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An Open Letter to Teachers
About Our Workshops

 

September 1, 2003

Dear Colleagues,

It is said the apple doesnít fall far from the tree. My mother, Donna Peha, was an elementary and middle school Language Arts specialist for 30 years in the Seattle School District. When I told her in 1995 that I wanted to start doing workshops just like she had done, she had three important pieces of advice for me:

(1) Everything you present must be proven. My mom said virtually all workshops and classes give teachers new ideas but that many of these ideas have not been proven in the classroom. That wonít be a problem here. Everything in these workshops has been tried, tweaked, tested, and used successfully in classrooms for years, up and down the grade levels, across the curriculum, and across the country, by real teachers just like you.

(2) Itís gotta be easier for teachers and better for kids. Thereís no such thing as a teacher with extra time on her hands, my mom told me ó every educatorís life is filled with a million challenges. We have to figure out ways to make teaching easier than it is. At the same time, however, we have to be sure that what weíre doing is better for kids, too. Accomplishing one goal but not the other is unacceptable.

(3) Teaching doesnít happen in a workshop, it happens in a classroom. What my mom meant by this was that it wasnít enough for me to simply help teachers during workshops. I needed to be prepared to answer their questions after they got back to their classrooms. I needed to respond to e-mails, to send additional materials, even to go into their classrooms myself if thatís what it took to help someone be successful. So thatís what I do.

From the very first day that I set foot in a classroom as a volunteer in 1993, I have been driven by one question: ďWhatís the best way to teach?Ē Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that there is no best way all teachers should teach. There is, however, one best way for you, and thatís what I hope youíll discover in these workshops. As I like to say, ďThe best way to teach is the way that makes sense for you, your kids, and your community.Ē Thatís what these workshops are all about.

Sincerely,

Steve Peha
President, Teaching That Makes Sense

 

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