Dear New Teachers, An Open Letter on Behalf of Our Families

Welcome to Springville-Griffith Institute CSD! We have high hopes for you as you begin your first year with us. Here’s what our families and I most hope for from every SGI teacher.

  1. Love and respect our children. Show them that you love and respect them. You’ll get what you give here.
  2. Expect the best of every child. Give your best. Every day.
  3. If you do #1 and #2, you will build relationships with students and their families. The relationships that I built with students in the decade I taught at Pine Valley from 1990-2000 are some of the most important in my life today. It’s true that children may not remember what you teach them but they’ll always remember how you treated them. My success with students rested on one thing and one thing only–I wasn’t afraid to show them that I loved them and expected the best of them. Every day.
  4. Teaching isn’t about standing in the front of the room and being the “expert” any longer. Maybe it never was. It’s about nurturing and challenging and supporting and guiding the students in your care every day. It’s about engaging, interesting and difficult lessons–lessons that lead to wanting to learn more and elicit questions from students. Student questions that you take the time to stop and explore. 
  5. Show up every day. Our substitutes are good but they’re not YOU. Our students need YOU. Your days aren’t a magical gift or something you’re entitled to use–they’re there for when you NEED them because you’re actually really sick or you have personal business that’s important and unable to be attended to outside of the school day.

Here’s what we most hope you won’t be at SGI.

  1. A narcissist. Don’t make every day all about YOU. It’s not about what you most love or what you did on the weekend or what you’re into outside of school. It’s okay to share pieces of yourself, but make the time students are with you about them. Learn what your students are interested in and make connections between their passions and those things you need for them to learn.
  2. A teacher who tightly controls every minute of the school day or class period. Giving students a voice and choice isn’t about playing dodge ball all day because the kids like to play dodgeball. Paying attention to student interests, giving students a voice in the classroom–that’s about making connections so that your students gain MORE from your lessons. 
  3. A screamer. There is NEVER a time when berating, belittling, insulting or using profanity with students is effective or acceptable. NEVER. Get out of the profession if that’s who you are.
  4. Apathetic. Or lazy. Don’t be the guy who hands out problems or worksheets and then sits at your desk doing something else every day. Don’t be the teacher who tells students “figure it out on your own, we’re supposed to challenge you”. Harder worksheets are the NOT the challenge- choice– problem solving– or collaboration that our students are looking for in our schools. 
  5. Isolated. We need each other. I’m still learning in this, my 29th year in public education. Take classes, read books, collaborate with your colleagues. Take risks. Ask questions. Try out lessons that might fail. Listen to your students. We don’t expect you to know everything. The people who think they know everything are the dumbest people I know.

This is the most rewarding profession in existence when you do it right. It’s all up to you. And the beauty of two months off in the summer? Every September you get to make a fresh start and be THE TEACHER who rocks it, rather than THAT TEACHER who no one ever wants to have. Last, watch this video we made in which our students—even the youngest one–tell us what they love and what they never want again in school. Our students have value, they are bright and articulate and they enter full of wonder and curiosity that we must nurture and expand. Be that teacher for your students this year. We’re counting on you.

With much love and hope,

All of our SGI Families and Kimberly Moritz, Superintendent

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  1. What a inspiring post AND great video! So glad you are continuing to do great work for the students of our region!!

  2. The first advice I always give new teachers is “Love your students, love them as if they were your own children.” For when you do this not only will they give their best in return, but you will have few discipline problems, and teaching becomes a joy.

  3. Excellent Kim. Your wonderful philosophy is why you are so very successful. Parents and students are truly Blessed to have you in their educational experiences Best Wishes to you.

  4. This is excellent advice for all employees of our district. All school district employees are educators to some degree. Each one of us makes a difference to a student’s educational experience. Thank you for your inspirational words.

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