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My dad, whose life was sadly cut short because of COVID in January of 2021, raised me with an appreciation for hard work, a job well done, and the importance of staying humble. He ingrained in me that it was rarely a good idea to brag about success and accomplishments because when you do a good job, people will notice, and that should be enough.  

To compound my dad’s influence, my mother raised me to feel that everything I did was somehow never enough or up to par. From cooking spaghetti to how I dressed, I perpetually fell short of her expectations in my constant efforts to make her proud.

So, between my dad’s emphasis on humility and my mom’s weighty expectations, challenging myself to get out there on social media or a blog is my newest brave step in this crazy journey called professional growth. In my head, I hear things like, “What could I possibly share that teachers might find meaningful and useful?” or “Don’t post that? It will sound braggy!” While the pandemic has amplified my self-doubts, I’ve decided to ignore those voices and press on to share what I hope will be helpful to you in your classroom. So, will you join me? Let’s be brave together!

Teaching is now more challenging than ever. Over the last few years, we’ve struggled to keep our heads above water while the administration’s expectations grew more unrealistic with each passing month. We have been expected to pivot on a dime with a smile on our face while engaging all learners. We needed to grade papers quickly for anxious parents while keeping the lines of communication between home and school perpetually open and friendly. We have more duties than ever before and often left work feeling undervalued and empty. Many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep and have more to worry about in our personal lives than ever before. Teachers are spread thin, and many have thought about quitting, present company included. HOW can we turn things around?  

So let’s go! Let’s fly above the storm clouds! With this post, I’d like to share how surprisingly enjoyable the 2021-2022 school year was when I put building community at the center of everything I did. 

Would you like to hear how amazingly well my classes went during one of the most challenging chapters in my 35-year-long career? With courage and a willingness to step out of my comfort zone, I am facing my fears of posting to my blog and social media. I will be sharing several nuggets of success that grew out of an experiment I did during the first six weeks of school when I made building community in each of my classes my number one priority. 

So with my dad’s spirit in my heart and the encouragement of a few dear friends, here goes nothing…

Donna Tatum-Johns

My passion is twofold: training teachers using comprehensible-input methods and strategies as well as teaching French using these same techniques. CI helps language classes come alive and allows students to enjoy acquiring a second language more naturally.

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