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

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

So Close…Never Give Up..


Whale – Watched… HuffingtonPost

Dear Teacher,

I saw this in an article this morning and just had to share.  It made me think of you.  Yes, it is a real picture.  The whale-watchers had no idea they were being whale-watched!

Sometimes we are so close with helping our students turn a corner.  Sometimes it is remarkably close, and we just don’t know it.  This is why we can’t give up.  This is why we must keep going.

Our students are getting it.  We are making a difference.  Keep going, Teacher!  Keep teaching!  You are so awesome!

Have a great break!  Relax and recharge those batteries!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Theme Song

Move Along (like I know you do)


(c)DearTeacherLT2013
(c)DearTeacherLT2013

Dear Teacher,

If we were to chose an anthem for the life of a teacher, I think this song should at least be on the ballot.  It definitely sums up how I feel right now.  We have so much to do.  We hit so many roadblocks, but still we keep moving.

Click play and then read on.

You are tired…so am I.

You have too much to do…so do I.

You are behind on grading…so am I.

You have assignments/tests to put together and paper work to finish…so do I.

You are a teacher and you have teacher things to do (like them or not) and so do I.

We can’t possibly get them all done, can we?

On top of all of this, there are countless classroom conundrums, people and personality problem, and irritating individual issues that we have to work through day after day after day (after day).

We have those students that like to get under our skin…and they like to stay there.

We have coworkers who can make our work more difficult.

We have family and family things that are also apart of our lives (we have lives outside of school?).

We are overwhelmed.

We are over-worked.

We are over it.

What do we do?

We move along.

Yep.  We move along.

A part of teaching, one of the biggest parts in my opinion, is the art of moving along.  We find a way to keep our head down and plow on through the difficult times and situations of teacherhood.  We focus.  We prioritize.  We move along.

How do you move along when you don’t feel like you can?

I am not sure how you move along, but I do know that somehow you have to find a way.  I know for me it is just picking what I know is vital, what I know I can control, what I know I can take care of and then letting the rest go, do the minimum, or get help.  I find a way to get through it.

Don’t give in to the “I can’t do this” part of you.  You CAN do this.  You CAN survive.  You CAN move along.

Move along, like I know you CAN.

Even when your hope is gone, move along.

All you’ve got to keep is strong…move along.

Move along, like I know you do.

I do not know what you are going through, Teacher, but you CAN make it through it.  You CAN keep going.  You CAN move along.  So move along.

Keep your focus on your students.  Remember why you are here.  Remember that it is about changing your students’ lives and futures.  It is about them learning and learning to learn on their own.  It is all about them.  When you focus on the goal of your students and their needs, you CAN move along.

Move along.

I know you CAN.

You are awesome.  You do move along.  You get through the tough times.  Keep moving.  Keep going.  Keep teaching, Teacher.  You are amazing!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Poster/Graphic, Reflection, Thank You!

The Thankful Teacher


(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,

I was going to take a break from writing over Thanksgiving break, but I had a rough day on Tuesday (the last day of school for me before break) so I have been reflective.  My reflections have been some thoughts that I really feel like I should write down.  Writing helps me process them and will make them real to me.  I decided to write them to you because, maybe, you are going through something similar and need some similar encouragement and thoughts.

This is one of those times that I am writing to myself and letting you listen in.  Eavesdrop away, Teacher.

Too often I let myself get wrapped up in the actions, behavior, and/or attitude of one or a small handful of students.  I let this small cluster change my day and change my attitude because of these students.  I let this affect how I am feeling and change my behavior, actions, and reactions towards other students and my coworkers.  I let this make me feel like a failure.  I let this make me feel like a bad teacher.  I let this make me doubt my choices the led to becoming a teacher at all.

These feelings do not last long, but they are nonetheless real.  The feelings do affect me.  They really do.  Even if they are short-lasted, they do take a toll on me from time to time.

I know I shouldn’t let this happen.  I know that letting one or a few students make me go down this road is not productive.  But it happens.  Every year.  At least once or twice.  The cycle begins and I have to work through it.

If I know that this cycle is not productive, why do I keep letting myself get forced into it?  Do I have to go through this cycle?  Do I have to let the few students affect how I am with the many other students that are learning and doing the right things every day?  Do I need to go through this cycle of doubt and wonder about my choices?

If not, how do I avoid it?

Don’t get me wrong, reflection and analyzing what we do and say is important.  It is vital.  I am not saying that.  I know that doubt can make you stronger when you work through it.  I am just talking about the cycle that a handful of students can take you down where this few makes you feel like a failure as a teacher.  Where your focus is on them and not the rest of your students who are thriving in your class.  (I guess I should mention that it is not always the student that makes you feel like a failure…sometimes it is a parent like happened for me last year.)

So, how do I avoid this?

Today being Thanksgiving gave me a thought.  Maybe one tool that helps here, one weapon in this battle, is thankfulness.  Gratitude.  The attitude of taking stock of what is going well instead of what is not.

Being thankful for the good things takes your focus off of what is going wrong.  It puts into perspective that things really aren’t that bad and you that you can build on those things that are going great.  It lets you see the “silver lining” and move on.  Thankfulness lets the not-so-great things roll off your back like water off of a duck.

Being a thankfully reflective teacher can change you…especially in the moment when one or few students make you feel like you aren’t doing a good job.

Really?  Can it be that simple?

I don’t know that this is all of it, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.  A big step in that direction.  As I have thought about this on this Thanksgiving morning, some of my stress from Tuesday has started to melt away.  Not all of it, but a lot of it.  It is changing my attitude.  It is changing me.  It is letting me remember why I do what I do and put up with what I put up with.

It is refilling my patience.  That is a feat that is hard to do in the thick of a school year!  I will be honest, it helps that I have a break from school…but I still needed a patience refill!

So, what can we be thankful for as teachers?

I am just going make a quick “Thankful List” for me.  You can be thankful for whatever you need to be thank for…it sounds simplistic, but I think it will make a difference for you as it has for me.  What are you teacher-thankful for?

My Thankful Teacher List

  • I have a job.  That is important.  Not all teachers have one right now.
  • I work at a great school with great teachers.  ‘Nuff said.  🙂
  • I am on the best team of teachers at a school of great teachers.
  • I have wonderful, amazing students.
  • I have students who actually care when I am having a bad day.
  • I have students succeeding in my class who have had little success in school to this point (and I teach 6th grade).
  • I have students whose behavior has improved immensely and they are really starting to take their job as a student seriously.
  • Almost all of my students are interested in science, even if they haven’t been until this year (I teach science).
  • Most of my students work, cause no problems, and are improving in their ability to think and learn on their own.
  • I get to teach science to middle-schoolers, which is an amazing job to have!
  • I have a few students who work hard just because they know I care for them and want them to succeed.
  • Even those giving me a hard time will come around at some point.
  • I work with teachers who will help me become a better teacher.
  • I know I said it already, but I have amazing students.

Wow, I am glad I wrote those out instead of just thinking them.  I feel so much better.  Thankfulness does change you!  Can you do the same?  Write out a list of what you are thankful for in your classroom and with your students.  You don’t have to do it here, but you can if you would like!

Let gratitude change your attitude.

I know that sounds cheesy, but it does work!  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving, Teacher!  If you aren’t from the US…Happy Thursday!

You are amazing!  You are awesome!  You are getting through to your students.  Don’t give up!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance

What You Are Not…


(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,

I have written to you a lot about what you are as a teacher.  You are a world-changer.  You are a superhero.  You are a live-saver.  You are a future-molder…

You are tired.  You are stressed.  You are over-worked.  You are overwhelmed.  You are beat-up.  You are burned out.

You are a teacher.

Today I want to do something a little different.  I want to mention something that you are not.  It is something that you need to hear and be reminded of each and every day.

You, Teacher, are not alone. 

Since last Friday, I have received more feedback than I ever gotten about the blog.  Goodness No!, Be The Shark, and Superheroes and Alter-Egos have really resounded with teachers.  There have been so many messages of “thanks” and “I needed to hear that.”  The common theme seems to be that what I am saying is what you all are going through.

The funny part is that with all three of these posts, I truly was writing to myself.  I was speaking to what I am feeling and going through.  I was trying to remind myself to remember why I do what I do in all of the busyness and stress of teaching.  I was talking to me and letting you listen in.

Teachers from all over the world have said, “That is me, too.  I am going through those things.  I am having those thoughts.  That is how I feel.  Thank you for the reminders of why I teach and what is important!”

You know what this means?

We are not alone.

No matter how you feel at your school, in your grade level, in your subject area, or whatever your teaching situation, you are not on your own.  What you are going through is common.  What you are feeling is not odd.  You don’t have to feel lonely as a teacher because the teachers around you aren’t feeling the same way.  Other teachers ARE going through what you are going through.  The teachers you work with probably are, too, they are just hiding it well.

You are not alone.

Do not be ashamed of feeling tired and overwhelmed.  Don’t be embarrassed by the burnout.  Don’t feel bad when you mess up, lose your cool, or just want to give up.  You are not the only one.  You can get through it.  You can get past it.  You can get back to who you are and why you love to teach.

We know what you feel like because we feel it to…you are not alone because the whole world of teachers is with you.

Feel like giving up?  You are not alone.

Burned out?  Beat up?  Beat down?  You are not alone.

Stressed?  Overwhelmed?  Exhausted?  You are not alone.

Feeling isolated and lonely in what you are experiencing in teacherhood?  You most definitely are not isolated and alone…we are right there with you.

Feel like you are the only one who feels the way you do?  You aren’t.  You are not alone.

Have I said it enough?  You are not alone.

“So what?  I am not alone.  I get it.  Now what?”

Knowing you are not alone is a great place to start.  It reminds you that other people have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience what you are experiencing.  This thought alone gives you hope.  Hope leads to perseverance.  Perseverance keeps you going.  Going and pushing on lets you get through what you are going through.  Getting through gives you perspective and helps you keep going next time you get on this cycle.  AND…all of this helps you to remember why you teach and keeps you on that teaching path…no matter what the world and life and teaching throws at you.

So…know you are not alone and let this give you hope.

You can make it.  You can get through.  You can push on.  You can.  You can.  You can.  You can because you are not alone!

(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 will keep going.  You are making a difference and you will keep making a difference.  You are amazing and YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  Remember this and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Quotes to Inspire

Move


Dear Teacher,

This is going to be a quick one!  I, like you, have a zillion things to accomplish and the time to finish about three!  Thus is the life of a teacher.  Too much to do…and not near enough time to even think about how do to half of what needs to be done let alone get any of it done!

And that is what I want to talk about.  What do we do when we have too much to do.

We just do.

We move.

We go.

We do.

It is old and tiresome to quote, but I feel like I need to mention something that the Chinese philosopher, Lau-tzu said a long, long, long time ago:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

We have a thousand miles to move every day as a teacher.  It is overwhelming, to say the least.  But we can’t let this stop us.  We can’t.  Our students need us.  So we just need to start.

We need to take a step.

Then another.

Then another.

Then…

You get it.

We need to move.

Sometimes movement is the best we can do.  Sometimes we can only muster up the energy, strength, and time for a single step…other times it might be seventeen…we might even be able to go a few miles.  No matter how far we go, we just need to move.  We need to step.  We need to go.

Start stepping.

Move.

Go.

You may not get far today, but just move.

Oh, and make sure your students and their needs are you destination!

So what are you waiting for?  Just move!

(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 tired, but you are awesome!  It is hard, but you can do it!  Don’t stop!  Don’t give up!  Keep going, Teacher, and keep on teaching!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Picture Note

The Long, Hard Road


(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,

Two words: Keep going!

It is Wednesday.  Keep going.

You are feeling burned out.  Keep going.

You don’t feel supported.  Keep going.

You are lost in your content.  Keep going.

You have too much to do.  Keep going.

You have some difficult students.  Keep going.

You have things going on at home.  Keep going.

You have issues at your school.  Keep going.

You are not getting along with coworkers.  Keep going.

You are tired.  Keep going.

You are beat up.  Keep going.

You are hurt.  Keep going.

You are emotionally spent.  Keep going.

You are out of ideas.  Keep going.

You have too many students to get to each one every day.  Keep going.

You want to give up.  Keep going.

Keep going.

Keep going.

Keep going.

Your students are so close to breakthroughs.  Keep going!

Your students look to you as their only hope in the day.  Keep going!

Your students need your consistency.  Keep going!

Your students are learning to learn on their own.  Keep going!

Your students are having more and more “aha” moments every day.  Keep going!

Your students are figure things out.  Keep going!

Your students are learning.  Keep going!

You are who they need and need you to be.  Keep going!

Keep going!

Keep going!

Keep going!

The road is long.  The road is hard.  Keep going.

There are thorns.  There are rocks.  There are hills.  There are mountains.  Keep going.

The end is far and your strength is almost gone.  Keep going.

You will make it.  You can get there.  Keep going!

Teacher, don’t give up.

Keep going!

You are awesome.  You can do this.  Don’t stop.  Don’t give up.  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and keep going!

Love, Teacher