As I sat around the lunch table laughing with the other teachers who work on the sixth grade hallway this afternoon, I realized that I’m a pretty darn lucky guy. Not only do I work with really good people who are genuinely committed to doing right by kids, I work with people who are really good at what they do.
Some have been pushing my thinking for years. The trust that comes from sharing a thousand professional experiences leaves us ready and willing to dream with — and to challenge — one another. Our finest moments have always been the times that we accomplished something meaningful by polishing ideas together.
Others are new to our team, having joined our staff from other schools or straight outta’ college. It’s hard to see them as truly “new,” though, because they are accomplished classroom teachers whose practices and personalities have meant so much to who we are as a group. Their strengths have made us collectively stronger.
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I wanted to thank each of them today — to express my genuine appreciation for all that they have done to help me grow as a professional:
Mike Hutchinson — Thanks for being such a profound influence on my practice. Bouncing ideas off of you constantly improves who I am and what I do. More importantly, watching you give so freely of yourself to the students on our team leaves me simultaneously inspired and challenged. #youAREappreciated
Adam Love — Thanks for intellectually wrestling with me. The conversations that we have had about all things RTI have driven my thinking this year. Given that I’m convinced that tension is the source of all original learning, your willingness to push has made me better. #youAREappreciated
Chambliss Barrow: Thanks for your persistent smile and your kind heart. You are a constant reminder of all that IS good — and you are constantly reminding me that things really ARE good. The sunshine you bring to our team is one of the things that I am the most grateful for on a daily basis. #youAREappreciated
Emily Swanson and Monica Kennedy — Thanks for proving time and again that laughter is the best way to build relationships. You both bring much needed vibrancy to the work that we do together. Just thinking about the two of you right now is making me smile — and given that I’m a professional pessimist, that’s saying something! #youAREappreciated.
Tina Gallucci, Karla Mullen and Sarah Coulter — Thanks for questioning the status quo. It takes courage to speak out — and no matter how uncomfortable the challenges that you’ve brought to our shared tables have made me feel over the time we’ve worked together, our shared ideas have always ended up stronger because of your voices. #youAREappreciated
Marcy Hannula — Thanks for reminding me time and again that I have an obligation to use my voice to drive change beyond my classroom. Your confidence in what I have to say — and your insistence that I say it — means more to me than you probably realize. #youAREappreciated
Jason Dapkevich and Zach Honeycutt — Thanks for being the next generation of amazing teachers. When I think about all that you can do and all that you are so early in your careers, I stand in awe. You are so much more than teachers. You are difference-makers. #youAREappreciated
Michael Manholt — Thanks for being the mad scientist that always makes me wonder. Our conversations are almost always full of more questions than answers — about instruction, about what we are doing as a collaborative team, about the content we’re responsible for teaching to our students. The thoughts you share roll through my mind long after you’ve left the room, and that a good thing! #youAREappreciated
Kate Kotik — Thanks for showing me what quiet determination and perseverance looks like in action. Your commitment to doing whatever it takes to succeed while working with some of the toughest kids on our hallway is an inspiration. I only wish we had more time to work together! #youAREappreciated
I’m grateful, y’all — even if I don’t say it nearly enough. Thank you for being my colleagues. More importantly, thank you for being my friends.