Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Secret Occupations of Teachers

You, Teacher, Are a Flight Attendant


(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,

Earlier this summer I did some traveling with my family. A part of that travel was a few trips on airplanes, and this was my preschool’s son first time going on airplanes. This let me think and view the trip from his perspective. There was a sense of wonder and awe with everything on the airplane and all of the aspects of riding on one. As I enjoyed sitting with him as he took it all in, it got me thinking and this spurred an idea in my mind. This idea is what became the Secret Occupations of Teachers (S.O.o.T.) posts.

Today S.O.o.T. is the one that started this idea in the first place. Teachers are like flight attendants. I know, this one is going to seem like a bit of a stretch, but just bare with me. I think it will make sense. ūüôā

A flight attendant is an important part of a flight crew. Of all of the roles that are played on an airplane, the flight attendant is the most public, at least to passengers. Basically, they are the face of the flight. They are who set the tone before, during, and after take-off and landing.

The job of flight attendant serves two main functions: ensure that safety regulations are being followed and to make sure that passengers as as comfortable as possible during the flight. Everything that flight attendants do fall under those categories. CareerPlanner.com gives the following job description:

1) Announce and demonstrate safety and emergency procedures such as the use of oxygen masks, seat belts, and life jackets.

2) Answer passengers’ questions about flights, aircraft, weather, travel routes and services, arrival times, and/or schedules.

3) Assist passengers in placing carry-on luggage in overhead, garment, or under-seat storage.

4) Assist passengers while entering or disembarking the aircraft.

5) Attend preflight briefings concerning weather, altitudes, routes, emergency procedures, crew coordination, lengths of flights, food and beverage services offered, and numbers of passengers.

6) Check to ensure that food, beverages, blankets, reading material, emergency equipment, and other supplies are aboard and are in adequate supply.

To sum it up, flight attendants are all about passengers. To keep them safe. To keep them happy as possible. I know there have been some stories in the news where this did not happen, and most of us have had a bad experience or two, but for the most part we can probably say that a majority of flight attendants do the best job possible. Which would be hard, if you think about it. They know that they probably will not see the passengers again, and sometimes the passengers can be rude for a number of reasons. They put up with a lot, but they try to keep a smile on their faces as they pass passengers on from one place to the next as safely and comfortably as possible.

(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)

Acknowledgement

Teacher, you are a flight attendant. You have two main roles as a teacher, to ensure a safe environment for learning and to provide and atmosphere that makes learning comfortable (comfortable in terms of growing understanding, thinking skills/processes, independent thought, etc…). When the learning environment is safe and comfortable, thinking, understanding, and learning happens.

I know that I have shared this quote before, but what Albert Einstein said fits so well here:

I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide an environment in which they can learn.

We, as teachers, set the tone, atmosphere, and safety net for learning. We make sure that students feel secure. We make sure that they are safe physically, mentally, and emotionally. We make sure that they have what they need. We go over the procedures over, and over, and over, and over, and over…and then one more time. We provide for them. We even sometimes give snacks…on the longer flights of knowledge. And we put up with a lot…keeping a smile the best that we can.

Encouragement

The constant smile on your face comes with a cost…it is hard to do and sometimes almost hurts to take what gets thrown at you. ¬†Sometimes you do not handle it well, but those times are not often. ¬†You do your best to keep your cool. ¬†You do your best to keep a straight face as you go over the “safety procedures” while your student roll there eyes. ¬†You try to deal with disgruntled “passengers” the best that you can and keep an even tone. ¬†You do your best to work with your “passengers” even though the “pilots” may be making what you need to do difficult from time to time. ¬†You try to keep that smile and continue to keep your “passengers” safe and the learning environment comfortable.

You are awesome. ¬†People who think you do not do miracles every day just don’t know what you do. ¬†They don’t understand. ¬†Students, parents, administration, and anyone else who gives you negative feedback from time to time do not see your day-to-day and minute-to-minute. ¬†Take it with a grain of salt, change what you can change, and move on. ¬†You are amazing. ¬†Keep that smile up no matter what goes down. ¬†You are good at what you do and you are making a difference.

Challenge

Teacher, are you doing all that you can do to keep the learning environment as safe and comfortable as you possibly can?  What can you do improve the atmosphere of your classroom and optimize learning every day?  The challenge I would like to give to you is to find some way you can make a change.  It can be a teaching strategy or a change in how you view thinking and learning.  Pick one thing.  Study it.  Absorb it.  Plan with it.  Implement it.  One thing.  Summer folks, you even have a few weeks left to do this.

A couple of suggestions of things that I have pick as some of my “one things”:

  • Problem/Project Based Learning (PBL) – PBL is a buzzword (well, buzz-letters) you probably have been hearing about if you do not already know about it and use it. ¬†Basically, it is giving your content relevance to the students and teaching with an end in mind that the students buy into. ¬†The Buck Institute for Education is one of the best sources out there. ¬†Edutopia also has some great information and available resources for incorporating PBL. ¬†Project Based Learning has a self-guided mini-course you can work through to learn more, and this is the site that helped me the most.
  • Brain-Based Learning – as you can probably infer, brain-based learning uses current brain research to improve the understanding of teaching and learning processes and helps you change your teaching strategies in light of this. ¬†Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen, which I know I talk about a lot, was the beginning of my understanding and implementation brain-based learning. ¬†He also has several other books (Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching,¬†and Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain, to name a few…and no, they are not paying me for endorsements, I am just a fan!). ¬†There are other great resources out there, as well. ¬†There is a book that I plan to get soon that would be a great place to start, Brain Rules by John Medina (who is a molecular biologist who knows what he is talking about…he is not just a former teacher). ¬†Another great resource is¬†How the Brain Learns by Dr. David Sousa (viewed as one of the leading experts on the brain and learning). ¬†You can do an internet search and find a number of online resources, as well.

Teacher, you are a flight attendant.  It may seem like a lesser job on the flight crew, but it really one of the most important.  What you do is important.  Very important!  You set the tone, atmosphere, and environment for learning.  And you do it with a smile.  You are awesome!  Keep on smiling and keep on teaching!

Remember this, we are only flight attendants for our students on their way from one city to the next on their journey of life. ¬†Don’t waste the little time that you have with them! ¬†Now, please return your seats and tray tables to the proper, upright position. ¬†ūüôā

(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)

Love, Teacher

PS…Thanks for reading through this one. ¬†It was long! ¬†I hope it was worth your time!

Oh, and for those of you who use¬†Edmodo, I have started an¬†Edmodo Group¬†for the daily updates. ¬†This way I will be able to make the ‚ÄúEdmodo blasts‚ÄĚ in the Communities few and far between‚ĶI don‚Äôt know that everyone ‚Äúloves‚ÄĚ them. ¬†ūüôā

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Posted in General Inspiration, Secret Occupations of Teachers, Weekend Note

S.O.o.T. Sunday: Flooring Specialist


Dear Teacher,

Great Sunday morning to you! ¬†I hope you are having a wonderful and amazing weekend! ¬†Today’s post is the second installment of my new weekend post series called S.O.o.T. (the Secret Occupations of Teachers) where I focus on what we do as teachers, even the stuff that a lot of people don’t realize we do, and compare it to other professions. ¬†Each week I will acknowledge those “secret” jobs of our, give encouragement for you in those roles, and the give a little challenge to you about those hidden parts of your work. ¬†Last week, the first S.O.o.T., I talked about how teachers compare to landscapers/gardeners. ¬†If you did not get a chance to read it, you should check it out. ¬†The image stuck with me, personally, and I thought about teaching and the things I needed to do in that light throughout the week. ¬†Enough of the back story, let’s get to the S.O.o.T. for today! ¬†ūüôā

This past week, I got a little (minuscule, really) experience of what another profession would be like. ¬†If you read my post on Friday, you know that I spent the week working on installing a hardwood floor at my house and practicing the art of perseverance. ¬†We worked with a friend, also a teacher, who has a good bit of experience working with professional flooring installers, and we went and consulted with the professional guys to get some pointers, help, and borrow some much needed tools. ¬†Those were amazing guys that really know their stuff! ¬†We finally finished the floor, which looked pretty good, and I have had a day or so to reflect on the experience. ¬†For this reason, today’s S.O.o.T. is flooring specialist.

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

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

This is going to be a bit long in the beginning, but please read on to how it compares to teaching.  I think it will be worth it! 

As I said, flooring specialists are amazing people. ¬†Flooring specialists install floors (hardwoods, laminate, carpet, tile, etc…), repair said floors, and beautify the floors. ¬†I never realized before how many “moving parts” their are in installing floors! ¬†There are so many things you need to think about, know, and keep track of throughout the job. ¬†There is a ton of planning. ¬†There is a ton of prep work. ¬†There is a ton of grunt work (the actual install). ¬†And there is a ton of finishing work. ¬†When you are done, you have a completed and beautiful product, but there is SO MUCH that goes into it before you get there.

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

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

Flooring specialists¬†have to take a look and plan out the floor before they can even start thinking about how to get the job done. ¬†It usually includes their client explaining what they would like…which is not always easy to make happen. ¬†One part of this phase of the job is explaining the reality of the “vision” to the client and what is possible/impossible, what would go into making it happen, and estimating cost. ¬†This lets the client know if they can afford to make their dream a reality. ¬†Once this is done, a preliminary plan can be thought out.

The next phase (and part of the planning phase) is getting rid of the old floor and looking at the sub-floor and seeing what needs to be done to it before installing a new floor can happen.  Sometimes it means the need for ripping out old sub-floor to put more permanent and reliable sub-floors in, and it almost always need to be leveled with leveling compound so that the new floors will lay flat.  Investigating and improving the sub-floor is a vital step in ensuring the longevity of a new floor.

Once the planning and sub-floor prep work is completed, then the actual installation can happen. ¬†There is measuring, cutting, gluing, stapling, nailing, tapping, moving, hammering, and a number of other things that I am leaving out. ¬†There is even some “undoing” if you make a mistake…which is time consuming and stressful because you do not want to damage the floor that does not need to be fixed. ¬†The tools you use to do all of this are special and specific to the job, as well as some power tools for cutting that most people do not have just sitting around. ¬†It is all pain-staking and precise work…and the less experience you have the harder it is!

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

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

At the end, you need to clean. ¬†You need to fill in areas that may need more precise cuts. ¬†You need to putty holes left by nails or staples. ¬†You need to carefully replace molding and shoe molding. ¬†And then you need to clean again. ¬†When it is all said and done, it is a beautiful job done…but it was a lot of work to get to “done.”

Acknowlegement

Teacher, you are a¬†flooring specialist. ¬†You are given a vision of what the end product needs to look like with your students. ¬†You are told what they need to know, understand, and be able to do by the end of the year. ¬†You try to be realistic with the “clients” giving you this vision for your students and show them what is possible/impossible, what it will take to get to the vision, and estimate the costs of the vision (in money, time, and energy), but in the end you are given the expectation for what the “floor” needs to look like.

You make a preliminary plan of what it will take to get the job done, and then you get to looking at the sub-floor. ¬†You meet your students. ¬†You get to know them. ¬†You learn what they know/don’t know. ¬†You figure out their strengths and weaknesses. ¬†You find out what they have and what they need. ¬†You try to find a place that you can teach from that will address the needs of all students. ¬†Some students need new ways of thinking and studying…you need to work to replace their “sub-floors” with something more permanent. ¬†Other just need to be “leveled out” a bit to be able to keep up with the content, work, and other students. ¬†You work hard to get this all done as quick as you can in the beginning so that you can get to the hard work of “laying the floors” of knowledge, understanding, and accomplishment.

Once the prep work is complete, you get to the installation. ¬†You measure student data as you go. ¬†You use specialized teaching tools appropriate for each situation and student. ¬†You find ways to make the new content, understanding, and application “stick” and “adhere” to students minds and thinking. ¬†You move things around (content and students). ¬†You make sure everything fits. ¬†You have a lot of moving pieces to keep track of, but you do it like a champ! ¬†Sometimes you have to “undo” some mistakes make, and you do so carefully so you do not damage what has already been done that is working well. ¬†You work hard with expertise and professionalism. ¬†

In the end you do the finishing work of filling in gaps. ¬†You even out places that are a little off. ¬†You “putty” in small pieces of understanding that may have been missed here or there. ¬†You then replace the molding and finish out what you can to send a beautiful product up to the next grade. ¬†You send on an amazing product, but it took a lot of work to get it done!

Encouragement

  • Teacher, you are amazing at what you do! ¬†The job so often seems hard or impossible…the vision given seems unreachable, but you work hard at it anyway! ¬†You get as close to the vision as you possible can, and sometimes you even go past that vision. ¬†You are awesome!
  • There are so many pieces to what you do, and you have to be great at all of them…and you are! ¬†You have to plan with realism. You have to get to know your students. ¬†You have to measure, cut, apply, and adjust constantly. ¬†You have so much to keep up with…but somehow you do it! ¬†You are amazing!
  • You do a great job when everything is said and done at the end of the year! ¬†Do not be ashamed to look back and see how great the floors are compared to how they were before you got to them! ¬†Take a look back at students that you have brought a long way and be proud! ¬†Don’t be afraid to do this. ¬†You need to do this. ¬†Remembering our success is the only way to be even more successful in the future!

Challenge

  • Teachers on summer break, set a vision for next year. ¬†Work at that this summer. ¬†Yes, you don’t know what your “sub-floors” are like yet, but you can plan a vision. ¬†You know the expectations for you, so work from their. ¬†Don’t be afraid to plan big. ¬†I know I am this summer. ¬†Your big plans may not pan out, but don’t be afraid to dream. ¬†Come up with the most creative way to meet and surpass the vision that has been set for you by others. ¬†You can do it! ¬†Come up with at least three real things that you can do different this year to get to the impossible goals set for you. ¬†You can do it! ¬†You are amazing!
  • Teachers teaching right now, stop and think about one real way that you can change what you are doing to better address the needs of your students. ¬†Take stock of your “sub-floor” with each student and find one way to help “level” or “improve” the knowledge, understanding, and/or abilities of each student. ¬†It is hard work , but worthwhile in the end. ¬†One thing for each student. ¬†You can do that! ¬†Just do it!

Teacher, you are an amazing¬†floor specialist! ¬†You work so hard to meet the goals set for you. ¬†In the end, you have brought each student so far and have installed beautiful floors. ¬†Don’t forget that. ¬†Never forget that. ¬†You are awesome! ¬†Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, Secret Occupations of Teachers, Weekend Note

Secret Occupations of Teachers (S.O.o.T.) Inaugural Post


Dear Teacher,

As I promised, I am kicking off a series of posts that I will write over the weekends called The Secret Occupations of Teachers, or S.O.o.T. for short. ¬†I am going to talk about some of the “extra” things that teachers do or compare some of what we do to other occupations. ¬†The ¬†goal of this series is to give you some comfort in knowing other people understand what you do (along with some encouragement and challenges in some of your roles) and to let other people in on the parts of a life of a teacher that they may not know about. ¬†I am excited about these posts, and I hope you will be to!

Today’s S.O.o.T. is gardener/landscaper. ¬†These jobs deal with the care and upkeep of plants, for the most part. ¬†When you think of gardeners, you think of gardens, flowers, and vegetables. ¬†When you think of landscapers, you think of mowing, weeding, planting, and taking care of yards and landscapes. ¬†Gardeners/landscapers understand plants. ¬†They know what grows when and the circumstances needed for ideal growth…and they know how to create those circumstances. ¬†They know weeds. ¬†They know how to identify them and get rid of them. ¬†They know plants, understand them, and use what they know and understand to grow beautiful and wonderful things.

Acknowlegement

Teacher, you are a landscaper and a gardener. ¬†You don’t deal in plants, you deal in people. ¬†The soil that you work with is the minds and hearts of your students. ¬†You have to know this soil. ¬†You have to understand the circumstances in which you are tying to grow. ¬†You get to know you students. ¬†Learn who they are and how they think. ¬†With this you identify weeds that need to be worked on and pulled out. ¬†Sometimes this is easy, but more often it is quite hard. ¬†Once the ground is ready, you plant seeds of knowledge and learning.

The seeds grow differently in each student, and you know that the circumstances needed for growth change from student to student. ¬†You know that you cannot force the seeds to grow, so you make sure that you enable the soil in each student to have everything that is needs to allow growth. ¬†You nurture. ¬†You feed and water the seeds. ¬†When weeds of misunderstanding grow, you address them quickly with which ever means are necessary. ¬†You do all that you can to ensure growth of the seeds, and then you do the only thing you can do…wait.

You wait and see what grows from the soil.  You are patient.  You are understanding.  You change things as needed when the fruit of understanding looks weak with a student.  You do all that you can to make sure that you have done all that you can to see understanding bloom and take shape.  And when it is all said and done, you stand back and enjoy the beauty of understanding students that has grown from your hard work.

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

Encouragement

Teacher, I know that this role of landscaper/gardener is hard. ¬†You have to be vigilant. ¬†You can’t just mow the lawn once or pull up the weeds of misunderstanding a couple of times and be done. ¬†No, you have to keep at it. ¬†Day after day with each and every student, and you do without complaint. ¬†But it is hard.

Don’t give up. ¬†I know when you pull up that same weed from one student the 1001st time you do not want to do it again, but keep doing it. ¬†Something beautiful WILL grow. ¬†Just keep going. ¬†Keep at it. ¬†You know it is worth it in the end. ¬†Focus on what you want to see grow and then do what it takes to make that happen.

You are an amazing gardener.  You are a wonderful landscaper.  Keep at it!  You can do it!  You are awesome!

Challenge

Remember this analogy as you plug away with your students. ¬†When the going gets rough and they just don’t seem to be getting it, remember that you are a landscaper/gardener and that if you keep working at it something wonderfully beautiful will grow. ¬†When school starts (or right now, if you are teaching), find the most difficult students, and see them as a garden. ¬†Find somewhere to write down three things that you want to see grown in them by the end of the year. ¬†Work hard at seeing those things grow. ¬†Pick three students and three things to grow in them for each. ¬†Do what it takes to see the growth. ¬†Keep notes on the growth you see. ¬†At the end of the year, celebrate the beauty you have watched blossom!

You are an awesome landscaper/gardener, and don’t ever forget that! ¬†I hope this has spoken to you and given you some hope. ¬†I know it has done that for me just writing this. ¬†I am going to take the challenge myself next year. ¬†I hope that you do the same!

You are awesome!  You are believed it!  And you are supported!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Page tonight (Sunday) for the giveaway/contest. ¬†The contest closes at midnight on Friday, July 5th!