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Losing and Finding Your Voice

Dear Teacher,

I know I haven’t been around. And for that I am sorry. I really am.

I have tried to make my comeback and that has led to a lot of stops and starts. To be honest, I have been at a loss. Not writer’s block exactly. I have just been at a loss for words. I just haven’t know what to say.

I don’t ever want this to be about anything political. My goal has always been to be an encouragement and hope to all of you who pour your heart out every day to students, families, and communities. But something has changed since the last presidential election. The world has shifted. And everything seems a little upside down.

Image Source – Netflix Stranger Things

And I just haven’t known what to say. I don’t know how to encourage. I don’t know what hope that you need. My words have been gone. My voice has been hoarse.

We have all have had the experience as teachers when we get sick, have allergies, or just plain run out of voice. We can barely speak, yet we need to teach. We have no voice let, yet we need to use it. Our throat hurts, yet the words must come.

That is how I have felt when it comes to writing to you. Everything I think I want to say seems to come out scratchy and distorted. My voice is not clear and my words seem all jumbled.


Just like in the classroom, our lack of voice is not always forever. Our throats clear. Our words return.

And that is where I am now. I think I know what my voice might be here. I can still be a conduit of challenge, hope, and encouragement. I can still help you know how awesome that you are and cheer you on in your fight for students.

And that fight…that fight is where we are as educators. The fight is as big as it has always been, and it is moving into new arenas and to new stages. The fight is bigger than each individual classroom. The fight is more than just the students in your room, but it is for the students in every room…and for the teachers that teach them…and you are finding your voice there now, too.

This image belongs to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher – if you use, credit and link to

We are all starting to see that our teacher voice is important. It is needed. We use it to call attention in our classroom and our schools…and now it is being heard in our communities, states, and country. And many of us are now using that voice.

The fight for students is a noble one. It is hard in the classroom, but it is even harder outside of it. And I still want to be here for you in that fight. I am here for you in what you need to do to reach and change the future for our students.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still not going to make this about anything political, but I might be mixing in some thoughts of hope about the other struggles you are working against. You need to remember that you are worth the trouble because you are making the world better for students.

So I applaud you for doing what you feel needs to be done. It is not wrong to seek a world that makes reaching and teaching students to change their future a priority. Your voice deserves to be heard, and I am glad you are finding it.

And I am finding mine to spur you on. All I ask that if you like a post, share it. If you have a thought, send it. And if you need me to encourage you in something here, just ask.

Teacher, you are amazing! You do awesome and incredible things for the sake of those kids that are in your class and in your heart! Please do not give up hope. Please do not give up faith. You do matter. You are important. And you most definitely are making a difference! YOU ROCK!

Love, Teacher

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Teacher, You Are…

Dear Teacher,

Any where you look you are probably able to find someone who has an opinion about education, the system, and teachers as a whole…and a lot of those ideas and thoughts are not exactly positive most of the time.

And, even though you are thick-skinned and strong, there are times that these words are going to hurt, irritate, and infuriate you.  I just want you to remember something, though…

Whatever they say…

Whatever they think…

Whatever they insinuate…


You are more than the opinions depict.  You are more than the negative headlines.  You are more than the system.  You are more than your school.  You are more than even your grade level at the school.

You are your students’ teacher.  You are the key to your classroom.  You are who knows those kids in your room this year and who knows what they need.  You know how to meet those needs…AND if you don’t, you know how to find those answers.  You are an advocate and have what it takes do to what it takes for those souls in your care.

In short, you, my teacher friend, are amazing!

I encourage you and implore you to realize your greatness for the moments you have with your students and do what you think is right!

Will it always be noticed?  If noticed, will it always be applauded?  Will the system see it your way and change?  Will the world understand what it takes to do what you do?

Most likely, no on all accounts…but do not let that sway you!

Continue in your courage to do what it right.  Be you.  Be awesome.  Don’t let the voices or opposing forces stop you.  Your students need you, and you have got this!

I know it is not easy, but you have seriously got this!

I believe in you, Teacher, and I am not the only one!  You are an amazing teacher, and I know you will survive and do what is the right thing to do by your students.  Thank you for all you do!

Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love,  Teacher

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The Next 40 Years…

Dear Teacher,

It has been WAY TOO LONG!  I know.  I know.  I didn’t call.  I didn’t write.  I left you high and dry.  And for that I am truly sorry!

Since I left the traditional classroom and went to work at a science center, life has been a lot more interesting and chaotic (in a good way)…and a lot of my creative juices have been spent at work and with my new hobby (3D printing)…but that is no excuse, and I want to do better.  Better for you!

I have been waiting for something pressing on my heart to share with you to give me a jump-start to get back into the habit of writing.  I finally found something that I can not hold back from writing to you about…and that something is me!

No, no, no…this is not about telling you how great I am or something awesome I have done.  No, really, it is kind of the opposite.  And I want to share this with you because I know it is common among so many of us that spend our lives educating and caring for the next generations.  I think you or someone you know can relate, so I need to talk about it.

I had stop caring for me in my care for others…students, other educators, my family, my friends, and everybody else.  I let myself and my health be something that I did not worry about.  I was a good person…being mindful of me and my body was hard and I was doing good for others, so I would be okay…right?  I just didn’t need to worry about it…right?

At the end of December last year and into this year, I was at my unhealthiest.  I weight more than I have ever weight…exact numbers I can not give you because I stopped getting on the scale because I just could not know…I could not take it…but I am pretty sure I was somewhere between 295 and 305 pounds.  I was ALWAYS tired.  I caught every bug and virus that went through the schools.  And I am pretty sure I was starting to enter a depression cycle.

I was a mess.  I truly was!

A gym opened up just a couple of miles from my house, so I determined myself that I was going to join and that would be my catalyst for change.  And so in April I finally did.

I worked out nearly every day for months.  I lost somewhere in the range of 20-25 pounds.  My body was in a bit better shape, but all of the loss plateaued and I was still in the state of sick to unsick (waiting to get sick again) and still teetering on the edge of depression.

I still loved my job, my family, and my life…but still something was not right.

My mother-in-law started a health program over the summer and had started to talk to me about it.  I was not super interested because in my mind it was another expensive program that would work for a while and then I would get bored or it would not work and I would wind up back in the same boat I had been in just a little more broke than I was before.

No thanks.  I will keep busting my rear end at the gym and do this alone.

That continued to barely move me any further towards feeling better.  I finally decided that I might need to consider the fact that I can not do this on my own.  I needed to feel better.  I needed my blood pressure down (I hate the medicine I take…and the others have worse side-effects).  I needed a change.  Even if no other diet has ever worked for me, it is working for her and long-term…maybe, just maybe it would work for me.

I jumped in…with a bit of financial help from my father-in-law…I could not convince myself that the money was worth getting closer to broke yet.

I am so glad I did…not because I am losing weight (and a lot of it)…no, I am glad because this plan is NOT about losing weight.  This plan is about getting healthy.

I am not writing to you to tell you about the plan I am on…this is not the point…this is NOT an ad.  If you are interested, send me a message here and I will get back to you…but the point of this message is not what I am doing to get healthy…but the fact that, yes, I am finally getting healthy.

I can not believe how good I feel.  More than that, I feel more like my old teacher self that I have in a very, very, VERY long time.  I have more energy to do all of the extra it takes to be a great teacher…the ideas come as easy as they used to…I am excited about the parts of teaching that used to excite me…and I am not dead on my feet at the end of the day and I have more of me left after school to still be me for my family and friends!  It is truly amazing!

And the last few days I have been thinking, how did I let myself get into the state I was in and not think it is important to change that?

It is not that I did not want to change…I just did not know how to change.  I did not get unhealthy over night.  It took years and years to get there.  One unhealthy habit at a time, I slowly spiraled out of control and health spiraled out of my reach.  I did not know how to get back, and every big move I tried (through the gym and diets) started to turn me around, but none of it was capable of getting me all the way back…because one thing will not do it.

I have learned that the way back is through habits and mindsets just like the way to my sickly state was through habits and mindsets.  If I want to get healthy, I can only do it one healthy habit at a time.  Losing weight is just the beginning…it was always my goal before.  Now it is just the “reset” that will allow me to start back down the road of health.  And it has been great!

The left was me in July after working out since April. The right is me after almost four weeks of taking my health seriously.

I share this to encourage you.  If you are in the state I was in, YOU CAN CHANGE IT!  There is no “one way” to change.  You have to find what works for you and think about it as going one step and one habit at a time.  Do you snack too much?  Trade one snack for a healthier one.  Do you not drink enough water?  Set yourself a small goal and keep increasing it.  Do you sit too much?  Pick an activity during the day that you sit during and then start standing instead.  The little things add up and you can most certainly do this!

I accidentally started my health journey the year I turned 40.  I can’t believe how unhealthy I was!  Now that I am slowly getting healthy, I am seriously looking down the road at the next 40 years and seeing how different they can and will be.  I can still be around for my family and friends down the road…I can teach as long as the teaching world lets me (and I still want to)…I can enjoy life and not always wonder if I am going to be sick tomorrow (outside of something that can come without health being an issue)…I can be me and maybe even make plans for the next 40 after this 40 is over!  Okay, that is a bit of hyperbole…I don’t think I will live to be 120…but you know what I mean!

Teacher, you’ve got this, and you can change!  As always, I completely believe in you!  You are awesome!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love,  Teacher

PS…Send me a message here if you are interested in what I am doing.

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Goodnight Room…A Bedtime Story for Teachers

Dear Teacher,

I thought that you might enjoy a little bedtime story as the new school year begins.  Enjoy!

And as always, YOU ROCK!

Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

DearTeacherLT2017 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Goodnight Room by Joseph Blizzard
Inspired by and parody of Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

In the pretty good, green classroom
(that would be better if there were
more than five minutes between meetings)

There was a station for phones
(that will no doubt need to be taken up…
perhaps spinner toys will fit there, too)

And a fidget stress-ball made from a balloon
(that is currently supposed to be for
students, but it may become Teacher’s)

And an interactive whiteboard presentation of-
(and made by the super-techie teammate after
Teacher spent hours trying to do it alone)

The cow jumping over the moon
(because, well, who doesn’t want to make the
cow jump over the moon?)

And there was a square of alternate seating chairs
(that the class roster showed will be needed
because of the many IEPs for ADHD)

And a poster of kittens
(with a growth-mindset reminder for all
in the class to just “hang in there”)

Image source:

And a hidden place for a pair of mittens
(for when the district-mandated thermostat
setting requires their need in winter)

And picture of Teacher’s house
(so the students know Teacher doesn’t
live at school…and Teacher can remember
what it looks like on the long
afternoons of grades and conferences)

And a young mouse
(that administration swears will
be taken care of very soon)

And a comb and a brush
and a bowl and a packet of oatmeal mush
(for when there is no time in the
morning to look like a human and
eat a more human like breakfast
before Teacher leaves the house)

And a chair in the corner for when Teacher
is tired and stressed and just whispers “hush”
(which may be the end of the year, or halfway
through, or might just be next week)

Goodnight light
(that Teacher can finally turn off because
the work that should have been done when
there was meetings and is as done as it
is going to be before students come)

Goodnight stress-ball red balloon
(that Teacher is considering taking home
after spending afternoon and into the
night in the classroom)

Goodnight square of chairs
(that Teacher is trying not to think
about already moving around the room)

Goodnight alternate seating chairs
(that Teacher knows is going to cause
problems because there aren’t enough
for each and every student)

Goodnight “hang in there” kittens
(that Teacher will probably need
to heed the words of often)

Goodnight mittens
(that hopefully will not be needed
this year, but most definitely will be)

Goodnight clocks
(that Teacher put around the room so
maybe the students will learn time-management)

Goodnight socks
(that teacher turned into puppets because
of the strangest IEP ever seen)

Goodnight Teacher’s house
(that Teacher will soon see for the
very short time that Teacher will
be home before coming back in)

Goodnight mouse
(that Teacher hopes never to
have to see again)

Goodnight comb
Goodnight brush
(that Teacher will probably need
in the morning because it is already
so late right now)

Goodnight nobody
(that Teacher hopes is nobody after
hearing noises in the empty halls)

Goodnight packet of oatmeal mush
(that Teacher will also probably
need in the morning)

Goodnight to the chair where Teacher
will soon be whispering hush
(it will definitely be next week,
Teacher just doesn’t know yet)

Goodnight stars
(that Teacher got the crafty teammate
to make for the bulletin board)

Goodnight moon
(that was also made by the ever
crafty teammate for said board)

Goodnight air
(that will soon be filled with the
not-so-pleasant student smells soon)

Goodnight noises that will soon be everywhere
(that Teacher will be irritated with
but has also kind of missed this summer
because with all of the frustrations
Teacher still loves being a Teacher)

DearTeacherLT2017 (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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Every Little Thing Teachers Do…

DearTeacherLT2017 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

The image says everything I want to say.  No, I am not saying that EVERYTHING we are required to do is worth it…not meaning this to be political in anyway, but not all we do is for a purpose for the sake of students (though I think some of that stuff is meant to do that)…what I am saying is that all of those little unspoken, unsung, and unnoticed things you do for the students because you have their best interest in mind do matter and make a difference.  And I just want to thank you for those things!

Thank you for buying food for those kids who don’t get enough.

Thank you for buying extra pencils because a pencil is not worth the fight.

Thank you for the walks you take with some kids at recess.

Thank you for always trying to make your lessons better to connect with those struggling students.

Thank you for putting your students and their needs before everything else!

It is your heart.  It is who you are.  It is what you do.  It is what makes you an amazing teacher.  So thank you, thank you, thank you!

You are awesome!  You matter!  And you do make a difference!  Thank you for you!  You rock!  Keep on being you and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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A Little Time for You, Teacher

Dear Teacher,

Yes, a new year is coming.  It is true.  But summer has a little time left for you.  Don’t let your hopes, dreams, and anxieties about the next group you will be teaching take up all of the moments that remain.  Remember not to forget to carve out a little space for yourself, your family/friends, and all that you love doing that take the back-burner during the school year.  You know doing so helps you to be centered, relaxed, and ready for the challenges ahead.  That means getting ready for next year requires you to be a little selfish.  It is okay.  I promise.  Your next class(es) need you to.  When you are relaxed and ready, you can change the world!

So take some time for you.  You deserve it.  You need it.

Did I mention that you rock and are an amazing teacher and person?  Well, you are!  Take that time for you…and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

DearTeacherLT2017 (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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Lacing Up Your Shoes…A New Year is Coming

DearTeacherLT2017 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

You never cease to amaze.

Despite each year before,
and after a little rest,
You look forward to the next
And are ready for some more.

This a part of who you are,
It’s what makes you great.
It’s what makes you amazing.
It’s what makes you a teacher.

You take the bumps.
You take the lumps.
You heal the bruises
And you get back up again.

DearTeacherLT2016 – This image is a part of the Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs-volume two (click for more information…these posters will be great for your classroom next year! 🙂

No matter what happens
You find a way to rally
You lace up your shoes
And you start again.

You know the road is hard.
You know the road is long.
You know the way is not easy.
You know the way is tough.

But you also know
That you can take it.
You know that the end
is worth the journey.

This a shirt designed by a friend of mine…you know I love the message! Click the picture to find out how to buy the shirt.

This is who you are.
This is what you do.
This is in your soul.
This is the heart of a teacher.

Students are worth the pain.
Students are worth the struggle
And you DO make a difference.
This year will be the same.

Don’t be ashamed to be excited.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
The coming year is yours.
You CAN do this all again.

You are incredible.
You are awesome.
And you ROCK!
Thank you for being you.

Love, Teacher