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Fish Philosophy

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Teacher Practice Network convening at Lake Point Conference Center in Russellville, Arkansas. Our @APSRC leaders facilitated the convening built around the ideas of the Fish Philosophy. The philosophy is based on the Pike Place Fish Market.

The four principles are

Teachers need to remember to play, not only grind out the work. After all, we all know what happens when our students do not get recess. Teachers need to bring their creative spirit to more than just lesson plans.  Play taps into our natural way of being creative. Play is the spirit that drives the curious mind, as in “Let’s play with that idea!” It’s a mindset we can bring to everything we do. Stuart Brown, a play researcher, and psychiatrist said in his TED talk that what is"so unique about our species is that we're really designed to play through our whole lifetime."

Teachers need to remember to Be There. It is our present to be present each and every day with our students. It is all too easy to allow other things to distract our attention from the students. The principal of Be There is too critical to overlook. Matt Killingsworth "discovered that a feeling of pleasure, contentment, or happiness occurred when folks were doing one thing at a time, that’s it." Teachers will experience more joy if they commit to the principle of Be There.

Teachers talk to students daily about their attitudes. But, when do we adjust our attitudes? Our attitude is the one thing we can control. The American comedian, W.C. Fields, wrote, "Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill." The good news is that it is easy to Choose Your Attitude.

We can use Make Their Day in spontaneous or planned ways. A smile and a thank you can brighten someone's day. This principle is a win-win for teachers. When we choose to brighten someone's day, it helps make our life more meaningful because we are meant to be in relationship with our students and our colleagues. Nicholas Provenzano provides 3 Meaningful Ways to Make Relationships with Your Students.

While these principles would be easier to remember if they used a FISH acronym,  many schools, businesses, and hospitals already use the Fish Philosophy to create better customer service and to have better employee retention. Teacher retention is critical. The state of Arkansas reports a 77% teacher retention rate statewide with an expected deficit of teachers based on the number of students currently enrolled in teacher training programs. Maybe, we all need to invest some time in the Fish Philosophy.


Brown, S. (2008, May). Play is more than just fun. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

FISH for Schools. (2017). Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

Killingsworth, M. (2011, November). Want to be happier? Stay in the moment.
Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.


TPN Teacher Leader
District Director of Professional development, AP English Teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist. 


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