Becoming a Person of Repute at Work


When I first began my teaching career 5 years ago, I took so much pride in being the relaxed/casual teacher that my students looked up to as an older sis or cool aunt. I wanted to be liked by the students and the other young teachers at worked. 

Over time I grew as a person and developed as a professional. Now I have let go of wanting to be liked and shifted my focus to caring about helping my students develop as musicians and people. 

In the last 3 observations (for formal evaluations) I received the highest scores on the rubric. This happened because I changed my habits. Scroll below to see what I changed about my daily routine to develop my repute. 




1. Minimalism

 I know that minimalism is trendy right now, but the ideology seriously has its benefits and I have taken away lessons I will keep with me forever.

After learning a bit about minimalism, I thought I would put it into practice starting with my work space. 

In order to clean my desk I asked myself the following questions about each item:
  • What purpose is this item serving?
  • Is there a better place for it?
  • Can I throw this away?
Items I removed from my desk:
  • Cup with pens
  • Picture frame
  • Laptop/computer
  • Treats for my students/guests
  • Projects I wanted to finish
  • Tray for "tasks" I needed to complete
  • Lesson plans
My desk became an empty work table! I only put the laptop on it when I am going to use it. 

Why it works 

  • When a teacher, administrator, parent, or student enters my classroom and I'm not there, they leave the note/instrument/pending item they wanted me to receive and they have full confidence I will see it.
  • It communicates to my colleagues, parents, and students that I am clean and organized.
  • It allows me to hold the students accountable for having a clean work space.
  • My desk is ready to host a meeting.
  • It communicates to my colleagues that I am clean.




2. E-mail

I always respond to e-mails coming from anyone who works at the school, even if the content of the message does not require me to. It does not matter who sends the e-mail. 

I read the content of the e-mail, reply with a short comment about what I read, and a "thank you."

DO NOT "reply all." Just Reply to the sender.

So many times the people sending e-mail announcements to the whole school never get a "thank you" or any sign that someone read their message. I can't tell you how many times I bump into co-workers who thank me for always responding.

Here's a reply I received last Friday:

Thank you for saying "Thank you" !
Your warm words always raise me up.

Why it works

  • Responding to e-mails acknowledges other people's work.
  • Responding to e-mails builds co-workers' trust in you.
  • Over time, responding to e-mails communicates that you are dependable.




3. Technology

Being well-versed with technology will score you major points with the students. 

Here are the ways I use technology in the classroom:
  • We use SmartBoard content 
  • I read music-related books and project the pages on a Document Camera
  • Classroom management is done through Class Dojo
  • I control Class Dojo through a laptop and iPad
  • Instruments are tuned using PANO Tunner App
  • I created a classroom website that has all the links I use in my classes. The students can visit this website when they are at home. 

Most importantly:

Instead of calling the tech staff to fix tech issues, I use my backup lesson plan and troubleshoot during my prep period. 

How to troubleshoot: use a search engine and type the following
  • the problem you are having
  • the device this is occurring to
  • model numbers or brand name 
Example:

I go to Google and type "ActiveInspire smart board speaker button red instead of green" in the search box. 

Why it works

  • The students are much more engaged when they see the content presented to them through various media platforms. 
  • It communicates that I am competent in more areas than the subject I teach.
  • It impresses my colleagues when I present on platforms other than PowerPoint or Prezi.
  • When I call the tech staff, they know take my technological concerns a little more seriously. They know that I've attempted to troubleshoot on my own.
Remember, our students were born in the digital age. Chance are that they learned their alphabet and numbers from a screen. Technology is natural to them and engages them. We must prepare them for the world they will inherit and that world will most likely include technology!




4. Cleanliness

Clean your classroom like it's going to be the first day of school. 
It will not only change how happy you will be to work in it, it will change your students' attitude about coming to class.

Now I have made it my duty to have the classroom like that every day and some amazing things have happened.

  • Students clean up without me asking because they can tell when something looks out of place. By contrast, when everything looks out of place, they don't really care to put things away. 
  • Students come in with a different mindset. There is space for them to think clearly, explore, and spread out.
  • I feel so relieved when I enter a clean and organized classroom. I relate this to when I go to my bedroom and the bed has been made.
  • I don't have to apologize for a mess if I get unexpected guests.
  • I am more confident and always ready for an observation if I get visitors.

Why it works

  • Supervisors are proud to show off the music room anytime visitors come. 
  • Sometimes co-workers will stop by and play with the instruments just to take a break from their day.
  • Parents smile when they enter the room for the first time. If the parent is smiling on our first meeting, it is much easier to build rapport with them.
  • Parents talk to other parents about my professionalism and the look of their child's music classroom.
  • It gives everyone the impression that I am clean and organized in all aspects of my life.
  • The classroom sends a welcoming vibe to all who enter.




5. Attire


I didn't change my attire until year 4 of my teaching because I didn't really have the finances to fund a entirely new professional wardrobe. I went to the local recycle store (kind of like a Goodwill) and spent $100. I also told friends and family about my new goal and 

Now I wear dresses, slacks, long skirts, and button-up blouses. 

I do wear jeans on Friday, but I make sure they are clean, neat, and dark. I pair the jeans with a dressy shirt just to make sure I still look polished. 


Why it works

  • This movement was contagious... I noticed more and more of my coworkers dressing more professionally as weeks passed.
  • I can hold the students accountable for the look of their uniform and general grooming. 
  • The students see that I take my profession seriously.  




Side effects

  • Improved evaluations from supervisors
  • Coworkers have been asked to dress up for special school events, but I have not been asked because I dress well every day.
  • I was asked to mentor new teachers even though I am the second youngest teacher at the school
  • Every budget proposal I have presented has been approved.
  • I have appeared in catalogs, videos, and other marketing for the school. 



Stay tuned for the updated version in a year or two!







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