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Teacher, I Know Your Secret…

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Dear Teacher,

I know you.  Well, I don’t really…but I know something about you.  I know something that you hide.  I know something that you keep locked inside.  Something, that you don’t want other people to know.  And I want to share your secret.  It will be difficult, but I am just going to rip off that Band-Aid…

You are afraid.

Now that your secret is out, let’s talk about it.  This fear is not a general fear of anything.  No, it is very specific.  It is at the heart of who you are as a teacher.

You are afraid of not making a difference.

At the center of your being, this is all that you really want to do.  You want to change the world.  You want to affect the future.  You want to make an impact.  But again, this is not a general fear of not making a difference…it is even more specific than that.

You are afraid of not making a difference in the lives of your students.

There it is.  Your secret is all the way revealed.  Your hope is to be one of the sparks in the lives of your students that help them to make better lives for themselves.  You have seen movies like Dead Poets Society and Stand and Deliever, and you want to be a teacher like those portrayed in those stories.  You want to be one of the inspirations that allows your students to make the world a better place.  Your passion is to assist in the transition of your students from where they are into the adults they will be.  And this is a noble goal…but it can lead to the fear that you hide.

And it is a valid fear.

However, this fear can lead to you spreading yourself out too thin.  It can cause you to bite off more than you can chew.  It can lead to burnout.  It can lead to depression.  It can lead to you leaving the career and job that you love to do.

And it does not have to do this.

Listen, the fear of not making a difference in the lives of your students is okay, but it does not have to define your inner self or destroy you slowly like it does so many great teachers.  There is a way to know that you are making a difference each and every day.

The greatest, most dynamic teaching is not what changes lives.  Having your students make the most growth on standardized tests does not change lives.  Attending the latest, greatest professional development, reading the books by the world-renown teachers, or attending the trendiest conferences does not change lives.  I am not saying any of this is bad, but I am saying it is not what changes lives.

What makes the biggest difference in the lives of your students is you.  It is you as a person.  It is you as a teacher.  It is you as a reliable adult in their lives.

What will make the biggest impact in the lives of your students is believing in them, helping them believe in themselves, and helping them learn ways to reach their potential.  This is what they need more than anything else in the world from you.

Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs
Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs

I know it sounds pie-in-the-sky and simplistic, but it really is that simple.  So yes, you will need a lot of tools in your toolbox because this is individualistic to each student that you teach.  You will need to know how to roll with the ebb and tide of each day in your classroom.  You will have to put time and effort in…but what needs to be at the heart of what you do is why you do it.  And that reason has to be belief in who your students can be and what they can do in the future.

Teachers who do this are the ones who are remembered.  They are the ones who make the impact.  They are the ones who change lives.  They are the ones who make the long-term difference.

Think about it.  Look back at the teachers who made the biggest difference in your life.  Was it their lessons?  Or was it them as a person who cared for you and believed in you?  I think I know the answer.

Yes, it takes work.  Yes, it is hard.  Yes, you will not always be your students’ favorite teacher.  Sometimes you will be the least favorite teacher for some students…but one day they might just look back and remember you as someone who did not let them give up and who saw who they could be one day.  For some inspiration…check out the video that inspired this post this morning.  It brought up the times that I think (and hope) that I was this teacher for students.

You can be that teacher.  You are that teacher.  You are making that difference that you fear you might not make.

Speaking of that fear, let’s circle back to the point of this letter.

You are afraid of not making a difference in the lives of your students.

It is okay to have this fear, but let it drive you to believe in your students, help them believe in themselves, and cause you to find every way possible to help each student see and start working towards who they can be one day.  This will cause you to be that difference in their lives.  I promise.

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Image Source:

I know I say this all of the time, but, Teacher, you are amazing.  You are a great teacher!  You are completely awesome and you totally rock.  You are making a difference each and every day!  Keep on believing in your students and keep on teaching!

Love, Teacher



I am a middle school teacher who lives in the upstate of South Carolina.

2 thoughts on “Teacher, I Know Your Secret…

  1. This is a comment for the author of “Teacher, I Know Your Secret”. You wrote a very powerful message to teachers. I wish that all teachers would read it. It really strikes a chord. Yes, we want to make a difference in our students’ lives – aside from making sure that we’re teaching the academics. We want our students to be self-confident in themselves as individuals. We want them to be prepared for life in that big scary world that they’ll have to navigate one day – very often by the seat of their pants. If you don’t do it already, have you considered giving talks to various school districts around the country? Keep it up because those teachers who are out there in the classrooms need your words of encouragement and inspiration.
    P.S. In the article, you may want to correct the spelling of the second movie. It should be “Stand and Deliver.”
    Again, thank you.

    1. Thank you so much! Right now all my life can handle is the blog, Facebook posts, Twitter, and the texting group! I haven’t ruled out some kind of book in the future, but for the moment it’s just the online stuff. Please spread the word about it! It might be a while before the next post, though. My laptop went down this morning and it will be a while before I can replace it. 😦

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