A Single Note Can Make It All Worthwhile

There was a single note on the teacher’s desk. Turning the envelope, she slid her curious finger under the seal, anxious to read what awaited her. Just the crackle and hiss of that seal being broken blocked out the ambient sounds of anything else around. Wrestling the note from the casing, she realized she held one of “those notes.” Occasionally, over the years, she received several of those notes. Each one precious. These notes find their way into a treasure chest of memories – memories that resurface on a challenging day or a day soaked in gray rain. A student had penned a thank you – a note of gratitude and appreciation. Sustaining nourishment. Sweet nourishment.

As teachers, I believe that many of us “live for” that note from a student, or from any learner to whom we’ve contributed, that expresses the impact of a lesson or moment of learning. Yesterday, my school received such a note, and I share it here with the sender’s permission:


I’ve overcome severe jealousy to write a brief thanks to you & your school for today’s tweets.

I’m certain you have issues that drive you mad in faculty meetings, whether it’s dress code or recess or something else only tangentially relevant to Learning – but today had too many of those moments for me – and then I checked Twitter.

Watching the hashtag responses, and knowing that people I knew and respected were having the right conversations about students in the midst of preparing for the year ahead, gave me hope that such conversations would continue to blossom here, and maybe we would have a Twitter stream as a backdrop to a professional development session someday – to the betterment of our students, and maybe even to eavesdropping friends elsewhere!

Thank you again – not only for the knowledge, but for the Potential it represents for us all.

Please visit when you can – we’d love to show you what we’ve been doing since you were last here.

Warmest regards,


At this week’s end, Westminster is enjoying Faculty Forum with George Couros (@gcouros). Faculty Forum is an annual, opening-of-school set of faculty meetings for inspiring and readying the work ahead for another school year. As we transition our technology to Apple and a 1:1 framework, some may mistake that the focus is on the technology. George provided a keynote, and the school organized a number of learning spaces, which spotlight the actual focus – LEARNING and SHARING. That’s what it’s really about. [Twitter stream for Westminster Faculty Forum – #wmatl]

Didn’t we all get into teaching – if we are in it for the right reasons – because we ourselves love to learn…and because we want to share that learning with students? The mere word “students,” however, makes many think of children and teenagers. Yet we are all students if we steer our mindset to continuous learning. And we are all teachers, too, with such a mindset. In wholeness, we are learners, and we can hardly hide our passion for sharing that learning.

I am eternally grateful for Ezra’s note, and I am grateful to my school community – including @gcouros – for inspiring such a note. Ezra expresses the creative tension between vision and current reality, and he exudes that learner’s passion to close the gap by working to achieve the vision. And, he’s connected. He’s connected to a tribe of learners who want to do our best for ourselves, for our colleagues, and for our students.

We helped students today – before they even arrive at school for the year. We ourselves learned. And we shared. It is our way, and Ezra reminds us why we do it. A single note can make it all worthwhile.


  1. Inspirational! Affirms our passion for shared learning with students in mind. Thanks for posting.

    August 12, 2011
  2. Ryan said:

    “Didn’t we all get into teaching – if we are in it for the right reasons – because we ourselves love to learn…and because we want to share that learning with students?”

    I appreciate this post and the sentiment you express in this sentence, but I’m uncomfortable with you outlining the “right reasons” to become an educator. I know teachers that entered the field with the desire to enact social justice, and I wouldn’t call that a “wrong reason.”

    August 12, 2011
    • Bo Adams said:


      I agree with you, and I apologize for the way I constructed the sentence – I constructed it poorly. I did not express my thought well, and I did not intend it as you interpreted it. That is my fault, though, and not yours. Social justice is certainly a right reason. I merely meant that learning and sharing are among the reasons we are in this business – that it’s less about our comfort and convenience as teachers…and all about the students welfare and growth. As teachers, though, we are the primary school agents of that welfare and growth. Therefore, we must commit to continuous learning and sharing so that we can enact the best for students – a best that includes a deeper justice in our collective society.

      Thanks for pushing back and encouraging me to be more careful with my words, as they are the only way that people can see my thoughts.


      August 13, 2011
      • Ryan said:

        Thank you for your response. : )

        August 14, 2011
  3. Chas Miller said:

    Excellent post, Bo. Our school is learning how to use Twitter, blogging, and other forms of social networking/PLN’s this year…and your post really underscores why we need to continue on as “learners”! I’ll be reading your post to the staff during our professional workday next week. Thanks for sharing!

    August 13, 2011

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