I bet you thought I was gone for good, huh? I haven’t written you in quite some time. I am sorry for that. But it was necessary.
I needed a break.
Sometimes we all do, and I definitely did. I needed one and I took one.
I did not know how long the break from blogging would last. I even let the domain name go for a bit. I wasn’t sure if I would be back…but here I am. I am here for you.
Where did I go?
Well, just like for you, the world is spinning. I think everyone feels that, but teachers and educators especially do. We have so much to do and take care of between school life and home life…and sometimes the world is moving faster than we can keep up with and all we can do is hold on for dear life.
That is where I was…holding on for dear life.
I had to do what we all do. I had to evaluate all of my self-given responsibilities and decide which ones needed to take a backseat and even go in the trunk for a while. I had to make some hard choices. Writing to you was one thing that I could put down for a while, and I did. I did because I had to.
I am back, now, though. Hopefully you didn’t need my encouragement too much and were able to find some from another source for a while.
I am writing to you to challenge you to take some time this summer and figure out what you might need to put down for a while. What is the extra that is good but might be the one-too-many for your life? What are you juggling that you don’t have to? What can you put aside for a while?
And sometimes you need to think about picking something else up once you put it down.
What is something that you want to do or love doing that you could buy some time for by stopping something else? Is there a hobby? A bucket-list item? A place you want to visit? Anything?
Find a way to make some time for that this summer. You might just find the you that you’ve forgotten for a while.
For me it was a little (big) side project…I invented a math-based board game, and followed through with it until it was an actual game. I will share about it in another post later, but I can’t tell you how good it felt to do something different and try a new challenge. It brought my creativity back to life after a good but draining school year. I am refreshed and renewed because I put something down (this blog) and tried something new (board game design).
Could you do something similar this summer? I encourage you to try!
Have you been doing this already? If so, let me know what you have put down and what you have picked up in the comments!
You are awesome, as always, and I hope you are having an amazing break from the day-to-day of teaching. You are making a difference for everyone in your life! Keep on resting this summer and keep on teaching, Teacher!
(Oh, and if you are interested in hearing more about the board game that I am quite proud of, let me know in the comments, as well!)
It is drawing ever nearer to the last days of school (if you aren’t already there). You are tired. No…strike that. You are completely and utterly exhausted. This school year has done you in. You are so done with all of the chaos and drama.
And you deserve to feel that way…it has been a TOUGH year.
You have made it through, but only barely.
The last weeks and days of school are a light at the end of the tunnel, and you feel like your students do right before the buses come. You are just watching that clock.
You keep waiting for the seconds to tick down. And they feel slow incredibly slow. Why can’t it just be over. You need it to be over.
Let me remind you, it is almost time. You are almost there.
You need this summer…and summer’s coming, friend. Summer is coming!
It is okay that you’re worn out right now. If you weren’t, I would be worried that there is something wrong with you or if you might actually be a superhero…or alien…or both. This year has been rough, and you should be tired in every way shape and form.
And for this reason, it is also okay to be excited about your coming “break” – even with all of the work you have to do eventually over the summer…it still counts as a break. You get to recharge. You get to relax. You get to unwind from the stress of this year.
You have done well this year, my Teacher Friend. You have made a difference this year, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. You have earned the right to look forward to the summer. You have my permission to watch the clock. :)
You are an amazingly awesome teacher! You will always be. Enjoy the rest of the year! Keep on clock-watching…errr…I mean teaching, Teacher!
I have been working on this letter to you in my head for over a week. I just haven’t been sure what to say. Today I decided the best way to start is just begin. Pretty easy, really.
So I have a pretty big podcast addiction. I love listening to them. I really like shows that cause me to think. And because of this, last week I heard something that has inspired me.
There is a choral composer/conductor, Eric Whitacre, who had an idea. He put one of his songs out on the internet and gave a call on Youtube for people to sing their parts on video and send them to him. With this, he posted a silent video of him conducting the song. He had a huge response and put together a video of his “Virtual Choir.” This is the first video…
There has been subsequent “Virtual Choir Concerts,” and with each one the response is bigger and bigger. The latest have had thousands of singers from around the world.
Think about that. Thousands of people from around the planet singing one song together.
And it is beautiful.
And I am not just talking about the songs. They are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but the most beautiful thing about this is the thought. People with a shared passion from different countries, different cultures, and different views all joining together for one song. One thought. One idea. Beautiful.
This got me thinking. Is there an application to this idea in education? Can educators from around the country and even around the world come together and have one voice? One message about something? One heart and one passion? And how would we share it?
The more I think about it, the more ideas I have, but it keeps coming back to the question, “What is our one thing as educators?”
And it hit me…we do have something beautiful to share.
This something is so beautiful that it might just change what people think about education…and maybe the way that the education system is viewed and legislated.
That beautiful thing is our students growth and change throughout the year. It is our stories of the magic that happens in the classroom. It is the knowledge of the changes that happen in the lives of our school kids when teaching and learning happens through hard work and relationships. It is in sharing those amazing things that we see happen between day one and the last day of a school year.
We need to share these things. We need to talk about them. The world needs to hear them.
These are the things that cannot be standardized. They do not show up on a test. They cannot be measured. They can not be quantified.
This is our song.
Let’s sing it together!
I want to start collecting stories. I want to hear your voice and share it with the world. Will you help me?
For now, I am going to collect the stories in written form via the contact form at the bottom of the post. I may eventually move to video and/or audio format…but baby steps. Lets start here.
What do you think? Are you in?
So here is all you need to do. I want to hear one of your magical classroom stories about student change and growth. You know, those stories that you hold dear and that keep you going. Tell the story how ever you would like. Just remember to change names to protect privacy. I will share the stories here. Just let me know if you want to be kept anonymous or if I can share your name. The contact form is at the bottom of the post.
Oh, you can share as many stories as you’d like…and please share this post far and wide so I can get as many stories as I can!
This is going to be awesome! You are awesome. I can’t wait to hear your stories! You are an amazing teacher and I know that there are some beautiful things that have happened in your classroom. Keep making those beautiful things happen and keep on teaching, Teacher!
Trial run…leave a story via Google Voicemail: (864) 660-3858).
You do so much. I don’t mean that as a meaningless platitude because it is Teacher Appreciation Week. I mean that as someone who knows. Someone who has and is living the life of a teacher. You do so very much!
It is almost inconceivable how much that you do for your students, your students’ families, your coworkers, your administration, your family, your friends, and…sometimes, every once in a while, on the rare occasion…for yourself…though, that is seriously not as often as it should be. You live and breathe for others. And you do it because you have a heart for others, especially your students.
You do so much!
And there is not much that you get in return; at least not tangible things. This is something you are okay with. You are because you are doing what you do for something bigger. You are working for the lives and future of your students…which is what matters most to you.
You do deserve more, though.
In all honesty, you do deserve more money for all that you do. You deserve more respect from others. You deserve more recognition for the extra miles that you go. You deserve more freedom and autonomy within the system because you do know what you are doing most of the time. With that, you deserve the trust that you can make good decisions for the sake of your students. And the list could go on and on.
You are a great teacher and you deserve more than you get!
You deserve more and you know it…but this is not what is important to you. What is important is that you impact your students lives and help them become the amazing people that they can be one day. This is what makes you awesome. You know you deserve more, but that is not what drives you. Your students drive you. And this is one of the many reasons you deserve more.
We both know that the “more” may never come. But there is one thing that I can offer you. I can offer you a thank you.
Really, really, really, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, Teacher.
I thank you for all that you do. I thank you for the things that you do that you don’t have to. I thank you for your heart. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
I thank you as a fellow teacher who you serve as an example for. I thank you as a parent who has teachers that are like you and are influenced by you. And I thank you as a citizen of the world because you really are making the future better.
Teacher, I can not give you all that you deserve, and for this I am sorry. But I do promise to always try to thank you…even when it is not Teacher Appreciation Week. A thank you is something you deserve every day! I will do my best to try.
You are an amazingly awesome teacher! Thank you for teaching on even though you do not get everything you deserve! You are making a difference and changing lives. Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!
It is here: Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation Season.
It comes around every year. No one loves it, but it is a harsh reality that will probably not go away any time soon.
Students must be tested. Learning must be assessed. Teaching must be evaluated. How else will accountability happen in education? Right?
Why do I hear crickets after asking the question?
Oh yeah, no one wants to talk about it. Okay, so I won’t either. I just want to remind you about something.
You and your students are way more than just an assessment or evaluation result. The learning and growing that happens in your classroom can’t be measured by a standardized test and/or rubric.
The true measurement of what happened in the classroom can only be experienced. You have to know where the students were when they came to you in the beginning of the year…not just academically and according to standards, but also socially, emotionally, and ownership of learning. These things are hard to standardize…no, they are impossible to standardize.
So…DON’T LOSE HEART ABOUT TESTING AND EVALUATIONS!
I know there is a lot tied to them…but breathe. Relax. Remember that the true worth in what happens in your classroom is in the results of the growth that is clear in the students that leave your classroom at the end of the year.
You can’t control the assessment process, but you can control how you react to it.
Don’t put all of your stock in the assessments and evaluations. Instead, take stock of what has happened and the change you have seen in your students…even if it is just a little bit of change in some students, you can celebrate it! A win is a win.
Reflect on what you have seen in each student. Write it down. Point it out to them. Let them see the growth as you take time to see it, too. Make sure they know that this is the true measurement of learning in your class. This will help you and your students find a bit of joy here in the stressful season at the end of the year.
What have you seen and can celebrate?
- A student who asks questions more?
- Someone who follows instructions more often?
- Homework being done a little more often?
- Effort being put in where it wasn’t before?
- Finishing work and not giving up?
- An increase in success for some students?
- Waiting more often and taking turns?
- Someone who has stopped being mean to others?
- The list could go on and on, but I think you get it.
You are an excellent and amazing teacher. I have no doubt you know how to measure the learning and change in your classroom. This is just a little nudge to get back to what you know and to find joy at the end of what has been a trying and tough year.
You have done a great job this year! Your students are changing. They are different students than came to you at the beginning. You are the one to thank for that! You have stuck it out with them. You have put in the effort and tears. You have done whatever it takes to see that change. Celebrate it. You really are an awesome teacher!
Don’t let the testing and evaluations get you bogged down. You and your students are more than scores. You are learners and learning HAS happened this year . You are the reason that it has…and this means that you rock!
Thank you for all you do! Keep on teaching, Teacher!