Slice of Life: Thanking the Colleague Who Taught Them Before You

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I try, as often as I can, to acknowledge the efforts that my fifth grade colleague in the grade below me does with my current students, as I often see evidence of her handiwork when they become sixth graders. I’d like to think our schools would be a better place if we did this kind of acknowledgement more often. None of us teach in a vacuum. None of our students learn in a vacuum, either. We all build upon what has happened before.

The other day, I sent my colleague (C.S.) this note (B. is our special education colleague):

Dear C. (colleague),
I am starting to look over some of the first literature-based open responses with evidence from text and they are a solid batch (with a few outliers). I am noticing a pretty strong understanding of the format, with students working to find and cite evidence, and the use of the T Chart organizer. As much as I say “we are building on what Mrs. S did with you,” they are just as likely to say “this is like what Mrs. S taught us last year.”
🙂
I am grateful for the work you do, C., as it sets the stage for sixth grade (as I hope the work I do will set the stage for seventh grade). Our earlier collaborations and discussions around open response writing (with B. as a bridge between us) is definitely making a difference.
Anyway, I wanted to let you know. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Kevin

Peace (acknowledged and appreciated),
Kevin

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10 Comments
  1. Love this, Kevin. I usually remind teachers to do this or even do it myself as a coach, and I haven’t yet this year. Thank you for the reminder–I needed it! We all stand on the shoulders of people who have done work before us!

  2. So true and so important. I wish every teacher did this – we need to stand on each other’s shoulders and honor the journey our students are on. I always tell teachers – just because they cannot articulate it perfectly does not mean it wasn’t taught — it’s in there! Thank you for writing this much-needed post.

  3. I love this! The summer before last when I shared a student’s writing at TCRWP Mary Ehrenworth said, “I hope you thanked his second grade teacher.” As luck would have it that teacher had moved into the classroom next to me and was teaching third grade with me, so I had many opportunities to thank her. Your post will remind me to make my thanks clear.

  4. This is such a great idea. Sadly, I have experienced too many who have done the opposite and blamed the previous teachers for all the percieved faults. I feel it all comes back to mindset in the end.

    Syndicated at Read Write Collect

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