Ten Tangible Tools for Teachers

…put people first, and the rest will follow…

I retired from full-time classroom teaching earlier this year, and have been sifting through years and years of nostalgia and boxes of “just can’t get rid of” stuff.  A tattered 1/3 sheet of faded Xerox paper surfaced among other precious treasures in my “Motivation” folder, and I rediscovered the ingredients to a quaint “Back to School Kit” given to me by a veteran teacher back in 1994.  As the only new Lower School teacher to be hired in eight years at this prestigious, private school, I was overwhelmed by generous bits of sage advice from well-intended colleagues, parents, and board members, as to how to successfully immerse myself in the culture of this elite school. Low and behold, in mid-August, an “older” (she seemed to be so to me at the time) educator gifted each teacher in our Lower School with a baggie (pre-Ziploc era) filled with 10 simple metaphoric items.  At the time, it was charming, cute, and hastily read, as new textbooks, class rosters, and bulletin boards beckoned us to hurry along in our preparations.

Fast-forward to today, with the hindsight benefit of my retiree-reflections, the simplistic message speaks volumes about the human aspect we need to offer ourselves, our students, and our colleagues in order to evolve into a seasoned, strong teachers.  Pedagogy, methodology, technology, and solid teaching skills are all essential to becoming a profound educator.  But remembering to cultivate a risk-free and trust-building relationship with all stakeholders is vital, not only  at the beginning of each school year, but a compelling component for building, nurturing, and maintaining a solid learning environment in the classrooms throughout our tenure as educators. Sprinkle this bag of tricks with common sense, wisdom, and flexibility, and you’re on your way! Simply stated: Put people first, and the rest will follow. ‘Nuff said… J

(Author is unknown; I’ve taken some editing liberties.  “Margaret” is the beloved teacher who gifted us all with the wisdom.)

“Back-to-School Kit”

  1. Rubber Band – to remind you of the importance in giving hugs
  2. Tissue – to remind you to wipe someone’s tears (or your own, so you can see the tears of others)
  3. Button – to remind you to “button your lip” and listen more
  4. Toothpick – to remind you to pick out the good qualities in everyone, including yourself
  5. Band aid – to remind you of healing hurt feelings, either yours or someone else’s
  6. Candy Kiss – to remind you that everyone needs a nice treat occasionally
  7. Gold Thread – to remind you that friendship is the golden thread that ties together the hearts of everyone
  8. Eraser – to remind you that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and that’s all right
  9. Lifesaver Candy – to remind you to think of your parents and colleagues as livesavers. Whenever you need to talk, feel free to go visit with them. Ask for help
  10. Mint – to remind you that you’re worth a mint to a lot of people

About Jane Roe Cooper

I am a lower school educator navigating the complexities discovered while guiding the development of young minds.
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