Dear Teachers That Walk the Talk

Dear Teacher,

If you walk with us, we walk together, no matter the destination.

I wanted to share a few thoughts on what teaching is to me in the form of a love note. Not surprisingly, these beliefs lay across the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Five Core Propositions like a warm, fuzzy blanket. As I’ve been renewing my certification this spring, I’ve been reflecting on how enacting these propositions, on a daily basis in my practice, is both a challenge and a calling for me.


Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and their learning.

#TeachingIs Loving a child that needs to be loved. Even if he has done nothing to earn your trust.

#TeachingIs Asking a parent about a student’s sister who is sick, even if it doesn’t help a test score.

#TeachingIs Caring what your students think, but not necessarily doing what they want.

Proposition 2: Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.

#TeachingIs Deciding when and where is the best time to tell a parent about a developmental milestone or a struggle.

#TeachingIs Telling a parent “No. Your three year old can’t read independently, but they will soon, with our help.”

#TeachingIs Knowing the difference between a child asking, “What’s that word?” and “What does that word mean?”

Proposition 3: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.

#TeachingIs Seeing a gap in a student’s understanding when they can’t add numbers above 11 but they can tell their times tables to 7–and then spanning that gap with hands-on experience.

#TeachingIs Knowing when a child could tell you more about their life if they just had sophisticated language–and then teaching them.

Proposition 4: Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.

#TeachingIs Knowing that the strongest skyscrapers have the most flexible structures and applying that to classroom management.

#TeachingIs Knowing how your students will do on a test before they take it.

#TeachingIs Never doing the same lesson plan exactly the same way.

#TeachingIs Changing how you are teaching when its’ not working, even if it means starting all over.

Proposition 5: Teachers are members of learning communities.

#TeachingIs Speed-walking in a circle around the playground as you problem-solve with a colleague about how to include more writing in her daily preschool routine.

#TeachingIs Talking about teaching to family in friends in a way that honors its complexity and value.

#TeachingIs Being a member of the Center for Teaching Quality Collaboratory and knowing your voice is valued.

Add your voice to the #TeachingIs campaign on Twitter.

(Image: last month’s Preschool Project, a marble run, to teach science langauge.)

  • DeidraGammill

    A beautiful image of what #TeachingIs

    You eloquently expressed a beautiful image of what #TeachingIs and the ways in which we live out those core propositions in our daily walk with students and colleagues. You captured our whole world in all its complexity, wonder, and grittiness. Thank you for sharing and for reminding me, yet again, how lucky I am to belong to a profession as multi-faceted and diverse as #TeachingIs.

    • JohnHolland


      Thank you Diedra

  • AngelaRiggs

    This is a wonderful

    This is a wonderful description of what teaching actually is. We are in such a nuanced profession, and many of the positive and subtle characteristics of teaching go unnoticed by the public at large. I love that you’ve highlighted some of your experiences for us – your passion comes through!

  • JustinMinkel

    Love this, John.

    John, I love your list. I had a Creative Writing teacher who said, “You can only get at the universal through the specific,” and you nailed that principle in this piece and, clearly, in your teaching.

    Rebecca Mielowocki, a past National Teacher of the Year, talked about her travels to China and other countries and her growing realization there that we are one tribe as teachers. That camaraderie and unity of spirit is a source of such strength and hope. Thanks for reminding us of it.

  • SandyMerz

    Thanks, John

    This is such a great appreciation – – it could be a letter to a beginning teacher or a 28 year veteran (like me).


  • janefung

    Thanks John!

    Thanks so much John for shedding a little light one what teaching really is. So much of what teaching is cannot be measured by a test. But students, families, and colleagues know when they see it, feel it, experience it… Happy Teacher Week!

  • Ameliajo

    I have never visited this

    I have never visited this site before, I think this site always provides articles that contain many tips that are very useful for teachers. I am a teacher and the valuable information shared here helps me a lot. Excepting more and more articles like this. brake service

  • sandymaria

    Teachers are the role models

    Teachers are the role models of many students. SO they should be very friendly with the students and they should behavior in a very good manner with the students. Teachers are committed to the students and they must teach well all the subjects. garage door installation Huntington Beach