#D100bloggerPD Crew's Book Study on Hacking Education- Hack 6: Marigold Committees

Welcome back for another #D100bloggerPD Crew book study!  If you haven't already been introduced to us, the crew consists of an assortment of Berwyn South School District teacher learners (as well as a few administrators) who enjoy blogging, are smitten with social media and make use of our PLNs as an irreplaceable source of powerful content, hence the hashtag #D100bloggerPD.  We love to stay connected. The crew embraces change, strives to better ourselves professionally and desires to join forces with others to share what we learn because... Together we are better! Joining forces brings on the positive energy.  Don't you agree? Provided you do agree, learn with us, then pay it forward. Remember, generosity is the key to success.
To read the hacks already discussed in the #D100bloggerPD book study, click HERE, or head on over to Kristin's blog, Reading and Owl of the Above, for the kickoff post.  Supposing you didn't know, she is one of my favorite Reading Specialists in the district and has become a good friend.  Let's get started! 
If you haven't already read Hacking Education, I recommend you do. It is truly an invaluable book.  Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez provide practical and user-friendly ideas and tools for each hack that can be implemented in your school straightaway. This is post is dedicated to Hack 6: Marigold Committees~ Nurture New Teachers With a Circle of Mentors.

After happily serving as a Cooperating Teacher for nine student teachers over the years, I jumped at the chance to take part in my district's mentoring program when it was first implemented.  I delight in celebrating the successes and supporting the challenges new teachers in the district face as educators.  I've been a mentor for more than a handful of years now and absolutely love it.  The right set of circumstances has allowed me to meet an abundance of amazingly talented mentee-teachers, some first-year and others experienced, within my school and throughout my school district. One of the #D100bloggerPD crew members, Angela Gonzales from Miss G Does 5th, is just one of those remarkably accomplished first-year teachers I've had the honor to mentor. ;)

Even though I'm an assigned mentor to a specific group of new teachers each year, I tend to take others under my proverbial wing (you know who you are!).  The Marigold Committee is exactly that, which is one reason I wanted to discuss this hack for the book study. The committee is about lifting up and supporting new teachers.  At the start of this section in the book, there is a quote: If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else.  
It's similar to A rising tide lifts all boats, which is another favorite of mine.  These quotes are all about giving back to those around you: colleagues, the community, family members and so on. Sharing your successes with others, so they may learn and grow as well, is unparalleled. 

At some point, we've all needed a little lifting.  For those of you who are veteran educators, visualize your early days in the field.  Were you able to ask questions in a non-threatening environment?  Did you have access to a confidant who allowed you to speak freely without being judged?  Did you feel acknowledged, valued and supported?  If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you're among the lucky.  Not everyone has had the same experience.

As we all know, teaching can be relentless.  It can require an excessive amount of one's time and energy, no matter if you are fresh in the teaching field or a veteran teacher.  Barnes and Gonzalez touch upon the reality of our educational system having poor teacher retention.  No wonder.  Quality teaching commands hard work!  "According to most estimates, about a third of new teachers leave the profession within the first three years, and about half leave within the first five (Barnes & Gonzalez)."  Unfortunately, those estimates are astounding and will not improve unless something is done about it...something like...(drumroll, please) the hack known as Marigold Committees.

One reason new teachers leave Education is most of them are hesitant to ask for support.  They don't want to be viewed as incapable, so they continue throughout their first year(s) feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and downhearted.  A further explanation could be that new teachers make connections with the wrong staff members or those who have a negative influence on them.

Jennifer Gonzalez wrote and illuminating post called Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers, which further advises what new teachers should do when entering the field of teaching.  I've passed this article along to many of my mentees as a positive way to heed warning.  Making use of Marigold Committees can reduce the occurrence of negativity in our schools and help new teachers associate with people of good quality.  
Let's take a moment to consider characteristics of an effective educator.  What comes to mind?  Just to name a few, I'd say enthusiastic, optimistic, collaborative, reflective, inspirational and comical.  I included comical because teachers who know how to laugh and use humor in their classroom are able to reduce the everyday stresses that come with managing a classroom full of students.  Teachers who encompass most or all of these characteristics can be considered those with the it factor.   

Marigold Committees are made up of these teachers possessing the it factor and are known as marigold teachers.  They are teachers who love teaching, love their students and never seem to run out of enthusiasm.  They are protective and nurturing.  Marigold teachers want to pay it forward and spread their passion for teaching.  They ban together to welcome new or inexperienced teachers. Marigolds want to experience the pure satisfaction of helping someone else be their best self.  Imagine how effective new teachers can become if they have access to this type of *safety net* all year long!
Unlike traditional mentoring programs, Marigold Committees are informal and do not require the typical mentoring program paperwork or formal observations.  No one on the committee is an evaluator of the new teachers.  They are strictly there to reduce any anxiousness, celebrate successes, build relationships, offer tips, answer questions, develop positive mindsets and laugh together to reinvigorate.  Gonzalez indicates marigold teachers are there to look after new teachers by "encircling them in a positive energy and helping them fend off the negativity that can often poison a beginning teacher."

As you know, this book consists of educational hacks to help educators solve their own problems with inexpensive and creative ideas.  Creating a Marigold Committee in your school is FREE!  Yes, it may take some time and effort to organize in the beginning stages, but all well worth it.  These committees aid in preventing poor teacher retention.  Poor retention of teachers "creates a vicious cycle of wasted time as schools must look for, interview, hire and train new teachers every year.  And because inexperienced teachers need several years to develop the skills of excellent teaching, schools with significant retention problems have little hope of ever realizing excellence for their students (Barnes & Gonzales)."  Who wants that? No one.

Hacking Education came into my life toward the end of the school year.  Nonetheless, I've spoken with some fellow marigold teachers at my school to begin collaborating and organizing a committee.  Better late than never.  To get started with a Marigold Committee in your own school, Gonzalez and Barnes suggest starting small, having a question and answer session with new teachers and recruiting additional marigolds.  In my opinion, you can never have enough marigolds in a school setting.  Agreed?  Starting small starts with YOU.  There's no need to wait around for *someone else* to fix the problem.  Jump in there and be a hacker!  
For further information on Marigold Committees, I highly suggest you read the book to access the blueprint for full implementation. You will not regret your decision to read the book.  You will feel inspired that YOU can make a difference and will end up having the pages dogeared and tagged.  I will end this post with some first-rate advice from Barnes and Gonzalez:  
  • Remember that although the Marigold Committee exists to share information, its main purpose is to build relationships with new teachers.
  • Remind teachers that the committees are designed to build camaraderie, as sense of belonging, and a strong community of outstanding educators.
  • Marigolds aren't know-it-alls; they are friends and mentors.
  • A Marigold Committee could be the thing that keeps your teachers with you, growing and learning and looking forward to another great school year.
Thank you for stopping by to learn more about Marigold Committees.  Next up in the #D100bloggerPD book study is the talented Theresa Carrillo.  Her post will appear on her blog Learn, Teach, Grow on Monday, March 28th and is dedicated to Hack 7: The In-Class Flip~ Bypass the Hurdles of Flipped Learning by Keeping It in School.

Happy Wednesday!


  1. Thx for sharing Colleen! I always enjoy reading your spin on things. Short, sweet, and to the point! You are just the right person to start a Marigold Committee at Irving!��

  2. Love, love, love this!! Your reflection on such a vital part of a school (new teachers and their nurturing) is something super important to me as well (duh, we are #teachertwins) and so I just love reading your take on it. And thanks for the shout out- you're pretty awesome, yourself!

    1. You're the best, #teachertwin, Kristin! Thanks for having my back (via our text this morning). ;)

  3. I love all the quotes - the one you ended with, one of my most favorites that keeps me from getting too critical of myself!
    I also love this line: "They are teachers who love teaching, love their students and never seem to run out of enthusiasm." So true. Even when I'm so so tired (like right now) I am always enthused by the kids around me and teachers who love the work we do.
    Thanks for sharing Colleen! :-)

    1. I just had to fit that last quote in this post! Lol. It's so true. When you know better, do better! On occasion, my enthusiasm may run low, but it never runs out, especially when the students walk in with their smiling faces. Thanks, Michelle! You are a huge inspiration to me. Keep being fantastic! ;)

  4. I love all the quotes you used! Great post, Colleen!


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