Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance

What is the point?

Dear Teacher,

I know, the title sounds a bit negative, but this is far from a negative message.  It is a question we teachers need to think about every day before every class or lesson taught in a day.  We need to ask ourselves this question because our students are going to come in with this question.  What is the point?

I find that my best teaching days do not revolve around activities planned.  They do not hinge on the minutia of my lesson plans.  They do not even focus on the details of my standards that I hope to address.  No, they have nothing to do with these things (though they help).

My best days hang on having a goal.  They have a “point,” so to speak.  Great teaching days come when I have a concept or idea (based on my standards) that I focus on in the lessons and activities.  I hang my hat on these things.  If the lesson goes another way than I planned, I roll with it.  If my students come in with too much energy to do what I hoped to do, I adjust.  I adjust to them and in a way that still focuses on my goal.

This, I believe, is one of the keys to being a great teacher.

You need to know what the “point” of the day needs to be.  Then, no matter what the day brings, you move hell and high water to meet that goal.  Have back up activities in mind.  Know some good real world examples that you can bring up.  Have some challenge problems you can have the students work through.  Know your materials.  Know your content.  Know your stuff.  Change an old activity to make it fit in the moment.  Roll with the punches.  Be flexible.  And beyond all else, make your “point” your goal and do not sweat the small stuff that got in the way of your plans.

Make your goal, your point, happen, no matter what!

I share this today because I need to hear this.  I have A LOT of things planned for my students.  I am a science teacher, so there are a lot of details for me to work out with activities.  However, I can not let these activities make or break my day.  I need to focus on what I want them to get (the relationship between electricity and magnetism that causes electromagnets in my case).  No matter what, I need my students to understand this one thing.

  • If I have to adjust my plans, so be it.
  • If I have to do demos instead of hands-on for a class, it is not a big deal.
  • If the lesson takes a turn I do not expect, I can roll with it.

I have one goal in mind.  I know what they need to understand, and this is what will make my lessons.  I do not have to stress over things not working out the way I planned.  I just need to get to my “point.”

I can do this.  You can do this.  We can do this!

So what is your point today?  What is the one thing you need your students to get by the end of your lesson?  How will you roll with the punches?  How will you get to the point?

You are awesome!  You’ve got this!  This is your day.  You will get to the point, I know it.  You are amazing.  You are making a difference!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, Choose Positive, General Inspiration, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

What you have…

Dear Teacher,

I don’t know what you are going through.  I do not know if yesterday was the best day ever or a day to try to forget forever.  I don’t know if you are in an upswing or a down.  I just don’t know where you are in your teaching life.

I do know one thing, though.  I know what you have.  You have this no matter what you are feeling or going through in you life and your role as a teacher.  This one thing is more precious than gold or money (though more of those would be nice).

You have today.

You have today.

You have today.

Today is not only something that you have.  Today is really the only thing you have.

You know the saying, “Yesterday is gone and we are not promised tomorrow.”  It is an old and tired statement, but it is nonetheless true.  Today is all that we have.  It is the only thing that we can be positively sure of.


What are you going to do with it?  How are you going to use it?  How will you make it count?  How will you make it last?

Are you going to use it up on bemoaning yesterday?

Are you going to waste it on worrying about tomorrow?

Or will you make every second something worthwhile?  Can I challenge you to try?

Will you use it to connect more with your students?  Will you make your lessons something that will be remembered?  Will you make students feel special?  Will you make them feel loved?

Just like you, our students only have today.  They need it to count.  They need it to last.  They need it to mean something.

Will you be the one to help them do it?

Will you help them make today matter in their lives?

They need you to.

You need you to.

You are a teacher and that is what you do.

Today is what you have.  Use it well, friend, use it well.

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are AWESOME!  You are more than amazing.  I know that you will make today count, matter, and last.  You will teach your students to do the same.  You are making a difference.  Don’t you forget it!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Pep Talk, Reason for Teaching, Reflection

The Lost Goal

Dear Teacher,

I am in the trenches with you!  This has been a long week.  I am tired.  I am beat up.  I am worn out.  I am not broken, but I am a little battered.

Do you feel the same way?  If not today, have you recently?

I talk a lot about the pressures and struggles of teaching and the difficulty in finding balance while juggling a thousand things at once.  I won’t remind us of that today.  We know what we have to do.  We know how hard it is.  We don’t need to be re-educated on those things we know oh so well.

I am in a reflective mood.  In this time of reflection, I am thinking a lot about what are really the roots of my frustration right now.  I really don’t think it has anything to do with the students.  I don’t think it is the burden of having so many responsibilities every minute of every day.  I don’t think it is the pressures form above me in the hierarchy of things.  I don’t think it is the content or curriculum.  I don’t think it has much to do with the job of teaching at all.  I think it has everything to do with me.

I don’t think I have focus.

I am not saying that I am not focused as a teacher.  I am not saying that I am not looking to the standards for direction.  I am not saying that I have forgotten my heart for students.  I am not saying I do not see my place in the span of things at my school.  I think I have a focus on all of these things, and everything else that I should.

And therein lies the problem.

The funny thing about focus is that it is very specific and pointed.  When you focus on something, everything around it is slightly more blurry, even if just an imperceptible amount.  You cannot truly have more than one focus.

What you focus on is the center of what you do.  Everything else gets a little less attention and energy.  It has to be this way.  If it is not, then you are not really focused on anything.

When you focus on more than one thing at the same time (or many, many, many things), your energy is scattered.  Your mind is scattered.  Your heart and your soul is scattered.

When you are scattered, you are all over the place.  You cannot sustain that.  It will lead to frustration, heartache, and burnout.  You can not run in more than one direction.  You can not have more than one main goal.  It just is not possible, at least not at the level it takes to be effective and meaningful.

So, that leaves me with the question, “What do I do now, Self?”

I find the goal that matters most.  The goal that I lost along the way.  I make that my focus.  I give that my energy.  I give that my all.

And what is that goal?

I don’t even have to think about the question to answer it.  My students are my goal.  Their growth, maturity, and becoming learners and people that care about other people is what I personally care the most about.  Their who I work for, in essence.  They are my reason for all that I do as a teacher.

What does this mean, then, to what I do day-to-day?

It means I weigh decisions based on what they need.  It means I get to know them so that I know what they need.  I means that I make sure I am not losing them for the sake of lesser goals (like following lesson plans to a “t,” sticking to a strategy that I am told is excellent when it is not working for my students, or staying “on-pace” when my students are falling behind).  It means that I work on finding strategies that work for them.  It means I am willing to have more than one lesson plan for the day because some students need a little more than others.  It means I differentiate,  I means I encourage and affirm them.  It means I write notes, make parent phone calls, and take time to just say, “Hi, how are you doing?”  It means that I never give up.  It means that I find a way to reach each and every one of my students.  No matter what!

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

If I find the lost goal…if I make the old goal my new one…if I commit to keeping my focus where it matters most…I will change the world.  I will change my students.  I will change myself.

I don’t know if this rang true to you, but it is an open and honest reflection for me.  This was needed.  Thanks for reading if you made it this far!  Do you need to readjust your focus, too?  Join me in doing that today!

You are awesome!  If you are here, it is because you are trying to be the best teacher you can be and looking for a boost of encouragement to keep up the fight.  I hope you found that today.  You deserve to be encouraged!  You are a great, awesome, and amazing teacher!  Your students are your goal.  They are what really matter.  Keep going.  Keep fighting.  Keep making that difference!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, Change the World Challenge, Reason for Teaching

The Speed of Change…One by One

Dear Teacher,

Okay, I found some time to write a post.  I like writing posts more than just doing a picture message like the one I did this morning…though they are fun to do.  I did not think I would find the time to write, but I finally did.  And I found some really cool inspiration that goes right along with my theme this week!  We, you and I, need to change the world.  Teachers can do it.  We need to!

I was reading through some blogs this afternoon, and I came across this message of connecting with students.  It was so perfect.  This teacher’s message went hand-in-hand with my challenge from last Friday.  I gave us all the challenge, myself included here, to change the world by changing our own world, changing students’ worlds, changing other teachers’ worlds, and changing the worlds of those around us, outside of schools.  (How have you been doing with this, by the way?)  The blog post I read today hit one of these nails right on the head.  To change the lives of students we have got to connect with them!

I know what you are thinking…”Duh!  Everyone knows that!”

We do…but do we really?  Really, really?  Really, really, really?

Our actions show what we truly know…or at least believe.

We might know that we need to connect to students, but if someone were to really judge us by our actions would they think that we really and truly believe that it is vital to connect with students?

Take that honest look in the mirror.  What is the answer to that question?  And I am not talking connecting with some students.  I mean trying to have a connection with every student you teach, at least on some teeny, tiny level?

Is that even possible?  To connect with every student?

I think so.  But it is hard work.  You have to be purposeful.  You have to try…every day.  Find a way to connect.  Find a way to build rapport.  Find a way to earn a voice.  Once you have that voice with a student, USE IT!

Talk to your students.  Tell them the truth.  Help them to know what they need to work on.  Tell them how smart they are.  Teach them how to use that smart.  Help them use it.  Help them build confidence until they act like they know they are smart and capable.

Change your students’ world:

  • Connect
  • Build a Bridge
  • Cross that Bridge
  • Change a Mind
  • Change a Life
  • Change the World
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You can do it.  You can connect with every student.  You can be an agent of change.  You can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.  Know you can do this.  Act on that knowledge.  Start tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this).

Challenge for Today (whenever you read this): Make a purposeful connection with three students today.  You can do it!  Will you?

You are so amazing!  You are so awesome!  Do it…change the world by changing your students’s world.  The speed of change is slow because it is done one person at a time.  Start making those changes now!  You can do it!  Keep on teaching and changing the world, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, Change the World Challenge, General Inspiration, Pep Talk

Change the World

Dear Teacher,

Last Friday, I gave you a (seemingly) impossible mission.  I asked you to change the world.  I have to say, I was overwhelmed by the response.  The idea really seemed to connect to people.  I know that it really connected to me.  I have been thinking a lot about the idea of what it takes to change the world and how I can do so as “just one teacher.”

For this reason, the weekly theme song (and theme for the week) is going to build on the post from Friday.  This week is going to be all about changing the world.  Are you going to ride along with me and help me spark some change?  Click play and then read on!

The world is a mess.  I think we all feel it.  Even the most optimistic among us have to admit that there is a lot wrong with the world at-large.  We know it is that way.  We know it, and our students know it.

Some of us, though, those optimistic ones I mentioned, don’t see the world as static.  It is dynamic.  It can change.  Pardon my nerdy-ness for a moment, but we at Earth’s surface are moving at over 1000 miles per hour as the planet rotates on its axis.  We are moving fast, this should remind us that the world does not stand still.  It is moving, it is changing, and the society world can move and change just as quickly.

So, the world can change.

If it can change, let’s change it.

Simple, right?


What would we do if we could change it?  Or what would we do if we could change our own little corner of it?  What would we want it to be like?  What changes would we like to see?

I think this would be debatable…thus politics and politicians.  There are so many differing opinions on what the world should be like.  Some religions are built around thoughts on what the world should “change” to be like.  This one of the hard parts of change.  Opinions and beliefs.

I think there is one area of agreement, for the most part, across the board.  We all wish the world was better.  We wish it were nicer.  We wish it were more encouraging.  It boils down to one thing…


We all wish the world, and everyone in it, were kinder.  Kindness is the key.  Kindness is the change that most people could come to a consensus upon.  Kindness is change that most of us can agree on.

There is something cool about this.  Kindness is the easiest change to bring.  Kindness is a change that spreads.  Kindness can be like a virus that goes from one person to the next.  The change that is kindness can start with one person.  Kindness is the kind of change that can start with you.

To start a revolution of kindness is simple.  Be kind.  I am not talking polite, well-mannered, or moral.  I mean kind.  Kindness that can only come from the heart.  It has to be genuine and true.  It has to not care about who it is aimed at.  Kindness is not “payback” for kindness shown.  Kindness is given freely and to everyone.  It is given especially to those who are not kind to you.

What kind of kindness changes the world?  How can you do it?

Show kindness to EVERYONE around you.  Do small things.  Say “hello” to everyone you see.  “Good morning.  How are you?” are two powerful phrases.  High-fives and smiles can change a person’s day, and they, in turn, will help change the day for others.  “Good job.”  “I like your shoes.”   “You are awesome.”  These are just words, but they are powerful words of kindness…doubly so when they are random and barely deserved.

Kindness is a feeling that is passed through action.  Kindness makes you want to be kind to others.  Kindness changes your perspective.  Kindness wants you to do better and be better.  Kindness is an agent of change, and we so often forget it.

So…you want to change the world?  Be kind.  Let kindness be the world that people think of when they think of you.  Let there be a drop of kindness in each of your footprints each and every day.

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Your kindness will change people’s world.  They will be kind and change the world of others.  Those people will turn and do the same.  Before you know it, you (one person) have change the world!

So, how do you feel about this, Teacher?  I know that you do little acts of kindness every day.  You are a teacher, it comes with the job.  Can you be more intentional about it, though.  Can you be purposefully kind today, tomorrow, and from now on?

Today’s Change-the-World Challenge:  Give 50 high-fives.

Can you do that?  Let me add to it to make it a little harder…half, 25, of these have to be random and undeserved.  Oh, and make at least ten with an adult and not student.  Can you do this today?  I know that it sounds a little crazy, but I think you will see it causes a change in you as you try to do this, and I think you will see quite a reaction in others.  Want to give it a shot?

I hope you have a great day and great week.  You are so awesome!  You are changing the world!  You are an amazing teacher!  Keep on teaching and changing the world, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS… The “Kindness” poster/graphic is available as a part of a set of printable posters that is available to buy.  I know I keep talking about it, but I am so excited about these posters and how they can motivate students (intrinsically) to keep moving and pressing on!  The Motivational ABCs Poster/Word Wall are available in the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher TeachersPayTeachers Store…check it out, if you haven’t had the chance!  The image in this post is one of the printable posters in the set.  Oh, and the posters are on a deep discount sale this week!  You have $2 to motivate students, don’t you?  🙂

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Homework Assignment

Mission (seemingly) Impossible

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

Great Friday morning to you!  How are you doing?  Did you survive the week?  Did you thrive this week?  Somewhere in the middle?  Well, it is Friday, and, no matter what, you made it through!

This week I have written to you a lot about the overwhelming-ness of our profession.  I have talked a lot about focusing on what is important and letting some of the non-priorities sit on the back-burner.  Today, I am going to ask you to add something to your load and your “to-do” list.

Seems kind of hypocritical, I know.  Just stay with me.  I think this lines up with what I have been talking about this week.  I hope, at least.

I want to give you an assignment.  It is has four parts to it, but one main goal.  It is going to seem impossible, but I know you can do it.  I want you to change the world.

Yes.  Change the world.  I am pretty sure you can do it.  No.  I know you can do it.

I know you are one person.  I know the world is big.  I know the problems in the world are often looming just on this side of disaster.  I know you are just a tiny cog in the big machine of the entire world.  But you can change things.  I want you to do just that.

Let’s take a little movie break before I give the details of your assignment.  Kevin Spacey playing an awesome movie teacher in Pay It Forward does a much better job of explaining how to change the world than I can, anyway,

If you haven’t seen this movie, get it and watch it.  It is your extra credit assignment.  🙂

The theme of the movie is simple.  One person can truly affect the world and kindness will always win over the negative forces in this world eventually.  I know that it can seem a little idealistic, but I don’t think it is very far fetched at all.  Just like a pebble thrown into a puddle affects the whole puddle, the splash of one person being different than everyone else can cause those around them to change, those who were changed will change others, those people will change others, and so on and so on.

So, I want you to change the world.

“Okay. DearTeacherLoveTeacher, how do you think I am going to change the world?”

I am glad you asked.  It is time for your assignment.  Before you read the assignment though. play this song by the Kid President and then read while it is playing.  It makes a nice theme song for the assignment, AND he is one of the greatest examples of the pay-it-forward-attitude I have ever heard of!  I shared this song last Friday, but it is worth a second share.

Changing the World in Four Easy (slightly impossible) Steps

  1. Change Your World– Make a plan to do one thing to de-stress your school life.  Make a plan to do one thing every week that you can do to change your stress level at school.  It could be taking a break for for five minutes somewhere in the week and just breathing and remembering why you love to teach.  It could be taking one morning coffee break in the week when you are not thinking about school work.  It can be choosing one thing to “let go” each week that is a non-priority.  But this part of the assignment is a plan, and then you have to follow it.
  2. Change Another Teacher’s World– Make a plan to do one encouraging thing for another teacher each week, and it has to be a different teacher each week.  It can be hand-written notes (which is my favorite to do).  It can be to lend a hand in a time of need.  It can be a random act of awesome like bringing something in for a teacher (like chocolate or coffee).  Just do something every week for a teacher.  Try to get to everyone in your school throughout the year.  Just one a week.  You can do that!
  3. Change a Student’s World– Make a plan to do one majorly encouraging thing for one student a week.  Much like the teacher part of the assignment.  Do something like write a note, have a conversation that is not related to grades or content, give them a random piece of candy, something out of the blue.  This is not the normal things we should be doing, this is more over the top and random.  It is surprising how much this can change someone’s outlook.  You can be an over-achiever and do this for more than one student each week, but do at least one.  YOU HAVE TO PLAN TO DO THIS EACH WEEK.  If you don’t plan, it will fall to the wayside,  Jot a note for who and what to do on a sticky note each week or put a coded reminder to do this in your lesson plans.  You have to plan for it though.
  4. Change the World– Do a random act of kindness for someone outside of school.  This has to be big, random, and something that someone won’t forget.  I am talking Pay it Forward big.  Do something that will change how someone is feeling about people and the world.  Something they could not do themselves.  Then ask them to do the same for others.  Kindness will change the world.  It is the only way the world will get better.

After you have had some time to think, come back here and share your plans for 1-3.  Don’t share #4.  That one should be personal.  Don’t share it on the internet.  It is more for you and the person you help than for everyone.  If you talk to much about it, you take away from the kindness factor!  I do want you to share 1-3 so that we can all hold you to your plans.

Oh, and more extra credit…share this post with all of the teachers you know.  Give them this assignment.  Let’s change the world!

So, this is your mission, if you choose to accept it.  What do you think?  Are you going to change the world with me?

You are awesome.  You are changing the world already.  This is just a push to be more intentional in doing so.  I know you can do it!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching and keep on changing the world, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…If writing notes is a part of your plan to change the world for teachers and students, there are some really fun printable Awesome Notes  that you can write on the back of in the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  They are a big hit with teachers and students at my school.  The students love getting them and teachers love using them.  Just a little plug.  There are 10 notes in the mega pack, and there is a free sample of the notes in the store.  The mega pack is only $2.  They are not necessary for your assignment, just a fun little way to do it.  🙂

Oh, and the Kindness poster/graphic is available as a part of the Motivational ABCs Poster/Word Wall collection in the TpT store, as well.

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Pep Talk

One Thing

Dear Teacher,

As I talked about yesterday, we have so much to do, think, and and be throughout our each day.  I am feeling the weight of the pull of the thousand things that are tugging at me today.

I am trying to take my own advice and try to make sure that my focus is on the students and what they need.  The hard part is deciding what those things are!  Even if I move my focus to students and their needs, there are still so many things to choose from.  Picking a direction and running at it is important, but knowing which direction is best each day can be a challenge.

The idea of just finding “one thing” comes to mind.  One thing, one focus, one direction is all that we need.  We just have to make a decision.  How do you do that?


Where did you get to yesterday in your content?  What do your students seem to be lacking from prior content?  What are the learning/thinking skills that they need most?  What strategies are they responding to the most?

Get all of this into your mind.  What is the one thing that stands out the most?  What is the biggest student need across the board?  What is the one area that needs to most work or most support?

That is your “one thing,”

Make this deficit area, thinking/processing sill, or content topic your goal and focus today.  Make everything else revolve around it.  Let the noise of all of the other thousand things be in the background as you work through this one thing that students need most.

Will you have to answer to why you made this choice?  Sure.  Might it cause conflict?  Yes.  But no matter what you choose to focus on will cause other things to fall to the wayside and cause the same kind of drama.  You just have to make sure the thing you choose is student-focused.  That is all that really matters.

Remember, when you are asked, “Why are you doing _______________?”  Your answer better have “students” at its core!

Students are our goal and focus.  Don’t be afraid to make a stand for them.  It will all come out in the end.  Students and their needs…their one thing each day…will never disappoint or let you down.  The short-run may hold conflict, but that conflict won’t outlast the joy of students learning and learning how to learn in your classroom.  That trumps all and will win the day in the end!

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are awesome and amazing!  I know you know how to make “one thing” choices…don’t be afraid to!  I have your back and so do all of the other teachers out there.  Student learning is never a bad focus.  Stand firm and take a stand today with it!  Never fear it!  Keep on finding those “one things” and teach on, Teachers!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, Pep Talk

a Word from the (kid) President…and Pinterest Contest

Good morning, Teachers!

I hope your week is going well.  Thank you to all of you who have commented through the blog and Edmodo to let me know what the posts here mean to you.  Really!  It keeps me motivated to find the time to post.  I truly appreciate it!

Okay, so I am a little late.  Yesterday I finally saw the Kid President message to students and teachers…sad part is, I was one of the Twitter teachers constantly hounding them to do one!  It is a great little message!  I waited until this morning to share, because I figured it would make a great mid-week, Wednesday morning message.  The way I am dragging this morning, I think I made a good choice.  🙂

Without further ado…

As a science teacher, I love his science lesson!

“You’re here.  You take up space.  You MATTER.  It’s just science, man”

So awesome!

I also loved when he said:

“We can all be awful sometimes, but we can also be awesome.  It’s time to be more awesome.  And that’s what it’s time for.”

So, let’s do that today, Teachers.  Let’s be more awesome that awful.  It is time to be more awesome.  Let every one of us be more awesome today!

In other news…

I did not create this image.  This image is from
I did not create this image. This image is from

Dear Teacher/Love Teacher has embraced Pinterest!  To celebrate, I am going to kick off a Pinterest contest.  I don’t have much to give, but I thought about it what I can give, I think, is kind of cool.  The winner of the Pinterest Contest will get a forever coupon for the TeachersPayTeachers Store.  Anything on there now and in the future is yours for free…and I am working on some cool things (I think).  I will keep the winner posted when something new comes on the store, and he or she just has to let me know if they want it and I will email it.  Like I said, it is not much, but it is something!

Here is how the contest will work:

  • Step One: You have to be on Pinterest.
  • Step Two: Follow the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Pinterest page.
  • Step Three: Create a Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Board.
  • Step Four: Pick your favorite three Dear Teacher/Love Teacher posts (or more) and pin them to the Board.
  • Step Five: Fill out the form below and in the “website” section, put the URL of your Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Board.

The contest ends on Tuesday, October 15th, and I will randomly pick a winner on Wednesday, October 16th.

Go, Pinterest!

I did not create this image.  This image is from

I did not create this image. This image is from

You are so awesome and amazing!  Have a great and wonderful day and rest of the week!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher!

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration

This is Your Life [are you who you want to be]

Dear Teacher,

It is Monday again.  Are you ready for a new week?  I think I am…but even if I am not, it is time to jump into that river of the week and ride the rapids of a week in the life of a teacher.  Ready or not, here we come, Week!  🙂

You probably know what is coming.  If you don’t, click play and then keep reading.  Okay, if you are not a Harry Potter fan, don’t watch the video, just listen.  Oh, and I have used this band before, but I love them and this song is perfect for what I want to talk about!

I have the pleasure of being a middle school science teacher at a middle school that using the teaming model – a team of teachers in the core subjects (Math, ELA, Social Studies, and Science.  There are two teams and the students in each grade are split between the two teams.  This means that I am a part of a team with the other three core teachers, and I have a cohort teacher who also teaches science in my grade level (6th grade).  This year my science cohort is a first year teacher.  For this reason, I have been having to frame up who I am as a teacher more than ever this year…and this led me to an interesting question last week.  I had the thought, if the first year version of myself had to work with the current version of me, what would he think?

Quite honestly, I would say that I probably would have been scared of the current teacher version of who I am.  Not frightened, but scared of trying to think about teaching as I do now.  I would see a lot of what I do as being risky or not making sense.  I would admire the way that I can change and adapt to situations on the fly, but the whole “working without a net” thing would scare me.

As a first year teacher, I was focused on teaching what I was given to teach.  I lived and died by the standards.  The main goal was to deliver all of the standards and make sure I taught them to the T.  No time to waste.  It was about the standards.  If the students did not learn them by the end of the year, it was not my fault.  I taught them, and I taught them well.

That mindset kind of scares the current me.

Do not get me wrong.  I still teach my standards and teach them completely, but that is not my main focus.  My focus now is on learning.  How am I teaching my students how to learn?  My curriculum decisions have shifted from how can I best deliver the standards to how can the students learn what I need to teach them and apply the learning/concepts to other subjects and the rest of their lives.  I do not know how I ever taught any other way.  Is there any other focus that should have.

Because of this focus, sometimes my classroom does not seem very science-like.  The students write more for me than they do in English sometimes.  They are up, they are moving, they are thinking outside of the box.  I re-frame the model of teaching and learning constantly, and a lot of times this causes me to spend more time than normal on the set-up for a unit.  But it is for a reason.  When the students find a reason to learn something, they are more likely to truly learn it!  This is the same reason that I will give more time on a concept than I used to…or sometimes less time…because I have changed the frame of why the students are learning it.  When you have 100% engagement, it makes the different styles and methods of teaching (and the planning that goes into them) quite worth it.

This way of teaching would have been foreign to me in my first year, and that is why a teacher like I am now would have scared me quite a bit.

I could write a lot more about the changes in my teaching, but I won’t bore you now…let me get to my point instead.  🙂

Who are you, Teacher?

Have you ever taken that cold, hard look in the mirror and asked yourself who you are as a teacher?  Would the first year version of you wonder what you are doing?  Have you changed at all?  Why do you do the things that you do?

If you are a “newbie” teacher (first three years), you can take a look in the mirror, too.  When you first started your education program, what kind of teacher did you want to be?  Are you that teacher now?  Do you see a different kind of teacher you would like to be?  What will it take to be that kind of teacher?

The most important question: Why?

I said it above, but the most important question you can ask yourself is: “Why?”  Why do you do what you do in the classroom?  Why do you make the decisions that you make?  Why do you say what you say?  Why do you use the methods and resources that you use?

You can also use “Why?” in another pivotal way.  Look at teachers who are more like you would like to me and ask them the questions.  Why do you do what you do?  Why did you do that?  Why do you say that?  Why do you use those methods and resources?  Why do you “die on the hills” that you die on with students and “fight the battles” you chose to fight.  These questions are especially important if the teacher does a lot of things that are not necessarily “live or die” parts of their standards.

“Why?” is a life-changing questions.  You need to ask it of yourself and others!

This is Your Life

This is your life, Teacher.  Are you who you want to be?  Are you making the choices that you want to make?  Are you impacting students in the ways that you wish you could?

Today is a good day to start.  Start asking “Why?” today.  Once you have your answers, start moving from there.  How can you make a future self that your current self can be proud of?  Start building that future today!

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Your are so awesome!  I know that do and will ask the hard questions.  I know that you will start to find ways to make changes.  I know that you will make a future self that other teachers will model themselves after!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…A lot of you visited my Teachers Pay Teachers store last week,  I used feedback to completely renovate the store and products.  You can now get all of my current Awesome Notes for one low price, and they are much more user friendly.  The free product is even something that I love to use.  Please check it out.  The picture in this post is one of the  notes in the megapack, by the way.  Oh, and I promise, this is the last commercial for the TpT Store for a while.  🙂

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Teaching Power, TpT Dear Teacher Store

The Power of Positive Words

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

How has your week gone?  Mine has been pretty good, just tiring.  I do think my students are learning, and that is the key to it all!  It helps me remember why I love being a teacher.  Has your week let you remember that?

Lately, I have been observing the power of words.  Words have power…both positive and negative.  Positive words can change your perspective on the world, and so can the negative ones.  Words change our minds, attitudes, perspectives, tones, and hearts.  They are, indeed, quite powerful.

I am seeing that I need to use my words more carefully.  I need to choose them with great effort and do so intentionally.  I need to do this at home, at school, with adults, but more importantly with my kids and my students…especially my students.  With my own children, I have the currency of time.  I can “undo” and “fix” issues that arise when I am not careful with my words.  This is not so much true with my students.

Do you realize that, if you are on a typical American schedule of a school year, we only get 36 weeks with our students?  That is not much time, if you really think about it.  We don’t have the time correct the effects of negative words constantly.  The time is just not there.  We need to be careful with our words!

We need to be precise with what we say.  We need to think through situations before they come.  We need to turn negative situations around in a more positive light, at least in the terms of what we say.  We need way more positive verbiage and a whole lot less negative!  We need more awesome and less awful!

We also need to take chances to use positive words when no words are needed at all.  I know, that is a confusing statement.  What I mean is that we do not need to wait for a situation to come up to use words, especially positive ones.  We should not wait for a negative situation to put positive words into, but we need to use every minute we can to fill the void of silence with as many positive words as we can!

Just in case that was not cleared up, let me give some examples.  When you pass students in the hall, find something positive to say to at least one of them, even if it is just, “I like your shoes.”  Find little reasons in your classroom to praise a student for something.  It can be as small as, “I liked the way that you got your book out without making a lot of noise, that was awesome!.”  Just tell a student they are awesome without a reason at all.  Last, but not least, finds some time to write some notes of affirmation and encouragement to students.  These are worth their weight in gold.

Handwritten notes go so far with students…well, they go far with all of us, no matter how old we are!  Everyone loves when someone takes the time to write something down about us.  I makes us feel better.  It affirms us.  It motivates us.  It moves us.  It is the same for our students.

I have written about it before, but I wrote a note to each of my students (85 of them) and each teacher and administrator at my school last year at the end of the year.  I had mixed responses from the adults, but the students were almost all the same.  They loved them.  The notes were all personal and the students knew that I took the time to write directly to them.  I did them in phases.  After the first phase, students that did not get one hounded me every day until they did.  Some students came back to me this year and said they still have them.  Words have power.

I am trying to do the same this year.  I am slowly trying to write to each student here at the beginning of the year.  Once a student gets a note, something changes between them and I.  They know longer work in my class just because they are supposed to, they work and learn because they know that I care about them.  Students need to know that we care.  They really do.

Do you let your students see how much you care?  How are you with how you use words?  Can you take the time to write some notes to your students over the next couple of weeks?  Try it.  I think you will witness the awesome power of words just like I have!

You are awesome!  I know that you care about your students.  Show them.  Tell them.  Write to them.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!  You are amazing!

Love, Teacher

PS…Another little plug.  Last year, I wrote the notes on quarter sheets of paper and note cards.  Over the summer and into the school year this year, I have been working on notes that I can print and write on the back of to give to students and teachers.  The students love them!  I have been giving stacks of them to other teachers to use, and they love using them.  I am sharing them in my TeachersPayTeachers store.  I am not asking for much.  The only reason that I am even selling them is because they do take a lot of time to make.  Please consider checking them out.  I am working on making the files more user-friendly, but they are not too bad now.  Thanks!  Oh, and the picture in this post is available as a printable note there.  Have an awesome day, week, and weekend!