Tips from Jim Lehrer

I’ve been reading a lot about the journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and debate moderator Jim Lehrer since his death last week.  To say this man led a big, impressive, and meaningful life seems to be an understatement. I mean how in the world do you have a schedule like Mr. Lehrer’s and turn out a novel every year?  I can barely get out my weekly blog post!

According to Lehrer’s peers and colleagues, he was a man of high professional standards (harder and harder to find in the world of journalism these days).  These standards include the following:

Do nothing I cannot defend.

Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.

Assume the viewer is as smart and caring and good a person as I am.

There are more, but I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how these three standards might apply to my life and work as a Literacy Coach.

Do nothing I cannot defend:  My work has to be grounded in research and be solidly focused on the child/children I am working with. My work with children, teachers, faculty, and families must be ethical, moral, and kind.

Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story:  It is important for me to listen well to adults and children to try to understand all sides of a conversation.  This will help me to determine strengths and needs, which will help me focus teaching and learning. Although I do have strong beliefs about what literacy approach works best for children, it’s important for me to be open to the hearing about other stories and approaches (There are a lot of different opinions swirling around at there at the moment.)

Assume the viewer is as smart and caring and good a person as I am: I’m lucky to work with smart, caring, and good people.  I have studied literacy for many years, but I am a learner, not an expert, and I like it that way.

I wish I had spent more time listening to Jim Lehrer’s reporting.  I can see that he has a lot to teach me.



2 thoughts on “Tips from Jim Lehrer”

  1. Those are three great tenets, for sure. It’s easy to forget all the other stories and pressures that swirl around the tables with us and teachers. It’s so important to consider them, though. Thanks for this post.

  2. My husband and I were saddened by Mr. Lehrer’s death. We occasionally watched him on the PBS Newshour and were surprised how old he’d become at the time of his death (that means we are older, too). I’ll have to read more about him. Your post has inspired me to do just that. I like how you took some of his standards or tenets and applied them to yourself. I, also, view myself always as a learner, no matter my professional role or position. We have that in common.

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