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Digital Learning


R - E - S - P- E - C -T

Find out what it means to me
R - E - S - P- E - C -T
Take care, TCB

Hi Teachers! Sorry, but there's another oldie running through my head again today. The original title of this post was "What's On My Teacher Desk?". For real. 

I was going to share some tips for things that would be helpful to you in the new school year - props to have at the ready for your "performance" as a teacher each day, my favorite planners and pens, family pictures, the best cold and hot drink holders. Thought I had some great ideas for you. May share that at a later time. I'm also planning a series of posts about easy, fun, and healthy family meals for busy teachers. I taught Shakespeare to third, fourth, and fifth graders for eleven years, and have had so many requests to share how that was done, that I'm also planning to start spilling all those beans right here soon! Hope you'll stick around for the fun to come!

As teachers, holding the next generation in the palm of our hands though, I feel we need to tackle some of the tougher issues as well. Please don't take this as a political statement by me in any way, but our Vice President Joe Biden mentioned teachers in his speech at the recent Democratic National Convention. He said that teaching is not just what we do, but who we are. That's a pretty powerful statement in my book. Look in the mirror, teachers. You know it's true. You are a teacher every day of every month for 24 hours, and for the rest of your life even if you leave the classroom. Always a teacher. 

RESPECT was written and performed by Otis Redding in 1965 and later performed and made iconic by Aretha Franklin in 1967. The words of our elders which so many fail to pay any attention to these days. Don't you hear it all the time in the hallways of your school, in staff meetings, and on your Facebook pages: "These kids just don't have any respect. I don't know what's wrong with them. How can I fix this?" 

I'm hoping that my 36 years in the classroom gives me the right to tell you that the easiest and most efficient way to "fix" that is to give respect rather than to just expect it. You can talk about respect and teach about respect all day long, but the children are watching you every second. They can see who you really are. So you not only have to give respect to the kids in your classes. You have to live your life that way. When you treat another person - any person anywhere - with disrespect, it changes you. It changes who you are. It changes the teacher you face in the mirror each morning before you head off to school. 

TCB stands for "Take Care of Business", as in "get a job" in 60's slang. It can also be interpreted as "to do a good job". Isn't that just what every teacher wants? To take care of business in his/her own classroom? TCB. So many outside forces trying to disrupt that business every day. What can we do? We want respect and we want/need to take care of business.

The current climate with our upcoming election mixing with social media and people weighing in everywhere, many without thinking first, is particularly trying. Hard to maintain who you always thought you were. Stand strong, teachers. You are good people with the most positive of intentions and the chance to make a real difference for kids and to impact their future. Please don't let them down!

Some things you might try:

A favorite questioning technique of mine when I was in the classroom was to ask a student who might be reluctant to answer (when they said "I don't know.") , "What would your answer be if you DID know?" Try it! You will be amazed! I was.  So WHAT IF you truly loved and respected every single child in your class from the first moment you met? What would that look and sound like? Get to know as much about each unique and wonderful little human as early as you can before classes start. Find something to love and show it. I promise it will be returned in kind once the initial shock wears off. So many of our little ones aren't used to being treated that way. So WHAT IF? 

What? No, no, please stay with me here...So what if you called your students by the name of the adult role you were trying to create? Instead of "Boys and Girls", "Dudes and Dudettes", or even the wildly popular "Class!" "Yes!" (Yeah, I tried that too!), how about calling them "Writers"as you start a writing lesson, "Readers" as you begin to read (Like Lucy! But I was doing it long before she published those units. It's just good practice,) Call them "Scientists" as you pull out the equipment you'd like them to respect. Announce, "Engineers, I have a challenge for you today." as you begin a STEM lesson. You get the idea. They will rise to the occasion. I promise.

I got a letter from a former student who now works as an architect in California designing the interior spaces of public buildings like hospitals. She said in her letter that when I called her an architect in third grade before we built those houses that the big bad wolf couldn't blow down, she realized that this was something she would like to be, and it had a name. Name calling! Love!

I recently posted a beautiful (I thought) cartoon of three children on both my personal and business Facebook pages. It showed a little white boy with the caption: (Since 1789) "I could be President." Next cartoon photo - little African American boy: (Since 2008) "I could be President." The last photo showed a little girl with the caption: (Since Tuesday) "I could be President." It drew some wildly polarized comments.

I got slammed on my business page by two Trump supporters even though I stated first in my post that it was not meant as a political statement by me in any way. I took it down. I am sure they are no longer following me. That's fine. BTW, I monitor all comments on this page, so if you've commented (and I hope you will!), just wait a few hours before expecting it to appear. No need to post it twice!

And on my personal page, from another former student also now a successful grown up, "I love how she shows young girls they too can be President. Maybe it was my awesome third grade teacher and elementary school, but I always knew I could be President." She always knew! Love! And proof! Try some name calling this year!

As I said above, and as I said in a previous post Tackling Tough Issues, I always try to stay completely neutral around kids. They deserve a neutral environment in which to form their own conclusions and to grow. I also try not to make political statements on social media. Nobody likes to be attacked, and I don't want my responses to those attacks to change who I am. Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion on any topic. As teachers though we owe it to ourselves and our students to keep a watchful eye over what we say and do in public. You might not be media friends with your particular students or parent community members, but a friend of a friend of a friend could someday see what you have posted. 

I told my students when disagreements arose that I may not love everyone I work with, but that they would never be able to tell who I might not like so much. I really recommend that.  A coworker might be a royal pain, but you will feel oh so much better inside if you treat that person with kindness and respect. 

Build relationships this year with your students in the kind of community where they feel safe to take risks with learning and friendships, and to speak their minds in a discussion. Once that community is functioning the way you had hoped and built upon, each day that you close your classroom door, you create a safe zone for every child. When people are shown respect, friendship and love, they learn to spread it everywhere they go.

I hope each of you has an awesome year, taking care of business in a classroom built on R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

And for a few ideas and resources to build that amazing learning community of yours, I hope you'll visit Rainbow City Learning on TpT

For more August Teacher Talk ideas, check out the blog posts below:


  1. I love your post! It is a great reminder full of wonderful tips to start the new school year, thank you.

  2. Retta, I love all your posts: they're so real & relevant. Thanks for the terrific reminders! (And I never knew what TCB stood for; thanks! Lol)