Yesterday I talked about how I was feeling overwhelmed when I looked at my goals and expectations for the new year (and all the work it will take to get there). This morning I am feeling overwhelmed in a different way…a good way. First of all, just a quick follow-up from yesterday. I took my own advise and just worked in the areas I knew that I could get some stuff done pretty easily. Throughout the day, those little things built on each other and I was able to make some great strides in climbing that mountain of preparation for the new year! I had a few people cheering me on, and that helped!
This is not why I am overwhelmed this morning, though. I am overwhelmed because of you! I had more people respond to yesterday’s post than any other. Most of the feedback came through Edmodo and the Facebook Page, and it just kept coming. Many people shared about how yesterday’s post encouraged them and helped them to keep moving even when the task was daunting. Along with this, many of the messages also shared what this blog means to them and how the encouragement, hope, and challenges help them to feel like they are not alone. Knowing you are not the only one feeling what you feel and that other people are going through the same things that you are going through goes along way to renew you teacher’s heart.
These messages make me want to share, again, why I started this blog and what I hope to spark with it…and I think the sparks are flying. But before I do, I am going to veer a little off of the new normal here and have a song to listen to while you read on a Thursday (two songs in one week! Woo hoo! 🙂 ). Play the song and then read on.
Teacher, I am just like you. I teach because I love it. I teach because I want to make a difference. I teach because I do not think I could not teach. Teaching is in my heart, blood, and soul. I am a teacher, just like you.
I am also a teacher just like you in that I get stressed by the expectations from others. I love my students, but sometimes teaching them can be difficult. Sometimes the weight of all the little things that come along with teaching weigh me down. Sometimes those things can bowl me over and run me down. I get tired. I get beat up. I get worn down. I see the ebb and flow of the year that always wants to push me closer and closer to burnout. I fight it off…but it is hard. I know what you go through in a year, Teacher. I am just like you. I am a teacher.
Every school year I get to that point right on the precipice of burnout. I can see and smell it. I don’t get to the point of burnout every year, but I usually get close. Really close. Last year was different, though. I saw burnout on the horizon, but I never really got that close to it. It stayed in the distance, far away.
Why? What was different last year.
I can actually point to a number of things that helped make that happen, but I want to focus on one. Hope. The power of hope. The funny part is, it wasn’t hope for me. It was hope for others.
I read through the book Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen near the end of the school year (great book whether or not you teach at a Title I school or not), and I got to a section that talked about the power that hope has on the brain and learning. This opened my eyes. I needed to help give my students hope and encouragement more intentionally and make it a priority. I took on the task of handwriting personal notes to all 80 of my students. The response was amazing! I will write more about this another day, but the students loved getting these…I had some students hound me about it until they got theirs. They started asking the other teachers when they would be writing notes! Sorry teammates! 🙂
As I wrote these letters, I got to thinking how much some simple words of real encouragement (based on positive truth..the only kind of encouragement I know how to give) would make me feel and spur me on to bigger and greater things. I went looking online for some kind of source of this kind of encouragement for teachers. It wasn’t there. I could not find anything like that. I wanted something for teachers by teachers to give hope and encouragement. I just couldn’t find it. So I decided to create it myself! Thus Dear Teacher/Love Teacher was born!
The purpose of Dear Teacher/Love Teacher is give hope, encouragement, inspiration, and challenges to you, Teacher, from another or other teachers (me and my Substitute Teachers). More than giving you hope, though, the other purpose, or the sparks, is that I want to push you on to do the same for other teachers and for your students. I want you to be a conduit of hope and inspiration. There is so much negativity in education right now…I want to start an Encouragement Revolution. That starts with me and starts with you.
Going back to the beginning when I talked about burnout, I think that hope giving and spreading is one of the big reason that burnout stayed away from me this year. Encouraging others encouraged me and kept me going!
The reason that I believe encouragement is so important to give out, is that it is a part of our job as teachers…or should be. I had you play this song, not so you could think about the people who “raise [you] up” but to start thinking about yourself as someone that others could sing this song to. I want you to be a person that raises people (both other teachers and your students) up to more than they could be.
How can you…
- lift some burdens from some of your fellow teachers?
- sit a while with someone who feels alone and help them feel less lonely?
- fill your students with wonder?
- help students and other teachers feel like they can climb impossible mountains?
- walk with a teacher over a stormy sea?
- make a student or a younger teacher stronger by being on your shoulders?
- push those around you to be more than they could be without you?
Teacher, if you are here reading this. You understand the importance of hope. You get the need for encouragement. You want to be inspired and challenged. I am glad you came. I am glad you are finding that here. Now go and give what you have gotten here out to others! If you just keep it to yourself it isn’t worth as much! If you give away all the good that you have and run out…come back here for a refill. That is what I am here for!
You are so awesome! I know that you will leave a trail of that awesome behind where ever you go! You are amazing and you are making a difference! Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!