Be the change, being a teacher, being me, new year, reflection, Uncategorized

Stop Labeling Different – It’s Time to Stop Teacher Bullying

image from icanread

I took a deep breath before I hit “publish” on my post “When Teachers Bully Teachers.”  I had decided that it was time to stand publicly behind the story, to claim my words, to face my fears, and yet with my fingers hovering over the button,  I couldn’t help but be afraid.  Afraid that nasty comments would follow, afraid that people would shun me, afraid that it would start all over again.

Within minutes the comments started coming.  At first, I opened each one with trepidation; would this be the comment that told me I was full of it?  That I had done it to myself?  That surely I deserved the treatment I had gotten?  Instead, it was story upon story of teachers sharing their experience, of teachers saying it had happened to them.  Then my inbox started filling up with private reach outs, then Facebook.  As I closed my computer that morning, I looked at Brandon and said, “There are so many of us and I thought it was just me.”

Teachers bullying teachers is real.  Principals bullying teachers is real.  Within our communities, where we try to teach children how to act as adults, there are many adults not living the words they teach.  Some are doing it on purpose like in my situation, others may not know the damage they are doing.  But it needs to end.  For me, hitting publish was the first step, but now I see that there is so much more must be done.

If you are being bullied:

  • Know you are not alone, unfortunately.  Look at my post and all of the comments it got. This is important, you are not alone, you are not the worst teacher in the world, you are not a horrible person, you do not deserve this.
  • Stop labeling yourself.  I was so good at coming up with excuses for why this was happening to me that I only made it worse.  I kept thinking how I was doing this to myself and it was all my own fault.  No one deserves to be treated poorly, not even someone who does things a little bit different or has a strong opinion.
  • Share your story and speak up.  Even if you are not ready to confront your bully, share your story with someone; an administrator, a colleague, the whole world like I did.  Reclaim your story to stop the process.
  • Then stand up for yourself or find a way out.  There are two ways to fix the situation because suffering through it is not one.  One is to confront your bully and try to put an end to the situation, however, when I tried to do this it didn’t do much.  SO then know it is okay to leave, to find another job, a better situation.  You are not a coward, nor are your running away.  You are saving your soul and that is important.
  • Make peace with yourself.  I still worry about what I did but it is time to let it go.  With each moment this summer I am allowing myself to put the past in the past.  We have to forgive ourselves and allow ourselves to heal.

To stop bullying at your school:

  • Be welcoming.  So much can be said for reaching out to new staff.  A friendly hello and introduction can go a long way, but don’t just do it in the beginning of the year, keep checking in.  Keep reaching out and making sure every person in the building feels they have someone to speak to.
  • Reach out to everyone.  Sure, my bullying started my first year, but there are others that have said it started later.  So make it your mission to make new connections every year, even with current staff, you never know who might be feeling lonely.
  • Be a nice person.  I know many of us assume we always are, but this is something we should all focus on.  Be nice, be kind, be open, be inviting.  Don’t put others down just because you disagree with them.
  • Don’t believe the talk.  I know many teachers at my old school were swayed by powerful words about me.  Instead, dismiss the talk completely or seek out the person who is being talked about to hear their story.  One teacher did that with me and it made a huge difference in how I saw her and our relationship.
  • Stop labeling different.  Too often the people we ostracize are those doing things differently.  Don’t be afraid of change, or at the very least, ask questions!  If someone has made a change in how they teach there is probably a reason for it, so ask them why, dig around a little bit, be open to new ideas.
  • Recognize your own behavior.  Too often we don’t see what we do as malicious or even bullying, but we need to be honest here.  How often have we slandered?  How often have we snickered?  How often have we excluded?  Take stock of yourself and see how you need to change.
  • Follow your own classroom rules.  We had one rule in our room, “Represent.” Whatever your rules are, make sure that you are following them too.  If the kids can do it, so can we.

We must say, “No more!” and share our stories.  Don’t be afraid like I was, don’t suffer in silence.  As a close colleague of mine told me when she read it, “I guess I knew you struggled, but I just never knew how severe it was.”  And that was my mistake.  I should have gone to administration with the union, or I should have gone higher up.  I should have stood up, but in the moment it was too hard, too scary, and so I kept my head down and suffered through it.  I will never make that mistake again.  Please help me stop the bullying.

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Be the change, being me, new year, Uncategorized

What’s Your Change this Summer?

image from icanread

One of my most favorite things about summer is that time to finally change something.  While I change a lot throughout the year, summer is like my new year.  The time where I have the energy to really think through practices, to get re-energized, to change something, big or small.  Because that’s the thing with change, it doesn’t have to be monumental to matter.  It can be just taking one step in a new direction, implementing one new idea, thinking one new thought.  And while I tend to binge change, I thought it only appropriate to share some ideas that may help you change.

How about reaching out for global collaboration?

There are so many ways to get connected and to have your students get connected these days, even with the strictest of district policies and the smallest amount of tech, there are so many ways.  The Global Read Aloud, a project I created in 2010, sets out to make it easy for you.  You read aloud the same book as teachers around the world at the same time and then make a connection with others reading it.  More than 150,000 students are signed up for this year so far.  Others ideas for connection is through blogging, Twitter, Skype, Projects by Jen, The Traveling Rhino, or making your own project.

How about reading a great book?

There is nothing quite like sitting down with a really well-written education book to inspire your own journey.  “The Book Whisperer” by Donalyn Miller did that for me a few years back, as well as “Awakened” by Angela Watson (a book study is about to begin on this great book!).    This year I am excited to finally take the time to read her second book “Reading in the Wild” and cannot wait to get inspired again.  Also, on my to read list is “This is Not a Test” by Jose Vilson, “Falling in Love with Close Reading” by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, and “Encouragement in the Classroom: How Do I Help Students Stay Positive and Focused” by Joan Young.  Finally, you can even read my book if you would like, it has been getting great reviews, “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students.”

How about a challenge?

It is not too late to get involved with some of the many challenges floating around the internet this summer.  One of my favorites, and not just because the educator who is behind it all, Todd Nesloney, is a pretty awesome guy, but because it is so broad, is the Summer Learning Series.  While the challenge is on it’s 4th week this week, it is not too late to get caught up.  I have been doing some of the challenges mentioned and have been loving how I am getting connected.

How about learning a new tool?

This has been the summer of Voxer for me.  This great little walkie talkie app has brought me even closer to some of the people I connect with and introduced me to so many new people.  There is definitely something special about hearing people’s voices along with their ideas.  Connect with me if you want, my user name is pripp5439.  But that doesn’t have to be the tool you use, pick one, and make it your own.

How about learning a new skill that has nothing to do with education but then still does?  

I will be starting Yoga in two week and I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally realize this dream.  I just haven’t found the time before, but now I am making the time.  So what have you been stalling on that you know will help you have a better life?  Now is the time to start.

How about teaching someone something?

On July 24th, I get to lead a session on global collaboration through blogging here in Wisconsin, a subject near and dear to me, but it doesn’t have to be professional teaching to count.  I am also teaching my 21 month old twins, Ida and Oskar,  to go to the potty and Thea, my 5 year old, to ride a bike with no training wheels.  There is always an opportunity to help others.

How about becoming a passionate reader?

There is nothing better than a great book you cannot wait to share with others.  Some recent favorites of mine include:

  • The entire Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  • The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya by Jane Kelley
  • Noggin by John Corey Whalen
  • Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

How about meeting someone new?

Whether you are at one of the many conferences this summer, moving to a new school like, or moving to a new city (also like me), what are you doing to meet new people?  I have been blessed with the opportunity to create a great new team and I cannot wait to get to know them.

How about whatever you feel like?  What is it you really want to take time to do?  Every step we take matters, why not take it in the direction of change?

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.


And the Winners Are…

Thank you so much to every one who entered for a chance to win a copy of my book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students.”  I was overwhelmed with all of the words and excitement about reading the book, I wish I could have given all of you a copy.  If you did not win, please consider purchasing a copy right here.  Or if you would prefer a print version, please make sure to fill out this form, as my publisher is gauging interest.

Without further ado, the two winning comments are (randomly picked):

Derek Hatcherelli with this comment:  “I’ve heard great things about your book. Bill Ferriter, who is a hero of mine, just wrote a excellent blog post about it. I would love to read it!



Lori Semans with this comment:

Lori Semans says:

“I am so excited to find out about your book and blog. I am a 20 year veteran who is embarking on a journey next year to empower my students even more through Project Based Learning. I teach an inclusion classroom and will be looping up with them. We have started small this year and the kids and I are both so thrilled that our administration is giving us the opportunity to give the classroom back to the kids. I have seen tremendous advantages for my children at all levels. I have been telling everyone who will listen to follow your blog and to pick up your book. Your ideas support my belief that “Kids will not care what you know, until they Know that you care”. It is refreshing to read about others who share the same ideas. I couldn’t help smiling when I saw your post this morning of your classroom “mess” while the kids were learning. Mine looks the same right now and even my OCD tendencies for cleanliness can not overcome the excitement I feel when I see the kids so passionate about what they are learning and creating. We are turning our classroom into a “Museum of Change” next week for our fellow students and parents to observe all that we have learned throughout our journey this last month. Having an authentic audience is so rewarding for them. Thanks for all that you do to share your passion with others. I would love to read your book this summer.”


Thank you so much everyone!

being me, reflection, Student-centered, students, Uncategorized

How Blogging Has Enhanced My Parent Connection

I didn’t think parents of my students would ever read my blog.  Why would they?  And yet, now that I have been blogging for four years I am often amazed at how often the parents of my students actually read what I write.  Not just on our classroom blog, but also on this blog; my personal one.  While there are many small benefits to this, it has also brought on a sense of responsibility to them.  I blog about my thoughts on their children, it is their children who inspire me, it is their children that urge me to change, reflect, and grow.  That heightened responsibility of how I represent our classroom and myself is only one of the things that has urged me to continue blogging and sharing.  With each of the blogs, there have been many other benefits.

Benefits of a Classroom Blog:

  • Parents know what is going on.  This is huge!  I update regularly with what we are doing, showcasing work through text, photos or video.  it gives parents (and the world) a direct view into our classroom.
  • Parents know where to find information.  Having a child in school can mean a lot of different papers coming home.  Now I post everything on our blog for easy reference (even for myself) so it is easy to find.
  • Parents know what is coming up.  I have a calendar embedded on the side of our blog, this is always updated with deadlines, event information, and if I am out of the room.  All parents need to do is look at our calendar to see what is happening.
  • Parents can easily ask questions.  No longer reliant on a sometimes vague recollection of what actually happened through a tired child, they can see what is happening and then ask about it.  Thea, my 5 year old, sometimes has a hazy memory of what she did at school so I love that I know what is happening in her classroom to help me facilitate a conversation.
  • Parents know us as a community.  Because I get to highlight all of the amazing things we do, parents get a feel for what type of classroom we are.  They don’t have to trust me, they can draw their own conclusion.
  • Parents can comment.  I love when our parents, or others, comment on our classroom website.  It makes us excited to see that people are paying attention to the wonderful things happening.
  • New parents know what we are about before their children become part of our class.  When they google me, my classroom website comes up, what greater peace of mind to a nervous new student(and parents)  than seeing some cool things that are happening in the classroom?
  • Finally, it becomes one more portal for my students to connect with the world.  My students use our blog to post surveys, show off their learning, and connect with others.

Benefit of a Professional Blog:

  • Parents know my values.  I try to stay nuanced but this blog is my platform for trying to abolish grades, homework, and punishment in the classroom.  Parents can read my thoughts behind it and know that they can always start  a conversation about it as well.  They don’t have to ask my educational philosophy, it is all right here.
  • Parents know me personally.  I blog very personal stories, such as the premature birth of our daughter or the passing of my grandfather.  I put it all out there because it affects the way  I teach, parents get to know me in more personal manner than just being a classroom teacher would allow me too.
  • Parents feel respected (I hope!).  I blog extensively on the importance of bringing parents into the decision making process, as well as listening to them as experts.  I hope this gives parents the courage (sometimes) needed to broach even difficult subjects with me.
  • Parents see how I represent their children.  I try my hardest to represent my students in the most meaningful and real way as possible.  When I mess up, I blog about it.  When we fail as a class, I blog about it.  When we have incredible moments, I blog about it.  Parents don’t have to wonder how I feel about their kids or my job, I write about it extensively.

I didn’t set out to blog to create deeper connections, but it happened.  When we let parents, and the world in, we show we are unafraid of showing what is happening in our worlds.  We show that the time we spend teaching and the time we spend learning is worthwhile.  We show the world that what we think and do matters.  We give a voice to our students, but also to ourselves.  but most importantly, we let parents know that what they think matters too.

I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” can be pre-bought now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.