My Message

Many of you are probably aware that I was recently named Illinois Teacher of the Year. As a result of that honor, I am a nominee for National Teacher of the Year. Part of the process was a packet of paperwork that I recently submitted to "nationals" last week. Among the many questions and topics was one that asked what my message would be about our profession to fellow teachers and the general public. Below is an excerpt from my answer...

My message would be a simple one; it is all about the kids. Regardless if you are a teacher, parent, administrator, school board member or politician, every single decision you make must come down the kids in the seats. We as educators and those that have any hand in education must be held accountable to the students first and foremost. If we cannot walk up to a child and explain to them why we made the decision we did, then we shouldn’t be doing it.

Students are what this entire profession is about and we often lose our focus in the midst of budgets, meetings, trainings, politics, and indecision. Bottom line we need to be in tune to what the needs of the students are and use all of our individual and collective resources to meet those needs. This has to go beyond words but must be reinforced with actions.

I would ask parents to use all their available resources to help their child be successful at home and trust teachers to do what is best for them. In addition, I would ask parents to respectfully advocate for their child and be as involved as possible in their child’s education.

I would ask teachers to remain focused on the kids in the classroom and do whatever they can to meet the needs of each of them individually. I would also ask them to never be content and always find ways to hone their craft to be better for their students.

I would ask administrators both at the building and district levels to stay in touch and grounded in the work being done in the classroom. They need to be present in classrooms to put student’s faces and names behind the decisions they will be called upon to make.

I would ask politicians and corporate reformers to defer to the experts in education before making decisions. If decisions are being made about education, then I would ask educators to be at the table as well as those being educated.

Lastly, I would say that we are stronger and better together and need to stop competing, hiding and being afraid of the collaboration that will benefit us all and in turn benefit students.

7 comments:

Suzie Nestico said...

Josh,

Congratulations! I actually had no idea you won such a prestigious award. Amazing and most surely deserved on your part as you inspire many. Kudos to you!

Agree emphatically! Wouldn't the world of education be so much more simple if everyone just stayed focused on what truly matters... the students? Right now, they are about the only thing keeping me going. And the quick glimpses of my PLN, of course, when I'm able to come up for air.

Congrats to you!
Suzie

Debbie D said...

Congrats Josh!!

Rutter Blog said...

Well said, Josh.
The students are the most important thing. Unfortunately, this tends to get lost amid the data, politics, etc. Keep on reminding people of that fact.You are a great representative of the teachers in this state.

Love your blog, keep up the great work. I will stay tuned for sure.

Kevin Rutter
Schurz HS

Rutter Blog said...

Well said, Josh.
The students are the most important thing. Unfortunately, this tends to get lost amid the data, politics, etc. Keep on reminding people of that fact.You are a great representative of the teachers in this state.

Love your blog, keep up the great work. I will stay tuned for sure.

Kevin Rutter
Schurz HS

PeterBrady said...

I couldn't agree more, the kids are what it is all about.

As a pre-service teacher, I do have some concerns about being able to keep this at the forefront of my thoughts and actions as the pressures of politics, policies, and parents start piling up.

Any advice for a beginner on how to stay focused on what really matters - the students - while potentially facing a barrage of conflicting influences? Especially during my first few years?

I'd love to hear any tips if you've got them. Thanks for providing such a great blog, I love reading it.

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

PeterBrady,

You will more than likely be barraged with multiple influences, especially early in your career. My advice would be to act like a good poker player. Early on in the game, read the players. See who is there for the right reasons and who has what intentions. Once you have the "players" figured out, you can make your moves. However, at the end of the day, you have your class and can always do what is right for the kids.

Mr.Music said...

It's nice to win an award but I respectfully disagree with you. It is NOT all about the students. That statement is for fools in my opinion. Every teacher that I have observed that says those words works way too long to be healthy and is self depricating. IMHO the healthiest teachers are ones that balance their own health with the needs of the students. A wise person once said to me "You can't care for others unless you first have cared for yourself." The same in first aid..."You can't save someone unless first you make yourself safe." So what TRULY matters is an an entire system of support from teachers, students, parents, community and government....like Hilary Clinton's "It takes a village." When that village is out of balance, everyone should be concerned One teacher who is "putting students ahead of themselves" ignores the ship sinking around them.