an integration and innovation guy, I readily admit I have skipped this in the past because I saw something new and shiny. I firmly believe those in my position have to have adult ADD to bounce from new thing, to old thing, to somewhat new thing, to “hey, what if this was a thing?” etc… but the quality learning has to be there first. Sometimes it may be theoretical, but if what I am advocating has no clear alignment to objectives or standards we should trash it.
  4. Treating kids like kids, but also like adults. Our students need us to be that one caring adult for them. They need us to accept them for who they are and realize that they are learning and will make mistakes, but we will be there the next day, hour, or minute with a blank slate. They need us to treat them like adults by not selling them short on their abilities. Expect more of them and help them get there.  When a kids forgets their pencil, provide it for them without judgement, just like you do for adults. 
  5. Family time. My wife and I will have our first little one in October. In order for me to be the best educator I can be, they must be my priority. I don’t function at my best if Kelsey and I aren’t spending quality time together and they deserve my best self at home as well.

Let me know what you think. Is there anything I left out? Thank you, Samantha Neill for challenging us to do this. We should probably all look at this each year so we know what we’re about. 

*Seriously, teaching competitions should be a thing. Pick a standard to teach and a panel of judges scores each lesson. There could be categories for co-teaching, blended, small group, etc.. Think about it


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