Be the change, being a teacher, being me


Can I just discuss priorities for a moment?

I find myself at a point in time where it apparently bears repeating that some of our priorities in education seem a little misplaced.  After all, I don’t know how many more discussions I can bear witness to that centers around which expensive curriculum to purchase when our librarians are being forced out of their jobs.  How many more giveaway prizes are needed rather than actual books?  How many more paras we need to help the students, rather than certified staff?

If our priority is to create education that actually works for all kids and not just the ones who are easy to teach, then we need to discuss what our priorities should be.

Our priority should not be how to punish the kids that misbehave but rather how we help them remain in our classrooms instead.

Our priority should not be for how we can force kids into our rigid systems but instead how we can make our systems more flexible.

Our priority should not be how many skills a program will teach if we don’t have the foundational knowledge to understand why these skills are needed.

So can we instead decide that it only makes perfect sense to…

Invest in certified staff, particularly in areas that have the biggest impact such as special education, the arts or the library.

Invest in books before basals.  Books before programs.  Books before computer programs that teach basic reading skills.

Invest in raising student’s voice, rather than finding ways to quash it.

Invest in mental health services, in counseling, in smaller class sizes so we can truly connect with all of the students we teach rather than in more security and locks.

Invest in the staff we have, in order to retain an experienced staff, rather than always focusing on how to recruit the new?

Invest in community.

Invest in access for all kids.

Invest in hugs.

In smiles.

In high expectations for all.

In challenging all.

In equity and in hard conversations that uncover our own areas of weakness.

In the basic components of education that may not garner news headlines but that we know works, respect, credibility, training, reflection, and yes, love.

Can we please make it an expectation that if you teach kids you have to actually like kids.  After all, it doesn’t feel like too much to ask.

Perhaps if we straightened out our priorities and went back to common sense, we wouldn’t be having so many of the same conversations again and again.


If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.


7 thoughts on “Priorities”

  1. Pernille,

    Just like so many of your posts, you nail it. I’m so lucky to be in a school right now that is focused on those priorities. We are guided by what is best for the student, not just academically, but socially and emotionally. My Head of School said this yesterday, “We want our students to see as allies, not adversaries.” It was such a perfect to describe the educational process at our school.

    Keeping be a strong advocate for what we need in education.


  2. Thank you so much for this post, Pernille. Sometimes I feel like a lone-wolf in my school district. It was nice to hear somebody else vent about these same issues I worry about. In the last few years, we have decreased our literacy specialists to half of what we used to have. Instead, we have purchased a new core reading program that is going to magically decrease the number of students who need reading support and added two more teacher assistants to act as reading teachers. It makes me feel very frustrated and defeated.

  3. I love, love, love this! I’m a library coordinator, K-6. I’m not certified but I am certifiable, especially when it comes to kids, books & reading! No pun intended… thank you for your precious words.

  4. Yes, yes, and yes! I agree wholeheartedly! I can’t imagine a world without books and why people want to get rid of them. And even some libraries are starting to buy into it. It’s maddening. What can we do?!

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