Posted in Dream Big, General Inspiration, More Than Scores, Note to Teachers

A Teacher’s Gift – What the World Gives and Gets…


Dear Teacher,

I had an epiphany this week.  I wish I would have had this mind-blown moment years ago…it is going to revolutionize the way I think about teaching and my role as a teacher.  I am almost ashamed to admit it, though.  I have worked with teachers who live this out every day.  It just didn’t sink in and click in for me until this week.

This mind-storm (pun intended…LEGO fans) was initiated by two things: a documentary about the man behind Segway scooters (and FIRST Robotics) and the story of LEGO Africa.  The documentary is about Dean Kamen and how he is trying to solve the world’s clean water problem (which I think he might just do!).  If you have Netflix, you really need to watch it; it’s called SlingShot.  LEGO Africa is a program started by a 6 year-old boy with an idea and his father to send LEGO to schools and communities in Africa.  It is an amazing program!  I will share a video at the end about it.

Before that, I need to get back to my epiphany.  Are you ready for it?

Teaching is not about teaching.

Now that I write it out, it doesn’t make sense.  Maybe I need to add to this a little to fill in the gaps of thought.  Let me try again.

Education is not about teaching…

The true heart of being an educator is not about delivering content…the internet does that on it’s own just fine (before that we had little things called books and encyclopedias).  It is not about helping students learn the ins-and-outs and nuts-and-bolts of the world.  It is not about making students feel better and increase their self-esteem (not that this is not important, but it is not the main goal of teaching).  It is not wrapped up in the art of presenting and knowing all of the cool ways to use technology breakthroughs to be the best at it.  It is not, obviously, about planning, grading, and keeping up with the latest and greatest PD.  No, the role of being a teacher is not all about these things that define being a teacher in our society.

Education is much, much more than teaching.

At the core of education is something very much deeper than teaching.  It is something almost indescribable.  It is something we can’t put our finger on or even quite know for certain from where we stand.  It is something that is vital to our planet more than ever, I believe, and the world that know won’t survive without it.

Education is about the future.

It is not about the here and now.  It is not, quite frankly, about us.  It is, however, the very heart and soul of generations to come.  Our role as educators, especially the teachers at the front lines, is to prepare the leaders of tomorrow to solve the problems of today and make the world a better place.  It is all about making tomorrow better without knowing what it will bring.

No pressure.

I actually am kidding there.  It is slightly stressful to think about, but at the same time it is also freeing.  It really lets you take stock of your true purpose in the classroom.  You can drop back, reflect on all that you do, and then start fresh with a new perspective and drive.

A quick disclaimer…

As I continue, please know that I realize that content is important for all of this, but I am thinking more about our reasons and thoughts behind teaching content.  What are we doing it for?  Do we have a bigger purpose?  I do believe there is a great picture here.

It is all about equipping leaders, thinkers, and doers.

Our job is to help students become who they need to be to lead the world to a better place than it is right now.  We are making leaders that will look at what is going on and be determined to find ways to fix it.  We are developing the thinkers that will be able to look at problems with fresh eyes and see new solutions to age-old problems.  We are training doers that aren’t afraid to get dirty and do the work that needs to be done to clean up the messes that have been made.  We are changing the world…but only from a distance.

Image Source: Pinterest.com
Image Source:
Pinterest.com

So how, pray-tell, do we do this?

We have to come to our role as educators from a different perspective.  We have to ask some hard questions:

  • Are we giving our students practice at solving real problems and making this the reason that content is needed?
  • Are we telling students how to learn or giving them opportunities to need to learn and find how they do that best on their own (with a lot of scaffolding)?
  • Are we honest with students about what is going on in the world at-large and giving them opportunities to think up ways to help contribute to solutions?
  • Are we giving students chances to think outside of themselves and show compassion to others (or at least to empathize with them)?
  • Are we allowing students the time and space to work on ideas for helping others or solving problems in their communities?

I could go on and on, but I think you get it.

If you teach using PBL, than you have already thought through a lot of this.  I do challenge you to keep thinking and questioning your true motives for how you teach…is it really about the future or getting the content in?

I am pretty sure that if you are reading this, you already think on this level.  I just really wanted to share my thoughts on all of this today.

It truly hit home for me this week that there is a real world out there with so many problems that our students are going to have to grow up and solve.  We need to start them thinking about this all now and giving them the opportunities to start working through it.  They may already be able to come to better conclusions than we have!

To sum this really long post up…the Teacher’s gift is the future.  It is ours to mold and take care of, but it is also ours to give.  How are you doing with that gift?

You are awesome!  I know you already think on these terms.  Thanks for reading as I verbal process these thoughts and reflect on them!  You really are making a difference and you are most definitely changing the future for the good!  You rock!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…

Here is the LEGO Africa video:

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Posted in Challenge, Dream Big, Picture Note, The Power of Creativity

Motivational Moth


(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to this blog.)

Dear Teacher,

You see lessons all around you.  It is a part of the gift of teaching!  You see something, hear something, smell something, feel something, or even taste something and you think of what your students can learn from it.  This makes you awesome!  Find a real world example to teach from today.  Ideas are all around you, reach out and grab one!  Find something and write a quick lesson idea using it.  Your students will thank you later!

You are awesome!  You are amazing!  You are incredibly creative!  Create something for your students today from what is around you!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…While I am at a training this week, I need your help.  Please share this link in your Edmodo communities and groups, share on Facebook, share on Twitter, and where ever else you can!  Spread the encouragement because I can’t!  Thanks!  You are awesome!  🙂

Posted in Dream Big, Facebook Page, Thank You!, TpT Dear Teacher Store, Twitter Feed

Practicing What I Teach


(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use this picture if you link back to my blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use this picture if you link back to my blog.)

Dear Teacher,

Good morning!  Well, last month and yesterday I encouraged you to celebrate the little things about your teaching and students to help you stay focused when the going get tough.  When I first posted about this, I celebrated some of the “little things” about this blog, but I did not yesterday.  I really need to.  Now that I am in the heat of planning some big dreams for next year, trying to find fresh ideas to write is not as easy.

As a teacher, I am encouraged and all but required to be a data analyzer (it helps that this a part of science, and I am a science teacher).  So when I look at the numbers for the blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Teachers Pay Teachers store, I tend to get to discouraged when those numbers are not growing consistently…which is the same thing I feel about student test scores and grades throughout the year.  The lack of growth adds to the stress of coming up with new and innovative ways to spread encouragement and hope to you and to others through you.

I need to stop stress and remember why I started this whole thing and then take a look at the numbers from that perspective and start having some little (and big) celebrations over those things.  I have only been doing this for about six and a half weeks, and the growth of this blog and encouragement movement in that little bit of time is phenomenal!  I need to just keep doing what I am doing and not care about the numbers!

That said, let me celebrate some of the “numbers” and good things that are going on with Dear Teacher/Love Teacher…

The Blog:

  • In just 6.5 weeks (1.5 of them I was gone for), the site is approaching 19,000 views…that is insane in such a short time!  Thank you for reading and sharing!
  • The Homepage/Archives, along, has had nearly 3,000 views!  That is huge!
  • One post, Why (Did I Become a Teacher)?,  has had 700 views by itself!  It was one of the guest blogs during my sabbatical time from the site.
  • The Thank You Note You May Never Get is another post that is nearing 700 views (and growing a little more each day)!
  • Two other posts have over 550 views!  (Friday of Awesomeness and The Eye of the Teacher…er…Tiger)
  • The blog itself (not counting Facebook and Twittter followers) has 79 followers (33 bloggers and 46 through email).  This does not count RSS followers, because I am not currently tracking that.  This is an amazing number!  Thank you for following and thinking this is important enough to follow!
  • There have been 279 shares so far (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Email, and WordPress Blogs)!  That is a big part of the success of the blog, your shares!  Thank you so much for sharing the encouragement with others!  That is kind of the point of this whole thing!

Facebook Page:

  • In less than a month, there has been 133 Likes for the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher FB Page!  Thank you!
  • The number of likes almost tripled over the weekend because of people sharing!  Thanks so much!
  • The FB page has allowed me to share other forms of encouragement besides blog posts, and that has given me some freedom from the stress of new ideas for the blog.  This is quite great for me!

Twitter:

  • There are currently 61 Twitter followers!  Thank you for following!
  • Twitter has given me new ways to connect with you and for people to share what is going on here!
  • I have also been allowed to find a great deal of sources to share with you to help give you hope, encouragement, and challenges to make you a better teacher.  I have enjoyed getting to know Twitter a bit!

Teachers Pay Teachers Store

  • Getting this set up and learning the ropes has been a slight challenge for me, but I think I finally have it figured out!
  • The Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Store is now officially re-opened!  It is a place for you to get some real resources to help you be a source and conduit of hope for teachers and students at your school and where ever you go!
  • All of my picture messages up until Tuesday (I think) are now available as a free resource at the store!  They are the original images that you can use to print and share with other teachers!
  • I have created an “Awesome Note” that comes in a variety of sizes (both b&w and color, too) that you can print and use to send messages of hope and encouragement to those who need them.  This is on sale for $1 for a limited time!
  • These are the only two available items right now, but I am working on more!

Well, all I can say is thank you!  This has been an amazing ride for the last six and half months, and I look forward to many, many more!  Thank you, again, for supporting and joining this encouragement revolution!

You are so awesome!  I am honored to help encourage you as you give out your awesome to others!  You are an amazing teacher.  As always, keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…

Here some quick encouragement for you, since my post probably encouraged me more than you!  🙂  Thank you, Teachers!