Lost and Found


(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 bet you thought I was gone for good, huh?  I haven’t written you in quite some time.  I am sorry for that.  But it was necessary.

I needed a break.

Sometimes we all do, and I definitely did.  I needed one and I took one.

I did not know how long the break from blogging would last.  I even let the domain name go for a bit.  I wasn’t sure if I would be back…but here I am.  I am here for you.

Where did I go?

Well, just like for you, the world is spinning.  I think everyone feels that, but teachers and educators especially do.  We have so much to do and take care of between school life and home life…and sometimes the world is moving faster than we can keep up with and all we can do is hold on for dear life.

That is where I was…holding on for dear life.

I had to do what we all do.  I had to evaluate all of my self-given responsibilities and decide which ones needed to take a backseat and even go in the trunk for a while.  I had to make some hard choices.  Writing to you was one thing that I could put down for a while, and I did.  I did because I had to.

I am back, now, though.  Hopefully you didn’t need my encouragement too much and were able to find some from another source for a while.

I am writing to you to challenge you to take some time this summer and figure out what you might need to put down for a while.  What is the extra that is good but might be the one-too-many for your life?  What are you juggling that you don’t have to?  What can you put aside for a while?

And sometimes you need to think about picking something else up once you put it down.

What is something that you want to do or love doing that you could buy some time for by stopping something else?  Is there a hobby?  A bucket-list item?  A place you want to visit?  Anything?

Find a way to make some time for that this summer.  You might just find the you that you’ve forgotten for a while.

For me it was a little (big) side project…I invented a math-based board game, and followed through with it until it was an actual game.  I will share about it in another post later, but I can’t tell you how good it felt to do something different and try a new challenge.  It brought my creativity back to life after a good but draining school year.  I am refreshed and renewed because I put something down (this blog) and tried something new (board game design).

Could you do something similar this summer?  I encourage you to try!

Have you been doing this already?  If so, let me know what you have put down and what you have picked up in the comments!

You are awesome, as always, and I hope you are having an amazing break from the day-to-day of teaching.  You are making a difference for everyone in your life!  Keep on resting this summer and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

(Oh, and if you are interested in hearing more about the board game that I am quite proud of, let me know in the comments, as well!)

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

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Are We There Yet? Exhaustion and Last Days…


Dear Teacher,

It is drawing ever nearer to the last days of school (if you aren’t already there).  You are tired.  No…strike that.  You are completely and utterly exhausted.  This school year has done you in.  You are so done with all of the chaos and drama.

And you deserve to feel that way…it has been a TOUGH year.

You have made it through, but only barely.

The last weeks and days of school are a light at the end of the tunnel, and you feel like your students do right before the buses come.  You are just watching that clock.

Image Source: Wikimedia (Wikipedia)

You keep waiting for the seconds to tick down.  And they feel slow incredibly slow.  Why can’t it just be over.  You need it to be over.

Let me remind you, it is almost time.  You are almost there.

You need this summer…and summer’s coming, friend.  Summer is coming!

It is okay that you’re worn out right now.  If you weren’t, I would be worried that there is something wrong with you or if you might actually be a superhero…or alien…or both.  This year has been rough, and you should be tired in every way shape and form.

And for this reason, it is also okay to be excited about your coming “break” – even with all of the work you have to do eventually over the summer…it still counts as a break.  You get to recharge.  You get to relax.  You get to unwind from the stress of this 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)

You have done well this year, my Teacher Friend.  You have made a difference this year, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.  You have earned the right to look forward to the summer.  You have my permission to watch the clock.  🙂

You are an amazingly awesome teacher!  You will always be.  Enjoy the rest of the year!  Keep on clock-watching…errr…I mean teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

The Reset Button


Dear Teacher,

I hope that you are finally on break now.  If not, I hope today is your last day!  You need it!  You deserve a little break.

Today’s message is going to start a little differently than most.  I want to reflect a little on my childhood.  Keep reading, though.  There is a point that brings it all back to teaching.  🙂

I grew up in the golden age of the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  It was the most wonderful thing in the world to me.  You could have adventures, solve mysteries, and just have tons of fun.  It was great!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Well…it was great for a while.

After a few years, it started to run a little slower.  Before too long, it started having trouble starting the games.  This happened to almost everyone I knew.  We had to blow into the games.  We had to find creative ways to slide the games in.  We had to hope against hope every time we pressed the power button.

Near the end of the life of the NES, you got to know the reset button very, very well.

Each time the game messed up, we pressed reset.

When the game froze up, we pressed reset.

Oh, and there is also the we-did-not-do-so-well-in-the-game times, and we pressed reset.

Reset.  Reset.  Reset.  It was the stand-by that we always went to.

Well, Teacher, you are more than a game system, but you, too get worn down.  You are tired.  You are mentally exhausted.  You are emotionally worn out.

Sometimes, the game messes up on you.  Sometime teaching “freezes” up on you.  Sometimes you are not just doing very well.  These are especially true this time of year and most definitely this year…it has been a rough one for almost every teacher I have talked to.

You need what we relied on with the NES…you need a reset.

Winter break is our reset button built into the year.

I really do think that is the main reason that we need it.  We all need a reset here at the almost school year half-time.

We need a break.  We need a refresh.  We need the hope of a fresh start in the year.

That is what you need.  Don’t forget it.

The holidays are great!  Take the time to reconnect with friends and family.  Do all of the fun, holiday things.  That is all a part of it.  Just do me a favor and don’t forget about you.

Take some down time.

Do something you love doing.

TAKE A BREAK!

Just be.

Refresh teacher.

Hit that reset button…what ever that looks like for you.

Teacher, I hope you have a tremendous break and happy holidays!  Just remember that you need to recharge.  Don’t forget to reset.

You are awesome!  I know that you will take some time for you.  You are doing a great job this year, even if it does not always feel that way.  You really are making a difference!  Reset and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Being Awesome to Yourself…


(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 am so sorry for neglecting you this week!  However, I don’t regret it.  No offense meant by that though.  I made a choice this week and I stand by it.

I made a consciousness effort this week to but all of my time and energy into two areas: the coming school year (with everything that accompanies that) and my family.  Unfortunately it was more of the former than the latter, but I did make an honest effort!  I really did.

In crunch time and where the rubber meets the road, we as teacher have make choices and an effort to follow through on said choices.  And it is not always easy.  We want to do so much.  We aim to take on the world…but, alas, we only have a finite amount of time and energy.  We can’t do it all.  We have to choose.

And it is hard.

We know what are students need.  We know what we would like for them to have.  We know what we need to plan and what it will take from us if we plan as excellently as we would like.  We strive to help other teachers, especially the newbies.  We want to help around the school,  assist the support staff, and support administration.  We also want to help with sports, after school programs, and fine arts performances.

This doesn’t even count our after school lives!

We have families.  We have things to go to and help with at our children’s or family’s schools.  We are there for our friends.  We have church.  We belong to clubs.  We have hobbies we a devoted to.  And the list could go on and on forever.

This is why we have to choose, and we do.

It is too bad that we often forget someone when we do.

Teacher,  don’t forget about you.

Now, I am not saying to let important things drop.  You know how to prioritize.  I am saying that we can never let the “needs of the many” stretch us out so far that we are unrecognizable to our friends and family!  You have to make some of your choices based on you and what is important to you being you.

You need “you” choices that let you de-stress.  You need to detox from the pressures of teaching, at least a little.  You need to find a way to relax and enjoy life a little.  You need to unwind because you know that you are bound to wind up to get wound up again!

You need to at least make one or two choices based on you each week…and do not feel bad about it.

This is why I do not regret neglecting you.  I made choices based on my world…not so much about me.  However, this weekend I am going to do something I have never done this weekend in my eight years of teaching.  I am making this. Choice based on me.

I am not going to school this weekend.  It is the last weekend before students come, and our administration let’s us come in and finish up in our classes.  I have gone in every year so far.  Not this year.  I am thinking about me, and I want to spend time with my family.  So I am.

Do I have stuff to get done?  Sure.  Do I think I may not do everything before students come on Wednesday?  You betcha.  Am I worried?  Not this year.  I know it will all come together.

I am choosing to focus on me.  I am banking on the idea that if I do that there will be more of me to give out to the students.  I am all-in on this bet.  I have a feeling it is a safe one.

What about you?  Are you spread too thin?  Are you neglecting you?  What is a choice that you can make to let there be more of you to give to you students?

You are awesome!  Don’t forget to remember you!  You ARE amazing and you ARE making a difference.  Keep on teaching and remembering yourself from time to time, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Celebrate Teacher Times, Come On


Dear Teacher,

For those of you on summer break, what have you been up to so far this summer?  I have had a little break, as you know, but now I am back to work…at least the planning part of our job.  My school is emphasizing planning over the summer, and understandably so.  For this reason, this has been a week of intense planning for me.  After a few days of hardcore planning like this, I feel very worn out.  I don’t know how that goes for you, but it can get exhausting for me!

Or are you still in the let-last-year-fade-away phase of summer?  It was a great year, or not so great, and you just need to let the memories slide away and relax a bit so that you can be ready for the next one.  This is an important part of the summer.  We can not carry all of the stress (good or bad) from last year into next year.  A part of summer is to unwind so that you can get wound back up again.  It is vital to your teaching heart to have a little time to let last year go!  You have been emptied out and you need to fill back up!

To those teaching right now (especially the Southern Hemisphere-ers), how are things going for you?  Are you still in the easier times of the year or is it the nose-to-the-grindstone time when the students are not as excited to be in school and you have a million things to do?  Are you still pumped up and enthusiastic about all that you have to do?  Or are you tired, beat up, and on the edge of burn out?  Are you just somewhere on the roller coaster in between the too extremes?

Where ever you are in all of this, it is important to remember not to sweat the small stuff.  Almost a month ago I posted about this and encouraged you to celebrate the small stuff.  Today’s post is just a reminder to do just that!  All of the little things that annoy us, wear us down, and beat us up little by little (including those held over from last year) can become a mountain that eventually falls and crushes us.  We need to build a retaining wall against them…and we do that by celebrating all of those little things that are great every day, week, month, and year!

Another way to look at it is to think of the motivational poster I shared yesterday.  As teachers, we really are a buoy in the water there to guide, protect, and lead our students to where they need to go.  It can be lonely and hard as the “small stuff” comes in as waves and beat on us.  The thing about buoys like the one in the poster, though, is that they are held in place by an anchor.  Celebrating and remembering those little things that go well can be the anchor that holds us in place!  The waves can come, but we know why we are there and why we became a teacher.  To lead the way for a brighter future for our students!

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

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

So…

Summer planning teacher:

  • Celebrate what you have already finished!
  • Throw a party for the work you will not have to do during the year because you did it now!
  • Toast the great things that your students will be able to accomplish because you worked so hard to plan for them!

Summer relaxing teacher:

  • Celebrate those small changes you saw in your students throughout the year, especially the more challenging students!
  • Throw a party for the growth that you see in yourself as a teacher!  You are an even better teacher than you were at this time last year!
  • Toast the accomplishment of a year well done, no matter if it was your best year, your worst, or somewhere in between!  Teacher, you made it and now you are on the other side!

Teacher in the throws of teaching:

  • Celebrate those things that are going right!  What is working well for you right now?  Those are awesome!  Celebrate them!
  • Throw a party for those students that are truly connecting to what you are teaching!  This is why you do what you do!  Have a 10 second party for these kids once in a while!
  • Toast the things that you have been able to notice that are not working and you have changed to teach your students better!  How have you monitored and adjusted to improve student learning?  Here’s to those things!  Cheers!

Teacher, celebrate!  Dig that anchor in deep and the sweaty small stuff won’t affect you as much!  The celebrations are important.  You need them.  Don’t forget to celebrate a little something every day!

You are so awesome!  You are a great teacher!  You are making a difference!  I truly believe in you!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

The Take Care of You Challenge


Dear Teacher,

I am happy to present Substitute Teacher Laura.  She has an awesome blog and her post here is amazing…so I will let her just speak for herself!  Enjoy!  And check out Teacher Laura’s blog!

Dear Teacher,

IT”S SUMMERTIME.  Summer is a time for rejuvenation and I am ready to be rejuvenated.  I have just experienced one of the most difficult years in my 20 year teaching career and I am so thankful it is over.   I am ready to put 2012-2013 school year behind me and look ahead to summer and I bet you are too.

It is summer and it is time to take care of YOU.  Teachers are so busy during the school year that we put off everything we need to do until the summer, like dentist and doctor appointments, cleaning and de-cluttering, reading good books, eating right and exercising and so much more.  I am here to give you a summer to do list that includes relaxing and reading.

1.  Get a Massage.  The first thing you should do when you finish the school year is get a massage. A massage is perfect way to begin to de-stress and relieve your muscles of tension.

2.  READ.  Stop at the library or bookstore and make your reading list.  This is important.  There are so many good books out there that you need to make sure to read the books that matter to you.  Be a Booksnob like me and read what YOU want, not what others tell you to read.  Summer is a time to be a little selfish since you spent the whole school year give yourself and your time to others.

I, myself am an avid reader and a book blogger for the last three years so summer reading is super important to me.  Here are some of the books on my To Be Read List this summer.

         A.  The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver.  This book will be released on June 11th and is already the talk of book bloggers.  Noa P. Singleton is a 20 year old on death row in Pennsylvania.  This is a thriller that promises to keep you turning the pages.  I’m so excited to read this.

B.  Ask the Passengers by A. S. King.  Young Adult fiction.  I have been wanting to read a book by A.S. King for a long time. This book is on my camp readalot book list.  It is about a teen named Astrid who spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions

        C.  Reclaiming Youth at Risk. Our Hope for the Future.  I teach in a very diverse inner city high school.  This year our staff has joined together to form book groups to read a book that will inform our teaching practice.  I chose to read this book.  I am very excited to read it.  I have met one of the authors, Dr. Martin Brokenleg and really respect his work.

      D.  A Choice of Weapons by Gordon Parks.  Autobiography.  This is the Minneapolis One Read book this fall and all of my high school seniors will be reading this as part of one my classes.   Gordon Parks was the first African American to write, direct and score a Hollywood Film.

E.  Steal Like an Artist. 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon.  I love to be creative.  In fact I am creative but sometimes, I forget how to include creativity in my daily life.  This book is awesome, I have already started reading it and it has started to work its magic on me.  Watch out world.  My creativity is flowing.

3.  Take Naps.  Seriously your deserve it.  Catch up on your sleep.  This is so important to de-stress and rejuvenate.

4.  Go to the Beach.  Enjoy the sun, sand and water.  Soak up the vitamin D.  Play a little.  Bring a book to read.  I spend my summer birthday at the beach every year and I can hardly wait to go.  The sun has been missing from Minnesota almost all Spring, so when the sun does shine, I will be going to the beach and so should you.

5. Travel.  Visit some place new.  See the sites in your hometown or plan a trip out of town.  It doesn’t matter where you go, or what you do as long as you are having fun and experiencing life.  I love to visit places close to the Twin Cities and learn about my hometown.   Ride your bike or take a hike.  Go see that waterfall or visit one of your State Parks.

7.  Try something new:  Learn something new.  Take up ball room dancing.  Try Geocaching.  Go camping.  Take a class at ITunes U.  Watch a few Ted talks, start a new TV series and watch all of it.  The possibilities are endless.

8.  Exercise.  Believe it or not this helps get rid of stress and helps give you energy.  I try to exercise during the school year but usually other things are more important and exercising gets pushed to the back burner.  Now is the time to enjoy the weather and free time by exercising. So get out there and take walks with your dog, run, ride your bike, play your Wii or Xbox Kinect and get your body moving to the music.

It will make you feel better and it is important that you feel good.  

9.  Enjoy your summer and your time off.  You deserve it.  You worked very hard all school year.

Thanks for all your hard work.  Now go and enjoy your summer.

Love Teacher

You can find me on my book blog this summer.  Visit me at Booksnob

Thanks for letting me be a guest writer at Dear Teacher/Love Teacher.

P.S.  That is my dog Titus.  He is modeling how to chill and relax.