Letters to the Editor...
In the Spirit of the Season...
I want to wish everyone at Teachers.net the
happiest of holidays. This marks the close
of my first year on the chatboard. I
discovered it the day after Christmas, 1999,
and I now have many new friends and
colleagues out there who have become a very
important part of my life. Funny, isn't it,
the way people you have never seen can
become trusted and valued friends? I wonder
how I ever managed without them.
Isolation is identified as the most critical
issue facing education. We are in a
profession that needs collegiality in order
to grow, but we do not have it. We need
professional development but we are not
given the time. We are supposed to be
lifelong learners but none of the attributes
needed for that are built into our
workplace. But, this is where Teachers.net
comes in. It can give us both the time and
the place to collaborate together. I see it
as an answer to many of the professional
obstacles we face.
I am a staff development specialist. My
vision is that through Teachers. net we can
teach each other new teaching strategies,
try them out with our students in the
classroom, then return to the chatboard to
support and assist each other as we work to
get better. Actually, we have already done
a lot of this. Many of us have tried and
succeeded in working through new class
management strategies. For those of you
that follow the management board, you know
well about our colleague, JUM, and her Andy.
We have all worked to help JUM deal with
this very damaged child. You might not hear
the cheer go up each night as JUM posts the
results of her day with Andy, but the rest
of us do! Mae of Texas and I struggled all
summer with learning the inductive model of
teaching. When I mentioned to Dr. Bruce
Joyce, author of the book "Models of
Teaching" that Mae and I were doing this, he
could not believe it. He followed the
conversation for a time. His response: "You
know, it CAN be done!" Teachers can teach
each other to teach---even in cyberspace.
Yet, with all the possibilities of Teachers.
net, it is not always serving our best
needs. Just today, I noticed several posts
commenting on the mean spiritness of some
who post here. I know that many of those
with whom I corresponded several months ago
are gone. I rarely post myself anymore. I
find it safer and more pleasant to
communicate by email. We can do that
without being bashed in a public forum.
Hey, I know I should just ignore those
bullies on the chatboard. I know it is just
a small minority of people. I know I should
not take these posts so personally. But ,
I do. I have sometimes spent over an hour
writing a post, doing a little research on
the side to make sure I had things right.
Then I post it and WHAM! there it is in
bold print in the subject line-----"Jan, who
do you think you are?" Those words are
there scrolling by everytime I go to the
board. I see others getting bashed even
more brutally. Life is too short to have
these slings and arrows hurled on a regular
basis. People, including me, say "Let's
I am not talking here about a good
intellectual discussion/argument. I love
those! I am talking about personal attacks.
I hope we can begin 2001 by having
professional conversations and discussions
that move us all ahead as teachers; that
provide the colleagueship we want and need;
that give us a place to bounce ideas; that
give us a forum for support and assistance
as teachers and as people; and that respect
the dignity of each person who posts here.
Teachers.net has the potential to give us
what is lacking in the real
world----connection to each other as
professionals. Let's take advantage of that
and make worthy contributions to each other
and to our field. If we support those who
are professional and ignore those who
aren't, post ideas with care and
thoughtfulness, and take suggestions
gracefully and without feeling the need to
be defensive, we as individuals, our
profession as a whole, and the students we
teach will all be the winners.
And, so in the spirit of the season, I hope
we can make Teachers.net a safe and
inclusive place we come to daily for
collaboration, for learning, for
inspiration, and for friendship. In the
meantime, have a fabulous vacation---you
Jan Fisher, firstname.lastname@example.org,
This month's letters:
Another post added? Suggestion., 12/29/00, by Robin.
In the Spirit of the Season..., 12/21/00, by Jan Fisher.
Iowa Teacher Quits Because of Student, 12/18/00, by eimmik.