I am a teacher, just like you. A couple of years ago, I began reading a book called Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen. It was an eye opening read, especially as a Title I teacher, which I was when I read it. The part that struck me the most is a section about the effects of hope on brain chemisty in the chapter on classroom practices. It inspired me to take on a project of writing a personal letter to every student that I teach (and a few that I do not teach). I pointed out their strengths, their growth, and what they should think about as they move on to 7th grade. More than all of that, I found something to praise about each and every student…especially the more difficult ones.
The results have been amazing. Students could not wait to get their letter. I could only write a handful a day, so it took time to get to each. Students started asking other teachers when they would be writing letters. My classroom dynamic changed. Some students really started working hard for me when they did not work much before. Some improved behavior. Some became classroom leaders. It had some effect on almost every student. Hope is a powerful drug. Students need the medicine that hope is to their system. It is our job to teach, but we also have to give hope. Hope for now and hope for the future.
This brings me to the reason for this blog. Blogs with strategies and best practices are a dime a dozen. My letter writing campaign made me wish I had someone to write a letter to me as a teacher. Someone to encourage me. Someone to praise me. Someone to challenge me. Someone to give me hope. As teachers, we need hope as much as our students do. Hope changes our brain chemistry. It changes our mood. It changes how we view our students.
That is the purpose of this blog. To give hope. To be what we all need. We all need a little more hope so that we can turn and pour it out to our kids. I hope this blog brings you encouragement and hope.
Keep teaching, teacher. You are awesome!
12 thoughts on “About”
That was a very nice method for motivating students. Sometimes you need the peace of mind to recall special moments when each of these children did run across your mind in a favorable way and writing it down before you’re interupted again is an excellent idea! Thank you for the inspiration and now I am curious about the book too!
Thank you. The book is amazing, especially if you teach low SES students. A good deal of it is whole school information…but it is worth getting through to get to the classroom stuff. The students have loved their notes. Other teacher have started to write them because of the effect they have had on the students. I want to do it throughout the year next year.
I haven’t read the book, but I accidentally came across your blog and just wanted to say thank you. Thank you so much for these beautiful words! I feel very much like you are describing in your posts and wish that someone would encourage me sometimes.
You are very welcome. We all need encouragement…especially teachers.
If you got any flack at all for writing those letters, let me know to whom I should address my ‘love letter’. I am so glad you’re here, encouraging us all. You know it’s a gift to be able to see good and bring it to other’s attention. Apparently, not everyone can or chooses to. A while back, I too thought hope was the thing missing and designed and delivered more than a few workshops on H.O.P.E. – humanity overcoming powerlessness everywhere. Somehow, my zeal went underground after a series of despicable events – tragedy, death and other disasters. But I am glad to report that it’s resurfaced and so I write to thank YOU for sharing a link to your blog in edmodo, where I found it. I used to do end each semester with college composition students taking turns, moving from desk to desk, writing something nice about one another. On the last day of class, I’d present them with printed versions of the collaborative love letter each had received with a quote and word of encouragement from me and have them read them aloud using the first person. Years later I’ve heard some still carry those letters or have what remains of them hanging on their bathroom mirror. Dare to keep hoping out loud and thanks for tracking, “the effects of hope…”.
Thank you so much for sharing this! I love to see that I am not alone in seeing and trying to fill the need of hope and encouragement for teachers! I am glad that you have found your passion for doing this again! Thank you for sharing the story of the notes, I might use that idea next year.
Would you ever be interested in guest posting on Dear Teacher? I want to start having a guest poster to be a Substitute Teacher once each week. Email me if you might like to do this. firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, personal words of encouragement are so powerful! I did something similar one year where I wrote each student a short note to praise & encourage them – and I also emailed their parents. You’re right – it makes a big difference. And it’s fun too 🙂 Thanks for taking it to the next level to encourage teachers!
I’m not sure how I have come across your blog, but thank you so much for extending your words of encouragement to us, ME! I now have your blog sent directly to my work email – so it is the first thing I see in the morning when I’m at work…
Thank you for the reminders that our work is important, hard, miraculous, hard, worthwhile, hard.
I love the POD song you’ve included today. (Hometown boys)
Keep up the great work! I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!
Thankyou for giving me hope.
Your posts have inspired me to keep running the race. Thankyou thankyou thankyou 🙂
thank you for every thing … p.s thanks agin
LOVE this site. I really need this right now. Just getting ready for a new school year and getting nervous. This was the perfect pep talk. Thanks
I am just starting the book you mentioned. I have read Chapter 1, and cannot wait to finish the book.
I have been checking in with you on and off the past year, and love the message of hope. Now to transfer it to my fellow co-workers and administration.
Thank you so much.
6th grade Science Teacher and Life-long learner