Dear Experienced Teacher:

Alaina Adams Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Mathematics, Mentoring, Parent Involvment, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership

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Many of my blogger colleagues have posted back-to-school letters to new teachers – and rightfully so given the often-cited exodus of those newer to the teaching profession. Our newbies certainly need some overt love and cheerleading as they embark on the newest and most nebulous years of their journey from novice to expert on the teaching continuum. As I begin my 13th year in education, however, I want to give a beginning of the year shout-out to the experienced teachers who have made a conscious decision to STAY in the profession. If you are an educator with a few years of teaching under your belt, embrace the term “expert” and know this:

You are a rock star. It’s true. Now that you’ve gotten your sea-legs, you can quickly articulate what you’re doing, how what you’re doing aligns to the goals you’ve set, how you set those goals based on what you know about students, and what the data/artifacts say about how students are growing under your expert tutelage. I’m betting that this entire cycle of effective teaching happens seamlessly and within minutes sometimes – all without formally typed lesson plans.

We see you. We see you coming to work early and staying past the end of your contracted day. We see you volunteer for “other duties as assigned” and creating new programs where you see a student need. Though you try to be humble, we see you masterfully contribute to the more-than-one professional learning community that you belong to. We see you tell positive and powerful stories of how education can change the lives of children – when you’re in the grocery store. We see you give more than sideways hugs sometimes to heal trauma in the hallways of your campuses. We see your heart.

Thank you. Teaching is a job that often doesn’t result in immediate declarations of appreciation – so thank you. Thank you for loving the students that you serve as much as I love the personal child that I send into your classrooms. Thank you for navigating a sea of change in education and for knowing that my daughter is more than a test score, more complex than a budget line item, and that her potential for greatness surpasses the per-pupil expenditure hitched to the first 100 days of her school year. Thank you for leading our profession with your heart. Thank you for believing in our students and the exponential, positive change they will make in our communities.

Dear Experienced Teacher: You are admired, validated, and loved. Thank you for staying in the profession!


Dr. Alaina Adams

Phoenix, Arizona

My name is Alaina Adams and I am a Board Certified educator who has taught a variety of English Language Arts classes in middle school, high school, and higher education contexts for the past 12 years. I am currently working as a leader in full-time training in the Phoenix Union High School District and love the new perspective it brings for teacher leadership development in my urban, secondary setting. In addition to working in an administrative capacity, I also coach teachers on my campus, district, and across Arizona as they engage with the National Board Certification process. When not working towards total world domination, I am the mother of a teenage daughter, enjoyer of live music, and am an all-around text-messaging, Twitter-following, and Facebook-posting human being.

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Comments 7

  1. Angelia

    This is exactly what experienced teachers need to hear. So often in public its, “Wow, your a teacher…that is so hard.” or “I couldn’t be a teacher.”, but it doesn’t really express what teachers who are committed to education the long haul need to hear. Thank you for bringing to light all of the activities that you see your ROCK STARS engaging in everyday to make this profession better than it was the day before.

  2. Beth Maloney

    “We see you” is powerful to a teacher who arrives early, stays late, and trucks home mountains of grading and lesson planning every evening. Sometimes just being seen is enough to carry on. Well said.

  3. Lisa Moberg

    “Thank you for leading your profession with your heart.” In light of current national events, we need to remember the heart is the only healing force we have right now, and kids need to feel and see it in the classroom more than ever!

  4. kbuffett

    “Thank you for leading our profession with your heart. Thank you for believing in our students and the exponential, positive change they will make in our communities.”

    This is so beautifully said — thank you for this post. Teaching can sometimes be a thankless job. When I was a student myself, I did not think very often about the hard work and dedication that my teachers put in daily to enrich the lives of me and my peers. Looking back now, I realize all they did for me without expecting any acknowledgment for it.

    Teachers certainly are rock stars. I hope that all of us can work harder in the future to make teachers feel as appreciated and admired as they should be.

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