Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Resignation from teaching

I Resign From Teaching

Josh Stumpenhorst wrote an amazing letter.  Made me reflect on my own classes....After reading this I have decided I am also resigning from teaching in the tradtional sense.  Maybe it is time for more of us resign from teaching.

To Whom It May Concern:

Consider this my letter of resignation from teaching. After much deliberation and intense research, I now see the futility of teaching my students. I have found that telling my students what to do does not make them learn. I discovered that when I told them what projects to do, they didn’t produce high quality work. I now see that when I give them a test they might do well but can’t talk to me about what they learned. It has also come to my attention that when I tell them something will impact their grade and they need to do it, it doesn’t motivate them. So, I am giving it all up. I am done teaching my students. I will no longer give pencil and paper tests. I refuse to tell my students what projects to do. It has become increasingly clear to me that the less I teach, the more my students are actually learning. Clearly that means I should give up teaching…although this is a painful decision for me.
Now, even though I am resigning from teaching, you will still see me in my classroom. If you look in my open door you will see me at my desk with my feet up more than likely. My students will not be quiet and certainly will not be doing the same thing. Some of them might not even be sitting in chairs and none of them will be sitting in rows. It will be chaotic and kids will be all over the place. But I ask you to take a closer look.
As I am sitting at my desk I am no longer teaching but guiding. I have carefully constructed learning questions and activities for each student. The students are working collaboratively with each other on differentiated learning activities and producing a variety of evidence. They don’t look to me to tell them how to show they are learning but choose how to learn and how best to show me they are learning. They no longer seek me for the answers but look to the array of resources I have provided for them. I am no longer the source of knowledge but merely another learner in the room. Soon I will become invisible and the students will take complete control over their learning. My life as a teacher will cease to exist and a whole new one will replace it.
Please respectfully accept my resignation from teaching. However, I will stay on board to be a guide, a provider, a supervisor, a friend and a learner.
Respectfully Submitted,
Josh Stumpenhorst

The do(s) and don’t(s) for putting your feet up in the classroom:
  • Construct meaningful work for students to be doing; boredom and disinterest leads to disengagement and behavior issues.
  • Allow students to choose how they show their learning. Don’t use a cookie cutter approach to activities or assessments.
  • Let kids work in groups to collaborate and share ideas. Two heads are better than one and four heads are really good.
  • Have a comfortable chair! :)
  • Assume kids can do this without some level of modeling and preparation.
  • Close your door and hide what you are doing. Be proud of work student’s work and share it with others even if they are not ready themselves.
  • Grade everything your students are doing. Grades do not motivate students so don’t use it as your motivator. Students will be motivated by learning if the activities are relevant, active, and collaborative.
  • Think that you can always put your feet up. There will be a time when direct instruction will be needed.
  • Think you can actually put your feet up! :)


  1. Love the idea here. But, I must respectfully disagree with one word-teacher. This sounds more like a resignation from being "professor" and or "conductor." Understand that I agree, we should not build entirely teacher-directed classrooms. I do think master teachers learn to develop this approach as "a guide, a provider, a supervisor, a friend and a (fellow) learner." It takes some time...we must coach new teachers on this concept and show them a path to get to the "comfy chair."

    Let's be careful not to make teacher a "bad word." Thoughts?

  2. Einstein said, "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn."

    Brain Camborne wrote a very nice paper on creating the conditions of learning in the literacy classroom which I believe can be transferred to other disciplines. You can find the full text here:

    I, too, have resigned from traditional teaching. I have found students too concerned with consuming information rather than constructing understanding. In fact, I did a TEDx talk on it:

    David, good luck in your new career!

  3. Great post! I did "retire" from teaching when I left a traditional high school to be a principal of an outreach school. Our students have typically disengaged from school and we offer an opportunity to finish. What your post offered for me was a way to see why our program works and even some ways we can improve. Thanks.