Food for Thought

If You Don't Feed the Students, They'll Eat the Teachers!As the first month of a new school year comes to a close, I offer some food for thought about nour­ish­ing our teach­ers. Lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly. Years ago when I was work­ing on my administrator’s license I dis­cov­ered a gem of a book called If You Don’t Feed the Teach­ers, They Eat the Stu­dents! Guide to Suc­cess for Admin­is­tra­tors and Teach­ers by Neila Con­nors. In a nut­shell, this play­ful tome sug­gests that serv­ing teach­ers with a steady diet of appre­ci­a­tion, encour­age­ment, and acknowl­edge­ment is a recipe for suc­cess in any school com­mu­ni­ty. Sim­ply put, teach­ers have a lot on their plates which explains why they are hun­gry for support.

It isn’t always an easy-as-pie endeav­or. How­ev­er, one of my goals as an instruc­tion­al coach is to make sure my hard-work­ing and ded­i­cat­ed col­leagues know how much their effort and com­mit­ment to kids, learn­ing, and teach­ing are val­ued.  I also strive to help teach­ers grow pro­fes­sion­al­ly. I believe the recipe for suc­cess includes two essen­tial ingre­di­ents; first, you must reach the heart before you can reach the head and sec­ond, one way to the heart is through the stomach.

As I vis­it­ed class­rooms dur­ing the open­ing weeks of the new school year to deliv­er some tasty lit­tle treats, I was for­tu­nate to be able to feed some hearts and minds with book sug­ges­tions. Teach­ers were eager to fill their pantries with excep­tion­al read aloud books that would con­tribute to cre­at­ing pos­i­tive class­room com­mu­ni­ties. They were also search­ing for pro­fes­sion­al books that might make the dif­fer­ence between engaged and dis­en­gaged learners.

In addi­tion to shar­ing some sweet treat ideas, here are a few titles to digest!

Rolo pencilWeek One Menu:

Week Two Menu:

  • Lunch on me, “ham­burg­ers” made from Nil­la wafers and choco­late mint cook­ies (with let­tuce, ketchup and mus­tard frosting)
  • Read-aloud rec­om­men­da­tion: The Prince Who Wrote a Let­ter by Ann Love, a per­fect pick for teach­ing “Again and Again” and “Aha Moments,” sign­posts (from Notice and Note
  • Pro­fes­sion­al book sug­ges­tion: Notice and Note, Strate­gies for Close Read­ing by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst

Bacon & EggsWeek Three Menu:

  • Bacon and egg for Break­fast, aka pret­zels, white choco­late and yel­low M&M
  • Read-aloud rec­om­men­da­tion: Iggy Peck, Archi­tect by Andrea Beaty, offers a ter­rif­ic math tie-in
  • Pro­fes­sion­al book sug­ges­tion: Math Work­shop in Action by Nik­ki Newton


And to cap off this month of thought-pro­vok­ing and appre­cia­tive food:

ABC cookiesWeek Four Menu:

  • ABC cut out cookies 
  • Read-aloud rec­om­men­da­tion: Excla­ma­tion Mark by Amy Krouse Rosen­thal and Tom Licht­en­held, a delight­ful sto­ry about the impor­tance of indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and punctuation.
  • Pro­fes­sion­al book sug­ges­tion: Of Pri­ma­ry Impor­tance by Anne Marie Corgill

 My hope is that this month’s arti­cle will pro­vide you with a buf­fet of ideas when it comes to feed­ing your teach­ing and lit­er­a­cy soul so you can walk away feel­ing satiated. 

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David LaRochelle
David LaRochelle
6 years ago

What an excel­lent arti­cle, Mau­r­na! I like your spe­cif­ic ideas about how to show appre­ci­a­tion to teach­ers. And I encour­age any par­ents read­ing your arti­cle to make a point of let­ting your child’s teacher know that he/she is appre­ci­at­ed. Years ago when I was a teacher, par­ents often sent me a thought­ful note of thanks at the end of the year, or maybe at the win­ter hol­i­days, but oh, I would have soooo appre­ci­at­ed the encour­age­ment and recog­ni­tion at oth­er times , espe­cial­ly ear­ly in the year when a teacher strug­gles to set the cli­mate for learning.