If you are like me, this school year has you drowning in the churning mix of expectations, programs, and voices telling you what you should be doing to best teach your students.
Not that these things are wrong. You are listening. You are trying. You are implementing all that you can.
But something inside of you feels lost.
You feel like a broken teacher.
I have gotten there this year, too. You are not alone.
However, something occurred to me when I was bemoaning the educational lot that I have been given this year. Maybe this “something” will help you the way that it helped me.
I am a good teacher!
I sometimes actually know what I am doing!
I have been to training after training. I have some natural abilities. I have the gift of experience on my side.
I can teach!
I am a teacher.
This thought was like the sun peeking up over the horizon of the morning of the darkest night. Hope was renewed inside of me. I felt like a new person…no. I felt like an old person. I felt like the person and teacher I used to be.
I realized that I know how to reach my students. I remembered that I know how to help them learn and become learners on their own. I have this. I can do this. I can teach!
It is not always perfect and I have a lot to learn, but I cannot discount what I can already do. I need to build on what I have, not tear down the house and try to rebuild.
I know what my students need, and if I don’t I know how to find out. Not only do I know the needs, I know how to meet them. I know how to get the process of learning to be a constant in my classroom.
I can do this!
The same goes for you, Teacher. No matter how beat-up by the extra “stuff” that you feel, you are a good teacher. You know your students. You have what it takes to get to them and get them to learn. Don’t forget this. Don’t lose this.
You still need to try to do what you are asked, keep learning, and keep listening, but you need to build on what you are already good at doing, too. You can’t fight the current of things, but you can swim with that current and get your students where they need to be.
You need to be the teacher that your students need you to be…and that teacher is you. You have what it takes. You’ve got this. Even on the hardest days.
Do not give up! I know that it is hard. But you are surrounded by others just like you. We feel the same things. We are great teachers. We know what to do. Let’s get out there and to it!
Let’s just keep swimming and do what is right. We will get our students where they need to be by being who we need to be.
Are you with me?
Good. Now let’s teach like we mean it today. Let’s be the teacher that we were and that we can be! Our students need us to!
You are so awesome! You really are a great teacher! You know what you need to do. Do it. You’ve got this. Don’t give up! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
I am sorry that my words of encouragement have been few and far between this year. It has been a rough and busy school year.
But I guess that this is not news to you.
As I talk to and get feedback from other teachers, I am hearing the same thing from them. It is a tough year. There is no time. It is all that I can do to keep my head above water.
We are all just trying to survive this year, aren’t we.
It isn’t easy for any of us, even the most veteran teachers.
This school is is just plain difficult.
I have some good news and some encouragement for you today.
The Good News: For most of us, this school year is half-way over!
And there was much rejoicing.
You know what takes to be a good teacher. Nay. You know what it takes to be a GREAT teacher. You know because you are one.
I know that this is a trying year. There is so much extra on your plate. There are so many curve balls to contend with and handle. There is just a lot of…well…everything this year. It is not easy to let your greatness show.
But, you awesome teacher, you, know what your students need. You know what is best. You know how to reach and teach even the most difficult students in your class. You know what it takes to get your students where they need to go. You have the knowledge and the know-how!
I have four words for you: Stick to your guns!
Stay true to the teacher that you know you are. Sometimes that means having to fight battles over what is best for your classroom. Sometimes you just have to go through the motions of the extra that you are asked to do. Sometimes you need to let a few of those unneeded plates drop (you know all of those many plates that you have to spin for the sake of spinning and not for the sake of the precious ones in your class). Sometimes you just have to stand up for what is right.
It is not always easy to do, but you have to remember who you are there for…your students.
I know, there is voice after voice after voice telling you the best way to do your job. Sometimes those voices are right. Sometimes you are already doing a good job and can afford to put some voices on mute. Have the courage to do that. Find the voices that count, but don’t forget your own.
Be courageous and do what needs to be done today.
Make your students your goal.
Remember them today.
You can do it!
You are awesome and I completely believe in you! You have what it takes to do what it takes. You are making a difference! You are strong and courageous. I know that you will make choices today that will help your students be everything that they can be! Keep going! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
You may have had a great day yesterday. It might have been a bad one.
You might be facing difficulty at school today. You might be looking forward to the best day ever.
You might be energized from break. You might be completely worn down from the school year.
I don’t know where you lie in the the spectrum of these between the extremes, but I do know one thing.
You are a great teacher.
It doesn’t always feel that way. As a matter of fact, it seems like the curve balls of life want you to believe anything but that is true.
But it is true.
Teaching is hard, and getting harder, but you are good at it. You have a knack for it. You are skilled. You have gifts and talents that make you one of the best.
Don’t listen to the doubt.
You know what you are doing.
You make good decisions for the betterment of your students.
All difficulties seem in the distant past when what you are doing for the sake of students pans out in the end.
You can rest assured of the fact that you are a good teacher. Cling to that for dear life.
Things always get better. You know this.
Be that excellent teacher that you are. Stand firm. Keep fighting. Keep going.
Do what you are meant to do…and be great at it! You’ve got this!
Teacher, you are amazing. You are awesome! Do not let the world around you beat you up. We go through storms as teachers, but we can ride them out. Never lose faith in what you are meant to do. You are a teacher. You are meant to teach. Hang on, Friend, it will get better! Keep going, fighting, and never stop teaching!
Happy New Year! And so a new one begins, huh? I am not sure what this school year has been like for you so far, but you have a fresh start to the second half. What are you going to do with it?
I can’t help but think of a new year as a seed. It is something that is up to you on how it will grow. Like I teach my students whenever I teach my unit on plants, seeds stay dormant until they have the right conditions to grow.
I moved into my current classroom and curriculum three years ago. In one of the drawers, I have many as a science teacher, I found a bag of beans. I had no idea how old they were and decided not to use them….until this year.
This year, I went a little “grow crazy” during the plant unit and tried to plant as much as I can using the big grow light set-up we have. I remembered those seeds. I did the germination in a damp paper towel thing, and despite the age of the seeds, they still germinated!
I planted them, watered them, and let time and nature do the rest. As I said, I grew several things all at the same time. I was disappointed that, though many things flowered, nothing came to fruit…or so I thought.
Another teacher came to observe in my room and we got talking about my plants and how the plants flowered by nothing else. He knows a lot more about growing than I do, and he started looking through them. And he found something…on the bean plants. He found little bean pods. Not only did they grow, they produced more seeds! I was disappointed in the size until some students and I started looking through the plants and we found large bean pods! It was a cool moment for this science teacher who is bad at growing stuff!
Though the beans were who-knows-how-old, they were still dormant and waiting for the right conditions to grow.
Why did I share this story?
Teacher, you may have had a rough school year. Not much may seem to have happened for you or your students. You may have seen nothing but seedlings so far…or worse, you just see empty soil.
Do not give up!
You have a fresh start coming up!
Your seeds may still just be dormant.
You just need the right conditions for growth!
I do not know what growth or the right conditions look like for you, but you do. What will it take to make that happen? What do you need? What do you need to focus on?
Stop whining about what is going wrong this year and work on what is going right! Give yourself and your students the light, water, and nutrients needed for growth! Reflect, regroup, and regrow!
You can do it!
You know what it takes!
You have what it takes!
It time to get growing!
It is grow time, Teacher!
You are awesome and I know you have what it takes to get things growing this year. You are an amazing teacher. You are making a difference. Don’t give up! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
So, the old Earth is finishing up another trip around the Sun. New Year’s Day is kind of like Earth’s birthday. Another year is over and it is time to start a new one. I bet you are reflecting aren’t you? It is kind of the human thing to do.
How was this year for you? What were the highs? What were the lows? How are you feeling about a new one starting?
Since you are in an introspective mood, I want to give a challenge to your inner monologue.
There is something you need to think about. The year is over, but the school year isn’t even halfway. This has been a difficult school year for most of us. We have been beat-up, beat-down, and you just feel beat.
You need something to get you through the rest of the year.
You need one thought.
You need a reminder.
This is a reminder only you can give yourself.
You need to answer one question, and I think you should answer it right now. Write down your answer. Give some reasons why you answered the way that you did. Put it somewhere to remind you for the rest of the year.
Are you ready?
Why are you a teacher?
I know, I know, this year you have probably asked yourself that a lot…with sarcasm and negativity. That is not what I am talking about. You need to reflect on the whole reason why you became a teacher in the first place. You need to think about the heart of what and why you do what you do and deal with what you have to deal with. There has to be a reason. You probably have many.
I bet your reason has little to do with content. It probably has everything to do with students and making a difference. I know this is the case for me.
Let me give you my reasons. This is more for me than for you…because I am a teacher and I need to do this as much as you do!
Why am I a teacher?
- I have a huge heart and am filled with compassion for people that have little to no resources (aka…live at or near the poverty line)…teaching at a Title I school is a great way to have an impact and make a difference.
- I want to help students, especially at-risk boys, start thinking through choices and become leaders in their families and communities.
- I love to learn and pass that love of learning on to others.
- I love the process of teaching and learning and I love to teach others how to learn better.
- I am creative and obviously have a gift for teaching, I would be miserable not using my abilities and talents to help others.
- Teaching is in my blood and I live for it…I would be bored doing anything else.
I can probably come up with 1000 more reasons, but I think this is a enough for now. That was helpful to my teaching heart and teaching soul! Thanks for letting me do that here!
What about you? Why are you a teacher?
You are awesome and you are good at what you do! I highly recommend some reflection on your reasons for teaching. It might make you ready to endure more of what is wearing you out this year. You have a reason. You have a purpose. You are making a difference. Keep on teaching, Teacher!
I hope that you have had a restful, resetting break so far! I really do.
As the business of Christmas settles down I know that thoughts of school are starting to creep back in. I know this is true because you are a great teacher.
This is why I am writing to you today. I want to say thank you. Thank you for being a great teacher. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your creativity. Thank you for you!
You are amazing!
You are a gift to your students.
You are a gift to education.
You are a gift to the world!
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
You are awesome. You are making a difference. Keep on teaching, Teacher!