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!

 

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Fight Song [for Teachers]


Dear Teacher,

It is not even almost halfway through the year, but I am already tired.  How about you?  It gets busy fast doesn’t it?  So much to do…

I think it is time for a little rally.  There is a lot of year left and our students need us to be on our game.  It is time for a theme song post, and I think I know the song we need right now.  Click play and then read on.

Sometimes it feels so lonely as a teacher.

We are only one person, but we are trying to change the lives of our students each day.  We are helping to shape and mold their futures.

We believe in them.  We care about them.  We know what we do matters.  It is our nature, heart, and calling to do our best to make a difference.

We have ideas.  We have plans.  We have a drive.  We are committed.

But we can feel so overwhelmed sometimes.

There is so much to do in order to do what we need to do.

Some of the the stuff to do is extra and not from us, but some of us is from ourselves because we want to do the best we possible can do for our students.

We want them to see how great that they can be.  We want the experience in our classrooms to inspire them to move on and move deeper.  We want them to become learners that never stop.

We can’t stop.

We have more to give.

We have more to be.

We have lives to change.

Teacher, you have fight in you.  You have a warrior inside of you.  You are a monster, in a good way.  You have battles to wage for your students.  They need you to keep fighting and keep going.

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

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

Find those reserves.

Remember why you are doing this…

You may only have one match, but you can make an explosion in the life of a students!

You have a lot left inside of you.

Keep going.

You’ve got this.

Never stop.  Never give up.  Never lose hope for the difference that you are making.

Keep dreaming.  Keep moving.  Keep going.

Don’t lose the part of you that realizes how important what you do is!  I know that you have a lot to do.  I know that you don’t love all of the aspects of your job…but your students need you!  It is worth fighting through.  It is worth doing all that you can to keep going.  The little things you do matter more than anything.  Remember why you a teacher…the students.

You are not crazy to keep doing this.  Just focus on those lives behind the eyes that are looking at you.  You have a purpose.  You are needed.  You are vitally important to the people in your classroom and the world.

Keep fighting!  We all need you to!  Keep breathing and keep going!

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)

You’ve got this.  I believe in you!  You are amazing.  You are making a difference.  You really are.  Keep fighting and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

[Teachers, We Need to Be] Good Monsters


Dear Teacher,

How is the week going for you?  I know it is early, but it has already been a tough one for me.  However, a rough week already bearing its head and it is only Tuesday seems to be par for the course this year.  Like a most of the other teachers I know and talk to, this has been a difficult year so far.  Not all bad, just super challenging.

Thinking today and about the message that I need to hear (most of the time I write to you as a way to talk to myself…I am a teacher like you, after all 🙂 ), an idea and analogy for my role as a teacher at a Title I school that I have had for the past several years came back to mind.  It is the concept of who I am and need to be sometimes.  This analogy came to me from a song…so I am thinking that I need to make this a theme song post to share about this.

Click play and read on.  Oh, please ignore the cheesy-ness of the video.  It is an older song that you may have never heard before, but give it a listen while you read.  I so hope this all makes sense…this is an analogy and song that I cling to on the hardest of days.

We have a difficult job.  There is so much to do.  So much that we are expected to get done.  Sometimes it seems too much.  Some days (most days) we strive to get by and just keep our heads above the water.

We get to school, look around, and try to sort through all of the “to do’s” to get “to done.”  We let some plates drop while we focus on others, and we look for the light at the end of the tunnel while we trudge through the darkness of the day to day.

It is overwhelming.

It can be too much.

But sometimes we forget two vital things: who we are and the reason that we are here.

You are a teacher, Teacher!  You have made it through teacher training.  You have been through student teaching.  You have passed state exams.  You have made it through evaluations.  And you have survived tough years of teaching before.

You find a way to juggle “real life” and school.  You balance your time, schedule, and money.  You find a way to get things done no matter what.  You are do so much and you are capable of so much more.

Teacher, you are a monster.

You do the impossible every day.  You do a job that most people don’t have the heart or guts to do.  You are fierce.  You are strong.  You are awesome!

You can be scary, sometimes, but only when you have to be.  You are a monster of the best variety.

Don’t let the chains of the system hold you back.  I know it is hard.  The chains are binding.  But you can break them.  You can find a way to be the monster that you need to be.

Why do you need to be a monster?

That is the other side of this…the other thing that we forget when we are enslaved to the extras that come with our job.

There is a village that has bad monsters tormenting it.  There are villagers that need our help.  They need the monsters that we can be to defeat the monsters that should not be.

Our students need us.  We often forget the monsters that torment their lives.

These monsters are different for different students, but they are still there.  The common monsters that are against them are apathy, laziness, and a want to take the easy road.  Sometimes the education system itself can be a common monster.  There are probably a lot of others, too, but I think you get what I mean.

Not only are there the universal monsters, but there are other, very menacing monsters that stalk many of our students, too.  I won’t go into details, but we often do not know what our students face when they leave our school…not to mention some of the monsters at the school (bullying, peer pressure, etc…).

There is a world of monsters trying to pillage and plunder the lives of our students.

One of our main jobs is to be the last line of defense.  Sometimes it takes monsters to beat monsters.

You, Teacher, are one of those monsters…you are a good monster.

So, Monster, open your eyes today.  Break those chains that are holding you back.  Give up some of the battles that don’t matter and go save a village!

I know that it is hard sometimes to know where to fight, but make your focus the students and the monsters that are eating them alive today.  Help them fight.  You might be their only hope.

I really hope this made sense!

You are so awesome!  I know that you are a monster of the best kind and that you battle well against what plagues your students.  Fight on and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

[Sometimes Teachers Have to Be] Titanium


Dear Teacher,

How was your weekend?  I know a lot of teachers are coming off of or going into Fall Break, if they are lucky enough to have that where they teach.  Mine is this week, so I am starting a three-day school week.

So how are  you doing this year?  From talking to people and my feedback through the blog, it sounds like many teachers are having a rough year.  What about you?  How is it going?

This year has been good, rough, and just plain interesting for me.  I don’t think you would believe half of the stories that I can already tell just from the 2014-2015 school year.  I can tell you that I am worn out, tired, and a little beat-up.  I know that I am making progress with my students, don’t get me wrong, I am just exhausted.

I have a feeling that you might just feel the same way.  For that reason, today’s post will be a special one.  I haven’t done one of these in a long while, but I think it is time to dust off the Theme Song Post.

If you are new to this blog, you might be wondering, “What is that?”

I pick a theme song for you to listen to while you read the rest of the post.  I hope that it serves as a theme song for your day or week.  It usually sticks with me for the whole week when I do these.

Anyway, click play and then read on…

Teacher, you do one of the most noble, yet challenging, jobs in the entire world.

Unfortunately, it feels more challenging that noble most of the time.

First of all, you work with a room full of students everyday (or several groups of students throughout each day).  That is a challenge in of it self.  You have to know your students.  You have to know what they need.  You have to figure out how to get them to work together.  You have to get them to learn how to learn.  You have to teach them specific content.  You have to…well, you get the point.  This would be a list the size of the internet if I put everything that you need to do on this level of teaching.

Add to that, you have to deal with student issues, behaviors, and struggles.  You have students with bad days.  You have students who don’t get along.  You have students who have IEPs.  You have students that are ESOL.  You have students with BIPs.  You have students that come from environments that do not reinforce what you are teaching.  You have students who are lacking the skills with which they should have had before getting to you.  You have students who need to learn some social skills that are lacking.  You have students who can’t sit still.  You have students on multiple levels of abilities.  You have students who don’t care.  You have students that care too much.  You have a thousand other specifics here.  You have more than a handful of things to think about besides what you teach at any given moment.

On top of all of this, you have voices and critics from the outside.  There is administration telling you how to teach and not teach.  You have teams and other teachers giving advice on how you can better reach your students.  You have parents giving you feedback on what they feel like you are doing wrong.  You have district level people changing the expectations for you left and write.  You have the state making curriculum changes that wildly affect the students that sit in your classroom.  You have an ever changing landscape of standards to muddle through.  You have the world of education with the ever-growing list of best practices, current theories/strategies, and 21st century skills that you just have to incorporate into your classroom and instruction.  You have a million different directions that you are being asked to go everyday.

And then there is you.

All alone.

In your classroom.

With your students.

And you are awesome.

In all of this, you chose to have one focus, and one focus only.

Your students.

You know that it is those young minds that matter most.

And you make it work.

You do everything that you can do to protect your students from all of the other stuff.  You are the umbrella that covers them.  You are the shield.  You are their cover from the mess all around them and you.

Teacher, you try your best to be bullet-proof.

But it is not for you,; it is for them.

I want to encourage you, friend.  You are doing the right thing by focusing on the students before all else.  You are making good choices.  You are making a difference.

I know that it is hard.  It is really, really, really hard sometimes.  But keep going.  Keep fighting.  Keep doing what you do.

It is difficult to be made of titanium, but sometimes you have to be.  I know that you know that it will be worth it for those students sitting in your desks in your room.  Don’t give up.  Don’t stop.  You are an amazing teacher!  I mean that.  I really do!

You are so awesome!  You don’t always feel that way, but it is so very true.  You do what needs to be done for students.  This is why you are a great teacher.  Don’t forget that!  Never stop!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

[Teachers] Like Us…


Dear Teacher,

Welcome to a new week.  For the N. Hemisphere, the summer is about half over (or getting there).  The new school year is looming ever closer…and the great teachers are slowly starting to gear up for it.

For this reason, I decided that it is time to dust off the old favorite of my posting genres and put up a theme song for the week post.   I went looking for a song, and did I ever find one.  I think this song (and video—sans the product placements) is one of the best teacher theme songs ever.  I may adopt is as my theme song for the new year!  We’ll see.

For those new to this blog, click play and read on.  When you are done reading, you may want to go back and watch the video.  It is pretty cool if you think about it in light of our role as teachers.

Teacher, your job is hard.

Few people, besides fellow teachers, understand what it is like.

What we do is taxing all on its own.

Teaching and teaching how to learn while balancing the needs of individual students and their families is not a simple task, but it is one of the most important in the world.

We have a lot to think about.

We love a challenge, and our profession is full of them.

On top of this, though, we are also beat up and blamed for many of the woes of society.  People that do not understand what it is that we do make the choices about how we are to do it.  When things don’t work out, who gets credit for what is wrong?  Yup.  Us.

Yes, Teacher, your job is hard.

But you wouldn’t trade it for the world…most of the time.

Even when you are going through the toughest time in your teaching life and everything inside of you is telling you to quit…except that one small voice that tells you to go on.

Teaching is your blood and you know it is what you were made to do.

That one small voice is a powerful one.

The cool thing is that there is not just one small voice.

All great teachers have that small voice that urges us to go on.

The voice screams and reminds us why we do what we do.

Our students…the children…the young adults…the future.

When we see the faces, when we remember the challenges that will face those faces one day, we have the small spark to get our fire going.

And you are surrounded by other teachers with that same voice and that same spark.

Teachers like us are all around.

And when the fire that burns in all of us burns together…we are a force to be reckoned with.

I am not talking about the world and legislation and banding together over that…that is another story for another blog.

I am talking about being a force against the challenges of being a great teacher for our students, no matter what is said or done on the red tape side of teaching and the hardships that we face.

Teacher, no matter what you have gone through as a teacher, you can get back up!

You are surrounded by teachers like you to help you up.

The small voice inside of you is a crowd and a mob that is all around you.

Just look up.

Just keep going.

Teachers like us will make a difference.

Teachers like us will change the future for our students.

Teachers like us will keep going and keep our students going.

Look around.

Teachers like you are all around.

Keep going, Teacher!

Keep that fire going!

Do it for you.

Do it for your students.

Do it for and with teachers like you!

You are awesome!  Keep going, Teacher, and keep on teaching!

Love, Teacher

Happy Medley (don’t worry, Teacher)


Dear Teacher,

I have been so busy this month, can you tell?  Sorry for space between notes to you!  Hopefully everything will settle down after Christmas break.  I hope!

Well, even though it is mid-week, I figure that we all could still use a theme song for the week.  Click play and then read on.

The message is simple today, which I have been saying a lot lately…it is nonetheless true.  🙂

Don’t worry, Teacher.

School can be hectic.  There is so much to do.  There is so little time.  Teaching is tough.

It is easy to get caught up in the cycle of stress.  We get worn out.  We start to let plates fall.  The stress builds.  We get even more tired.  We let more plates fall.  More stress.  More tired.  More broken plates on the floor.  And the story goes on and on this way.

We teachers like to worry.  Okay, we don’t like it, but we are drawn to worry.  We have to worry.  There is often no choice but to worry.

Stress is coworker.  It is in our classroom.  It comes in with the students.  It comes in with the administrators.  It comes in with our fellow teachers.

It surrounds us.  It swallows us whole.  It is the lurking monster around every corner.  We walk on eggshells trying not to let it know that we are around.

Such is the life of a a teacher.  Stress and worry.

And that is just the school stuff!  I won’t even go into the stress and worry that comes along with the rest of our lives.  Family.  Friends.  Life in general.

And all of this just gets magnified this time of year.  I am writing this before Christmas, but pick the time of year and there is probably something to magnify stress and worry for us.

So what do we do?

We remember one thing…it will all eventually be all right.  Everything’s going to be all right.

We can stress less.  We can.

We can not worry so much.  It is true.

We just have to prioritize and focus.

Easier said than done…but we can do it.

It is not a crime to let some plates drop.  We can clean up the mess and move on.  It is not a big deal.  It just isn’t.

To quote my friend Pete the Cat when he lost one of his groovy buttons, “Do we cry?  Goodness no!  Buttons come and buttons go.”  We can keep on singing our song!

Stuff, stress, and worries come and go.  They do.  They do not have to drive us to the brink.  They don’t.

Don’t worry, Teacher.  Every little thing is going to be all write.

Don’t worry, be happy.

It is okay to be happy.

Be happy today.  Do it for your students.   Do it for you.  Find something about what needs to happen today and the rest of the week that makes you happy and let that drive you.  Don’t worry so much.  Be happy!

I know that you can!  I believe in you!

(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)

As I said, I am writing this before Winter Break.  If you are reading this before break, take the rest of the week and make it less stressful.  Find a way.  Be happier.  It is okay.  You are allowed to do that from time to time.  You and your students will be better for it!

You are awesome and amazing, as usual.  You can and do try to stress less and be happier.  Good for you!  You students are definitely reaping the benefits of it!  You are making a difference in their life by showing them it is possible to stress less and be happier.  They will need those lessons one day!  You are so great and I believe in you so much!  Go get it today and make today great!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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