Posted in A Call for Help, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers, More Than Scores, Reason for Teaching, Uncategorized

To the Moon and Back for Teachers


Dear Parent/Guardian of a K-12 student,

I usually only write to teachers to encourage them, challenge them, and give a little hope in impossible situations. However, today I have something on my mind. You and I need to have a little talk.

Every day, some teacher wakes up thinking about your child. That same teacher, and other teachers, spend the week days working with your child trying to get him or her to see the best in themselves and get that best out of them. Every night, those teachers think about what went well, what didn’t, and how to be the best teachers they can be for the sake of your child.

Even on the weekends, holidays, and over the summer, chances are that there is a teacher, and probably more than one, with thoughts about your child and how much the hope for your child’s future.

Whether you think this is happening or not, I guarantee you that it is. You may not always agree with every teacher every year, but they do have the best interest in mind for your child…and most of the time they sincerely care about your child and their past, present, and future. The ones that care the most are probably wearing themselves out for the sake of your child.

And they do this willingly.

This image belongs to http://www.dearteacherloveteacher.com. If used, credit and a link to the site is required. Thank you!

Teachers get into to teaching because they care about kids and want to help them grow in the potential they have. They love watching students become learners and critical thinkers. They love the process of learning and growth of the mind and watching students become the people they can be. This is their heart. They truly care.

This care shows up differently from teacher to teacher. Some teachers are experts at directly connecting to your child. They nurture the emotional as well as the educational side of their students. Other teachers are content magicians. They make subjects come alive to children and inspire them to pursue careers later in life out of pure joy and wonder that was instilled by a passionate teacher. Some teachers make everything about learning fun. Some share their lives and make the students invest in them as a person because they make students care. And I could go on and on…but the care that teachers have for students is real even if it looks different from class to class.

And it is the teachers that work the hardest from the point of their care for students that make the biggest difference.

I mean think back to when you were in school. Which teachers do you remember? I remember a fifth grade math teacher that made everything about math seem like the best thing in the world. I remember a middle school French teacher that made us care about French because she made learning it fun. I remember an English teacher in high school that made me care about Shakespeare because he cared so much about Shakespeare. And I had a math teacher in high school that I am friends with to this day because she cared for me as a person and invested time and energy into all of her students. I am the teacher I am today because of her.

This is what education is meant to be! Yes, content and learning is important and the common thread. But we don’t become learners because of test scores, school ratings, and comparisons to other states and countries. We become learners because of the people that inspire us to learn.

And this is why teachers want to teach.

This image belongs to http://www.dearteacherloveteacher.com. If used, credit and a link to the site is required. Thank you!

This is why I want to talk to you. The system is broken. Teachers are the scapegoats. Everything is focused on results. Teachers are constantly having more and more results-oriented work put upon them. They are forced to teach in specific ways and very little wiggle-room is allowed for decisions based on what they know about their own students.

Schools are thought of like businesses…and every minute of the day is about the end product. And time is money…so teachers have students with them at all times and the paperwork and other responsibilities are put on teachers to do on their own time (remember, the time the teachers use to think about your child and what is best for him or her). A lot of teachers do not even have the luxury of using the restroom during the school day (and this is not an exaggeration).

Teachers are tired. Teachers are exhausted. Teachers are beat up, beat down, emotionally caved in, and about to all burn-out.

Not overplaying this, in a lot of states teachers are already leaving the profession in droves and it it getting worse and worse. The best teachers are leaving. This is the canary in the coal mine. When the best, most veteran, highly thought of teachers are leaving the profession, there is a problem that looks like will not be fixed.

I get to interact with many teachers every day, and I am seeing a trend that is not going to end well for public education, and it is not going to end well for your child getting that education.

Teachers still care, but they just can’t keep going. Something has to give. Something has to change. Something has to happen or we will be soon asking where all the teachers have gone.

This is why I am writing to you, parents and guardians. You see the news. You see how teachers all over the country are fighting. They are not fighting for more money…they are fighting for the respect they deserve and to draw attention to the system that is failing your child. They are fighting for your child!

This is about more than raises, smaller class sizes, and less testing. This is about the ability and freedom to teach your child, connect with them, and help them to become real learners and adults who can make this world a better place.

Teachers want to be able to give your students the same opportunities we all had to grow and learn and explore the world and be connected to educators that make them care about what they are learning. That world barely exists anymore, and it is slowly dying. Teachers are trying to save it! But they need your help.

Please talk to teachers and learn about what is going on and their concerns about the system. Get involved and find out what is going on at the local and state level in schools and how the system is changing to help teacher or changing to hinder them. Talk to leaders and share your concerns. Join the fight with teachers at the state level and demand a system that is best for your children…and one that will inspire them to become the people you know that they can be.

This image belongs to http://www.dearteacherloveteacher.com. If used, credit and a link to the site is required. Thank you!

Fight with us…not against us. Learn what we are fighting for…it really is all about your child!

Thank you for reading! Please share and spread the word. Teachers need your help more than ever!

You rock because you care about your child’s future! Thanks for joining the fight!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Uncategorized

Ain’t No Tired Like Teacher Tired…


Dear Teacher,

It’s been a while. I am sorry about that. I have been busy…teacher busy. You know, no time for the extras in life. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but being a teacher is exhausting!

So much to do. So much to think about. So much to plan for. So much to do. Wait, did I say that already?

And that is just the school stuff. Then there is home life. Friend life. Life. Who has the time?

We do…we make the time…but we are tired. Being tired is okay. It comes with the job. But…

Make sure your tired is worth it.

Sometimes our tired comes from doing things that really, really, REALLY matter for our students (and our life). Sometimes it doesn’t.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Sometimes we are spending our time and energy on things that may not be that important. Often times, these things are given to us to do by other. Other times we give these things to ourselves.

It is easier said than done, but we have got to prioritize…and that means taking a hard look at ourselves and what we are doing. It might mean carving away things we love to do in our classroom but really aren’t making much of a difference. It might also mean taking a stand with powers that be about things that are not worth the time and energy taken away from your students.

It is hard, but you need to do it, Teacher. I need to do it. Our students can’t afford to have us burn out.

And I know you can do this. You are awesome! You are amazing. You can definitely make changes and fight battles for the sake of your students and your sanity! You can do it. I can do it. We just have to step up and do it!

I can’t be anymore specific on how to prioritize because I don’t know your situation. But I think you know the things that can and need to go. Whatever they are, I totally have your back and believe in you. I don’t want an amazing teacher like you to burnout and leave the field that needs you.

Have I mentioned that you are awesome? Well, you are!

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Thank you for all you do. Thank you for the work you put it. Thank you for fighting hard to make a difference in the life of your students. You are. You definitely are! You rock! Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Could you do me a favor and check out the new posters I created and let me know what you think? They are based on growth mindset. I tried to come up with a way to promote the mindset with my classroom walls. This is the second set of these (you can get a free preview of some of the posters from each set here). I am a big believer in promoting growth mindset…and students eyes wonder around the room anyway, why not have something on the wall to help inspire them to set goals and work hard to reach them?! Oh, and if you like them, they are on sale right now! Thanks! ūüôā

DearTeacherLT2016 - The Motivational/Growth-Mindset ABCs (volume two)
DearTeacherLT2016 – The Motivational/Growth-Mindset ABCs (volume two)

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Teacher Song, Theme Song

Hello From the Other Side (of the school year)


DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

It is almost the end of the year…I think it calls for a special post. ¬†Theme song post time!

I have actually been thinking about this one for a while. ¬†The song is “Hello” by Adele. ¬†The song is great, but lately I have started to think about my teaching life and the different versions of my teacher self throughout the school year.

What if I could call and talk to myself at the beginning of the year? ¬†What would I say? ¬†What would I hold back? ¬†Would I advise? ¬†Would I apologize? ¬†I don’t know…but I am going to give it a shot here. ¬†Please “listen in” on my conversation with myself and think about what you might say to yourself.

Oh, and I realize that this is a just a ¬†cover of the original song, but I really like this version…so click play ¬†and then¬†read on.

Hello.

It’s me.

We need to talk.

First of all, I would just like to say, you are so awesome! ¬†Your ideas and energy. ¬†It is why I teach. ¬†You know that you are going to make a difference this year, and I love you for this. ¬†Don’t lose that. ¬†Never lose that.

However…

Hello from the other side.

This is going to be a rough year.  You are going to face trials and troubles like you have never seen.  You are going to have your teaching heart broken.  You are going to want to quit.

You will really consider it.

I wish I would have gotten in touch with you sooner.

I have needed your spark and light.

There are going to be times that the spark is going to almost be extinguished and that light is going to dim.

I am sorry to tell you, but you are barely going to make it through the year alive (as a teacher).

I have barely made it.

I am barely here.

Your full-on sprint at the beginning of the year is going to taper down to where I am right now.  I am crawling to the finish line.  And I can barely breathe.  I am barely teacher living.

I am sorry for what I have done to you.

I really am.

But..

Hello from the other side.

Let me just assure of one undeniable truth.  From where I am right now, it was worth it.

I can see where our students have come from and how far they’ve come. ¬†We have made a difference. ¬†We have changed lives. ¬†We have done everything that your optimistic heart hoped and dreamed for this year. ¬†We’ve done it!

You will be completely drained, beat-up, and exhausted, but you have affected the lives of your students for forever.  Amazing things have happened in our classroom this year.  There has been magic.  There has been wonder.

Do not give up the fight.

Keep going.

Keep running.

Keep fighting.

It will all be worth it in the end!

Hello from the other side…

Thanks for reading my little message to myself.  Did you see yourself in this?  Could you have the same conversation with your beginning-of-the-year-you?

You know, no matter what happened this year, beautiful things happened in that classroom of yours.  Magic and life change did occur.  Everything you went through was worth it for the sake of your students.  To help remind you of this, I want to close this note to you with a few more teachers stories of classroom beauty and magic that happened this year.  And if you would like to share a story of wonder from your classroom, you can do so here.

Teacher Michelle – Kindergarten

I work hard on creating a family out of my class of kindergarteners. They come from very low income homes and have very rough lives. In my classroom we work hard on creating relationships and bonding.It can get really hard, but the rewards are worth it.

Recently a child in my class won a ticket to Six Flags for being the only one who completed the required minutes of reading and turned the paper in. when i announced it to my class, i honestly expected to hear a lot of whining and “why didnt I get one!?” But INSTEAD… when i made the announcement my ENTIRE CLASS began applauding and shouting out “good job!” and “good for you!”

That was the day I knew we were a family.

Teacher Joanne – High School (Retired)

I retired from full time teaching and now work as an office manager for a national tax preparation company.
During the season, I was assisting a client who was accompanied by one of my former students, a friend of hers. She asked him if he had done his taxes yet, and he said, “Oh yes, Ms. Maura taught us all about it in finance class.” I wanted to hug him, but I said, “Thank God someone was paying attention that day!” I won’t also mention all of the greetings I get in the community (I live in the city where I taught for 20+ years).

Teacher Alice – High School

My first year of teaching was a challenging experience, as it is for many teachers. I was teaching 6-7 periods a day, and my classes were mutli-leveled ESL classes. In one class, I had everything from a level one (absolute beginner) to 5 (advanced, ready to transition to mainstream) in the same class. I struggled mightily.

At the end of the year, I assigned the students to write a thank you letter to someone in the building that had made a difference for them during the year. One sweet, upper level student, who had been an immense help to me in that challenging class, placed her note on my desk at the end of the class and told me to open it. The text of the note read, “thank you, thank you, thank you! One thank you for all you taught me this year, one thank you for being there for me, and one thank you for how you change my life. Always remember this, Miss: stars need darkness to shine. I may not know how to write a letter, but I know there is not a wrong way to say thank you.” I sat at my desk and bawled.

Teacher, you are making a difference and have done amazing work this year! ¬†You are so awesome! ¬†Please know that everything you went through this year was worth. ¬†You have had a greater effect than you will ever know. ¬†Thanks for all that you do! ¬†Hold on…the year is almost over! ¬†Keep on doing the incredible things you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Dear Teacher/Love Teacher is looking for a little help. ¬†Check this out for more information. ¬†Thanks!

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Thank You!

What You Deserve, Teacher…


Dear Teacher,

You do so much. ¬†I don’t mean that as a meaningless platitude because it is Teacher Appreciation Week. ¬†I mean that as someone who knows. ¬†Someone who has and is living the life of a teacher. ¬†You do so very much!

It is almost inconceivable how much that you do for your students, your students’ families, your coworkers, your administration, your family, your friends, and…sometimes, every once in a while, on the rare occasion…for yourself…though, that is seriously not as often as it should be. ¬†You live and breathe for others. ¬†And you do it because you have a heart for others, especially your students.

You do so much!

And there is not much that you get in return; at least not tangible things. ¬†This is something you are okay with. ¬†You are because you are doing what you do for something bigger. ¬†You are working for the lives and future of your students…which is what matters most to you.

You do deserve more, though.

In all honesty, you do deserve more money for all that you do.  You deserve more respect from others.  You deserve more recognition for the extra miles that you go.  You deserve more freedom and autonomy within the system because you do know what you are doing most of the time.  With that, you deserve the trust that you can make good decisions for the sake of your students.  And the list could go on and on.

You are a great teacher and you deserve more than you get!  

You deserve more and you know it…but this is not what is important to you. ¬†What is important is that you impact your students lives and help them become the amazing people that they can be one day. ¬†This is what makes you awesome. ¬†You know you deserve more, but that is not what drives you. ¬†Your students drive you. ¬†And this is one of the many reasons you deserve more.

We both know that the “more” may never come. ¬†But there is one thing that I can offer you. ¬†I can offer you a thank you.

Really, really, really, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, Teacher.

I thank you for all that you do. ¬†I thank you for the things that you do that you don’t have to. ¬†I thank you for your heart. ¬†Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

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

I thank you as a fellow teacher who you serve as an example for.  I thank you as a parent who has teachers that are like you and are influenced by you.  And I thank you as a citizen of the world because you really are making the future better.

Teacher, I can not give you all that you deserve, and for this I am sorry. ¬†But I do promise to always try to thank you…even when it is not Teacher Appreciation Week. ¬†A thank you is something you deserve every day! ¬†I will do my best to try.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are an amazingly awesome teacher!  Thank you for teaching on even though you do not get everything you deserve!  You are making a difference and changing lives.  Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers, More Than Scores, Note to Teachers, Uncategorized

Assesments, You, & Your Students


Dear Teacher,

It is here: Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation Season.

It comes around every year.  No one loves it, but it is a harsh reality that will probably not go away any time soon.

Students must be tested.  Learning must be assessed.  Teaching must be evaluated.  How else will accountability happen in education?  Right?

Why do I hear crickets after asking the question?

Oh yeah, no one wants to talk about it. ¬†Okay, so I won’t either. ¬†I just want to remind you about something.

You and your students are way more than just an assessment or evaluation result. ¬†The learning and growing that happens in your classroom can’t be measured by a standardized test and/or rubric.

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DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

The true measurement of what happened in the classroom can only be experienced. ¬†You have to know where the students were when they came to you in the beginning of the year…not just academically and according to standards, but also socially, emotionally, and ownership of learning. ¬†These things are hard to standardize…no, they are impossible to standardize.

So…DON’T LOSE HEART ABOUT TESTING AND¬†EVALUATIONS!

I know there is a lot tied to them…but breathe. ¬†Relax. ¬†Remember that the true worth in what happens in your classroom is in the results of the growth that is clear in the students that leave your classroom at the end of the year.

You can’t control the assessment process, but you can control how you react to it.

Don’t put all of your stock in the assessments and evaluations. ¬†Instead, take stock of what has happened and the change you have seen in your students…even if it is just a little bit of change in some students, you can celebrate it! ¬†A win is a win.

Reflect on what you have seen in each student.  Write it down.  Point it out to them.  Let them see the growth as you take time to see it, too.  Make sure they know that this is the true measurement of learning in your class.  This will help you and your students find a bit of joy here in the stressful season at the end of the year.

What have you seen and can celebrate? 

  • A student who asks questions more?
  • Someone who follows instructions more often?
  • Homework being done a little more often?
  • Effort being put in where it wasn’t before?
  • Finishing work and not giving up?
  • An increase in success for some students?
  • Waiting more often and taking turns?
  • Someone who has stopped being mean to others?
  • The list could go on and on, but I think you get it.

You are an excellent and amazing teacher.  I have no doubt you know how to measure the learning and change in your classroom.  This is just a little nudge to get back to what you know and to find joy at the end of what has been a trying and tough year.

You have done a great job this year!  Your students are changing.  They are different students than came to you at the beginning.  You are the one to thank for that!  You have stuck it out with them.  You have put in the effort and tears.  You have done whatever it takes to see that change.  Celebrate it.  You really are an awesome teacher!

Don’t let the testing and evaluations get you bogged down. ¬†You and your students are more than scores. ¬†You are learners and learning HAS happened this year . ¬†You are the reason that it has…and this means that you rock!

Thank you for all you do!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Testing

The 800 Lbs Gorilla in Your Classroom


Image: Wikimedia Commons

Dear Teacher,

I so try to avoid this issue here. ¬†It is something that we all deal with. ¬†It’s something I think most of us feel the same way about. ¬†It is a reality of teaching that we all just kind of “deal” with and try not to let it get us too down.

However, this time of year it is hard to avoid, and I think it is getting to a point that we won’t have any choice but to really talk about it.

Testing.

Standardized testing…state testing…MAP testing…testing to prepare for testing…benchmarks to help us test to prepare for testing…quizzing to help us no where students are before benchmarking progress towards testing…

Testing, testing, testing.

It is an unfortunate requirement of the teaching life in the system we are currently in.

I will probably one day have no choice but to write some of my opinions on all of this, but that is not my goal for the day.

No, my goal is you.

Testing season is one of the most trying times of the year for teachers…know that you are not alone in how you feel right now. ¬†And, it is not because it is hard to test students or difficult to keep their attention during reviews (which it can be). ¬†Testing season is tough because we have to separate our teaching mind from our teaching heart.

I heard someone say or read something someone said recently (I don’t remember which), “Why do we work so hard to differentiate instruction for each student just to prepare them for standardized tests?” ¬†I think they were being tongue-in-cheek and making a joke, but it really is a good question!

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) ... oh, and this was made using www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) … oh, and this was made using http://www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!

If research shows that differentiated instruction leads to deeper learning, understanding, and memory, wouldn’t follow through that testing should be differentiated so students can show what they have really learned?

There is so much I could say here about this, but I will save it for another time.  I think you see what I mean.  There is this part of us that really wants to see our students succeed.  It is this drive that pushes us to find ways that help each student learn.  This is our heart.  We want our students to become the people we know that they can be.

Then there is this other side of us that wants (or is forced to need by the system) evidence to prove how much our students are learning. ¬†This is where standardized testing fits in. ¬†It is the way that we have been given to provide that evidence. ¬†If they can answer questions the same way other students do, then they have learned…or so we are told.

Image: flickr.com

Because this is the measure we are using (whether we like it or not), we want to see our students do well on the tests…and this is where the problem lies…

In order for us to prepare our students for the tests so they can do well, we need them to take tests like the one they will take. ¬†Some students do this better than others, so we scaffold and differentiate instruction in test taking. ¬†We need to prepare for all variances in vocabulary on the test, so we drill, drill, drill. ¬†We need to make sure that students know how to find wrong answers, too, so they can eliminate them. ¬†So we practice, practice, practice. ¬†Also, we need to see real results on how students are progressing toward the test, so we test, test, test…and so the cycle goes on…and on…and on.

All of this takes time. ¬†We have to cut out some of the time we want to take for teaching content. ¬†We have to cut corners and cut back. ¬†We have to teach content in limited ways to buy time. ¬†Differentiation of instruction becomes more and more standardized…

And this breaks our teaching heart when we realize this is what we are doing…but not doing this means that some students may not do as well on the tests…and we are torn.

I don’t have an answer for this. ¬†I just want to let you know that you really are not alone in this. ¬†We are all feeling this tension. ¬†It is hard. ¬†It make teaching less of a passion and more of a job…and our heart breaks more for this.

Don’t give up, Teacher! ¬†Trust your teaching heart. ¬†Do what is right for your students! ¬†This is the only advice I know to give right now. ¬†You can never go wrong in trusting what you know about your students and letting that drive your decisions. ¬†Students first!

Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs https://goo.gl/wU4BW9
Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs
https://goo.gl/wU4BW9

You know what your students need because you know them and have been fighting hard to differentiate for each one all year – don’t start doubting yourself now!

I know that you try to do what is best for those souls in your room everyday. ¬†This is what makes you a great teacher! ¬†You are doing a great job! ¬†Keep on doing what you feel is what is needed. ¬†Don’t doubt yourself! ¬†You are amazing and doing an amazing job! ¬†Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Thank you for all that you do!  You are awesome and you rock!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Choose Positive, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers

Teacher, I See Your True Colors


Dear Teacher,

I really wanted to write to you this morning. ¬†I know that this has been a difficult and trying time for you. ¬†This time of the year usually is. ¬†I have been thinking and trying to come up with some way to remind you how awesome you are and encourage you to keep going and keep fighting…and I did.

It is time for something I haven’t done in a while – a theme song post. ¬†If you have never read one of my theme song posts, all you have to do is click play on the video and read. ¬†If you can’t read with music on, listen to the song and then read. ¬†Got it? ¬†Good! ¬†Let’s go!

Teacher…no one really knows but us what it is like. ¬†Teaching is one of the roughest roads that someone can choose to go down. ¬†It has a bright destination, but it sure can be a dark path sometimes. ¬†There is no sugar-coating it. ¬†Teaching is tough.

As teachers, we are fighting for the lives and futures of our students.  That is no small thing.  With just that, we are battling some pretty scary and menacing enemies.

Image Source: Wikipedia

On top of that, add the fact that we have “friendly enemies.” ¬†Well meaning people who are trying to make education better are making it quite difficult to do what we need to do to reach those minds in our classrooms.

And then there is the standardize testing…and I will just leave that without comment. ¬†Too much to say…

It can feel like the job of teacher is an impossible task…and it is…it is for anyone besides you.

Listen, Teacher, you were and are cut out for this.  You are amazing!

In everything mentioned above, you keep going.  You keep trying.  You keep fighting.  Because in your heart of hearts you know that you were made for this.

You are a fighter and this is your battle.

It can be¬†a long, grueling skirmish…the enemies surround you…you feel alone in the fight…

But something clicks in for you. ¬†You remember who you are fighting for…and it is not for you. ¬†It is for people, young people, who can’t fight for themselves. ¬†This sparks something deep inside of you and gives you the will and strength to forge ahead.

This is who you are.  These are your true colors.

Not everyone can see them, but I do. ¬†They are shining through…and they are shining brightest in the lives of your students now and tomorrow.

Those true colors are beautiful.  Like a rainbow.

Image: Wikipedia Commons
Image: Wikipedia Commons

You are making a difference, Teacher!  The stands you make are worth it.  The time, energy, and tears are planting seeds in the minds of your students.  And those seeds are growing!

Don’t lose heart, Teacher. ¬†Don’t give up. ¬†You are fighting a good fight. ¬†Keep on fighting and keep on teaching! ¬†You rock!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers

What Great Teachers Do Everyday


Dear Teacher,

So I have told you much about my new position as a teacher this year. ¬†This post is not about that, but I currently work at my district’s science center as a STEM teacher. ¬†In this job I get to come into contact with many of the students in the district and areas near by, but more than that I get to see many, many teachers in action with students. ¬†I get to talk to them and find out how things are going and what is working for them. ¬†This is one of my favorite things about my job.

Let me just say, I have been able to meet and interact with some great teachers.  Some really, really excellent teachers.  And I have been impressed and humbled by them.  I do not know if I was in the same league as some of them when I was still in the classroom.  Seriously.

They all have many different traits, but I have been able to observe some commonalities between them. ¬†It seems like there is a “formula” to being a great teacher. ¬†However, I do not know how much it can be learned versus natural ability and personality. ¬†They are not the kind of things that fit on a lesson plan, but, even so, some things are worth practicing and trying!

Image Source: http://www.adoptaclassroom.org via http://www.facebook.com.

The number one thing that I noticed among the great teachers I have met is that they know each of their students and have individual ways of interacting with each. ¬†I don’t know if this makes sense. ¬†What I mean is that their way of talking with and helping each student seems to be differentiated to the personality of each student. ¬†This does not come easy. ¬†This means knowing each student as an individual and know how to bring the best out of each. ¬†This is an amazing feat and trait. ¬†There is a video being passed around Facebook of a basketball coach and his team that shows this better than I can explain.

I love this video.  I have probably watched it at least 20 times.  The time it took him to know his players and develop these handshakes was probably enormous, but the relationship building that happened was priceless.  This is the kind of individualizing and differentiation I see among the great teachers.  Not necessarily with handshakes, but with the way that they approach each student.

The second common trait of great teachers I have seen is a willingness to put students first, even over schedules and non-essential policies.  Great teachers see what students need and bend the rigidness of their structure (or schedule) to make sure that learning happens or needs are met.  This is hard to explain much further because it depends on the situation on what this means, but I can give an example.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

When I see classes of students, it is usually in the form of a field trip to the science center.  There is a pretty tight schedule between arrival, labs, lunch, and departure.  Most teachers try to stick to that schedule, and rightfully so.  However, some of the great teachers work around the schedule a bit when their students are on the edge of making some real connections with content or concepts.  Some teachers will sacrifice a few minutes of lunch or be willing to take the fall for making the bus wait for them for a few minutes.  They know that what the students are doing at the center is worthwhile, and they are willing to take flack for the sake of their kids.  And I am sure this applies to situations in their classrooms, as well.

The next thing that seems to be a commonality between great teachers is that they do not waste one teachable moment.  The greatest teachers always have a way of making learning happen everywhere.  No situation is without something to spark curiosity, review concepts, or teach about life in general.  Learning is a way of life for those teachers, and so is teaching.  And it happens in every moment of the day is some little way.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Great teachers also always make great strides in making sure that everything connects. ¬†Just like learning happens everywhere for these teachers, learning is also connected to other things and never stands alone. ¬†You have to make every minute count, and that means that students need to see that content and concepts are connected. ¬†Math relates to science which relates to social studies which relates to ELA…or any combination of this…and all of it connects to students lives and the world at-large. ¬†This come back to making every moment a teachable moment. ¬†If there is a connection that can be made between things that students need to learn, great teachers make sure that they try to help their kids connect those dots.

Last, but definitely not least, great teachers all tend to make sure that students see the impossible as being possible. ¬†I am not talking things that are physically impossible like putting on a cape and flying, but the things that students see as impossible that are actually quite possible. ¬†Students that struggle in reading can be great readers. ¬†Students who don’t know their multiplication facts yet can be great math students. ¬†Students who see school as a place where they can’t live up to the expectation can survive, thrive, and love learning. ¬†Great teachers help students see what is impossible to them as possible and help them do the work to make the impossible possible. ¬†Great teachers help students past their failures and through the work it takes to be a success. ¬†It takes time, effort, and determination, but these teachers stop at nothing to make it happen.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

There are many other aspects of great teachers and great teaching, but I think these five are very attainable by all of us. ¬†Does it take hard work? ¬†Yes. ¬†Are we going to have to make decisions that are “off plan?” ¬†Sure we will. ¬†Will we take flack for the choices we make? ¬†You better believe it. ¬†Will it be worth it for the lives and futures of our students? ¬†More than we will ever know!

So, as you write your lesson plans, remember the things that don’t quite fit on the plans. ¬†The needs, personalities, and futures of your students. ¬†Remember what comes first. ¬†Don’t be afraid to leave the lesson plans and fly without a net from time to time. ¬†It’s what great teachers do…and I have a feeling you are one of those great teachers! ¬†Do remember, though, that the impact you make by doing these things may not be something you see for quite a while…but you will be making a lasting impact.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are an amazing teacher!  I know that you put students first.  Know that this is what makes you a great teacher!  Keep doing what you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS… A quick update. ¬†After I wrote this yesterday, I saw this video posted on Facebook. ¬†This is a great teacher. ¬†She gets it. ¬†Students are more than can be measured (especially measured by a test and a formula of how much computer time they “need”). ¬†She is a great teacher…we can talk later about how so many of the great teachers seem on the verge of giving up.

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk

An Open Letter to Teachers…Don’t Lose Hope


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

Dear Teacher,

You are beat up and beat down.  You are worn out.  You are worn down.  This has been one of the toughest and roughest years of your career.

You don’t know if you can do this anymore.

Somewhere in and through the stress of students, parents, administration, and the system, you have lost sight of why you are doing this. ¬†You don’t see the difference you intended to make. ¬†You can’t see the forest. ¬†You can’t see the trees. ¬†You only see dwindling patience, one more student that doesn’t have a pencil, and another email about lesson plans that you haven’t turned in yet.

You are at the end of your rope and it is becoming more and more tempting to just let go.

You are losing your grip.

While you contemplate how much the fall will hurt, can I just tell you something…well, a few somethings?

First thing that you need to know is that you are absolutely, one hundred and fifty percent not alone. ¬†More teachers feel this way this year than don’t, I think. ¬†It is a common thought and feeling.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Even if it doesn’t fee like it, other teachers are¬†going through¬†exactly what you are right now. ¬†Probably other teachers in your school…most likely the teacher in the room next door.

I know it is kind of messed up that a lot of teachers are in the same boat…but at least you don’t have to be alone in this.

And that is great, but what do we do about it?

We need to remember that the education system is not why we got into this business…we went through the trouble of becoming a teacher because we actually care about students and their future. ¬†The system is what is wearing us out, but the students are who are keep us in.

Unfortunately, we are bound by the system.  How do we work within it to make the biggest difference in the lives of those learners in our classrooms?

I think it all comes down to spending a bit of time before each school day remembering why we teach.  It means thinking about each student (or some of them each day, if you teach multiple classes).  We have to remember that each of those souls are people and that we actually care about them and where they are going in life.

If we do that, it will lead us to think more carefully about our decisions in the classroom.  We will be driven to take stands for what is best for students.  We will fight for what is right.  We will truly differentiate for each child and what they need from us.

As that happens, our teacher heart will start to beat again.  We will find our passion again for teaching.  We will be ready to change the world all over again.

I know this is all easier said than done, but I think it is time we start doing what we know needs to be done. ¬†I think it is time to be brave and bold…for our students good and for ours.

You are a TEACHER!  You actually do know what you are doing most of the time.  You know your students and care about their lives.  You know how to make classroom decisions.  You are courageous!  You are strong!  You are intelligent!  You matter to the future of your students and you are making a difference!

Remember why you do what you do and that you are not alone in this.  Be brave and do what needs to be done.  You will be happier in the long-run because you are doing what are made for!

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are amazing! ¬†You are awesome! ¬†Thank you for all that you do! ¬†Remember that you can do anything for a year, and this year is almost done. ¬†You’ve got this! ¬†Don’t give up! ¬†Keep on persevering and keep on teaching, Teacher! ¬†You rock!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, You Are Awesome!!!

‘Twas the Week Before Break…


Dear Teacher,

I know this week is full of excitement and anxiety…excitement for the students and anxiety for you. ¬†How are you going to keep their attention? ¬†How are you going to keep your attention? ¬†How can you contain and focus the craziness that is the week before Winter Break?

I don’t have a lot of advice for you. ¬†You have to find what works best for you, your students, and your situation. ¬†However, I did write a fun little poem a couple of years ago that will give you a little laugh as you face this week. ¬†I thought I would share it again this year. ¬†It is based on the poem,¬†‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. ¬†Have a little giggle and enjoy!

‘Twas the Week/Day Before Break

‘Twas the day before break, when all through the classroom,
Each creature was stirring; the teacher, too, I assume;
The students were antsy and moving here and there;
In hopes that the clock would move faster if they just stare;
The administration was nestled all snug in their offices;
With having visions of no calls about students from all of us;
And you in your holiday sweater and matching cap,
Just want to settle your brain for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the hall there arose such a clatter,
You sprang from your chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the door you flew like a flash,
Spun doorknob and moved the door with a crash.
The fluorescent light from the hallway gave off quite a glow,
You looked left and right to see what you could know,
When the noise that had traveled to your wondering ear,
Helped you realize that it was the bell that you did hear.
The end of the day really did come so  quick,
It was just like a present from dear old St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles the students they came,
And they hustled and shouted, and you called them by name:
“Now, students! bye-bye students! Bye you wonderful children!
Bye, students! ¬†Do be careful as you leave this dear buildin’!
To the top of the hallway! to the top of the hall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As papers and dust in their happy wake fly,
When they meet with their bus they jump in not shy;
And back to their houses with them the bus oh it flew
With all of the girls and boys, and their energy too‚ÄĒ
And then, in a twinkling, I heard you so true
Your prancing and dancing to your door as you did shoo.
You got in your car without turning around,
Down the parking lot you and your car were home-bound.
The school, in your rear view got smaller by¬†¬†sight‚ÄĒ
‚ÄúHappy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!‚ÄĚ
Have a wonderful holiday break, you amazing Teacher! ¬†You rock and you deserve the break. ¬†Don’t forget to relax and enjoy your friends and family!
Love, Teacher