My Teaching Manifesto


I will provide a variety of quality works for my students.

I will teach skills that will help students become better readers rather than teaching a text.

I will be an active reader and share personal reading with my students.

I will learn alongside my students.

I will embrace the ambiguity of multiple interpretations of a text instead of one “right answer.”

I will offer reading at times during class just to enjoy the beauty of words and passages without analyzing the text.

I will provide EPIC (experiential, purposeful, imaginative, and collaborative) lessons. 

I will allow students to have choice in their reading.


I will teach writing not just assign writing.

I will give quality feedback on content, style, and craft.

I will confer with students about their writing.

I will be involved in the process of student writing.

I will allow students to experiment with personal style in order to find their unique voice. 

I will encourage students to take risks in writing.

I will be an active writer and share my writing with students.

I will provide a variety of mentor texts for students to study. 

I will embrace the messiness of learning to write.


I will get to know my students and allow them to know me.

I will be intentional about building community in my classroom.

I will advocate for my students.

I will write reference letters, review college essays, and offer guidance in the college admission process. 

I will go to games, plays, concerts, hospitals, baptisms, graduations, funerals, and other events that communicate value and worth to students.

I will enjoy my students.

I will speak words of encouragement and life to students.

I will brew coffee for my students.


I will have a life outside of work.

I will be a positive voice in education.

I will be solution-oriented rather than problem focused.

I will lead how I prefer to be led.

I will strive to bring my best daily but accept my limitations.


To these things will I be true in 2017.

Happy New Year!


Susan Barber is a high school English teacher and department chair at Northgate High School in Georgia. In addition to reading, writing, and investing in the next generation, she loves watching college football especially when Alabama is playing. 



4 thoughts on “My Teaching Manifesto

  1. Excellent suggestions. I particularly like the ones about your being an active reader and sharing your reading voice with students AND your sharing your writing with students. I think both of those are vital.

    I would also suggest reading COLD for students aloud, with your telling them what you are thinking as you go along. As there are tone shifts, etc. you’ll say aloud how your thinking of the passage is changing. They don’t know how to read well and can benefit from hearing how the thinking about reading process works. It only works, though, if you are reading something for the first time, as they will be.

    Happy New Year and thanks for sharing.

    • YES to cold readings with students! I do this on occasion and love to explore texts for the first time with students. Sadly, many teachers I have spoken to are fearful of doing this because they many not know answers to questions that students may raise about the text, but this is about the process – not the answer.

      Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

  2. I agree about cold reading! In my curriculum, we read new stories and poetry so that kids can work with me as we model how readers make sense of stories and poetry they have never seen. This breaks us out of the “sage on the stage” mode and lets students explore literature with a teacher who does not yet have the answers but can show them the types of questions and techniques that a careful reader employs to make sense of a work. I am now a semi-retired “Grandpa” teacher, and for me, the relationships with students have been even better now that I do not see their success as a reflection on me.

    • I agree that kids need to hear how good readers think as they read, and the only way for a teacher to really do that is find a passage, poem, essay that she has never seen before. I realize and Susan mentioned that teachers are afraid to do this, which I personally don’t understand, but it is SO helpful to kids to hear that first time at bat interpretation, how it changes as one reads, etc. How else will they know what the process is unless it’s modeled?

      Tim, you know that I’m semi-retired too, but I am still coaching two teachers and going into their classes and teaching, so I get to show them how it is done by doing it with kids. I believe that if more teachers did this, we’d have better student readers.

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