No one can really measure your worth. I mean really. There is no way to distill everything you do or simplify it into a formula.
Plain and simple, you are there for students. You know what to do in most situations in your classroom most of the time. If you don’t, you look for answers and experiment with solutions.
Programs are good, Curriculum is vital. Tests can help us know progress. But they are not you!
You can scan the room on Monday morning and know who has had a rough weekend and may need a little break, something from your desk that makes them smile, or just a simple hug.
You know the fine art of convincing students to try harder. You are keen on when and how to coach them through failures to master a concept. You are a pro at inspiring students not used to working at a problem until they solve it to do just that…work with grit until they get there. You know that being a little upset, and sometimes a few tears, are a part of the process for students like that. You know when to help and when not to, it is one of your gifts.
You are aware of your students at all times. You know authentically where they are in the content and stages of learning it. You don’t always need a data wall to tell what learning and growth is happening at those desks and tables in your classroom. You just know. It is who you are. It is what you do. And you know how to push each one just a little deeper in and higher up in what they know and can do.
You, my Teacher friend, are a professional. You are good at what you do. Without you we just have programs, curriculum, and tests. But education is oh so much more than that. Students are oh so much more than that. They need oh so much more than that.
Students need you. The system needs you. Education needs you. We all need you.
Thank you for each and everything that you do. Seriously, thank you! Thank you for fighting for students and for what is right. Keep it up. You know the stakes. You are worth it. You are awesome. And, as always, you rock.
The hallway is clean and shiny as if the floors have just been waxed this morning. You hear your footsteps echo in click-clacks down the hall as you walk slowly and peer into the rooms through the windows on the doors. The rooms are empty, but today you have a strange sense of curiosity about what this place was like some time in the distant past.
Your parents told you stories about what school was like for them. How strange it must have been to have an actual person in the room leading the class in discussions and activities that happened in the room you were in with them. You can not even imagine. Even when you were in school, instruction happened more from a distance and interactions with the others there with you were few and far between.
You stop at a room that you heard used to be a science class. As you look into the room that has been filled with rows of console stations, probably 40-50 total, you think about what it might of looked liked with lab tables and equipment for real experimentation. Holy crap, it must have been so unsafe. You pause at the thought, and then smile. You bet it was fun.
You remember your mom telling you that one of her teachers once brought in a balloon. You can’t remember what you said she told you it was filled with, but it floated like a helium balloon you recall from childhood birthdays. She said that the teacher lit a match on a long pole and touched it to the balloon and it turned into a fireball. A small one, but a fireball, all the same. It was probably frightening. But still, again you smile, it was probably also amazing.
As you think about that, you also have a memory of your mom telling you about the time that same teacher brought her family a pizza one Friday night. What a nice person to be willing to do that. She said that her parents gave the teacher money. You don’t know why. She also told you that the teacher had on a hat of the pizza company. The guy must have really liked that pizza.
As you walk away, saddened a little, you think about how when you were a student, there were seldom times you really knew your teachers. They were in the room some of the time, but it was more about checking on progress than teaching you anything. You had your digital learning system doing most of that work, so teachers did not have to worry about that much. They were too busy to help you learn because the digital systems were still glitchy when you were in school and they needed to work out the kinks.
Besides, as your parents told you, most of the great teachers they had or knew about moved on from the world of working with students. They said they could not afford to do it anymore. Teaching was a job that did not pay well and had a lot of responsibility. That must be part of the reason the profession was phased out. Even when you were in school a lot of states did not even use the word anymore.
Your title, Educational Facilitation Technician, does suit what the role has become better, anyway. Your facility only requires six total to handle the 600-plus student load. Efficiency is key. There is no need for the extra effort, because the learning systems handle all of that.
Still, you think as you arrive at your small office to load the systems to the consoles in the room, you think about how it might have been to be a teacher. As you sit down and launch the program to the rooms on your hall, your wonder where all of the teachers went to and those that might have become one are doing in the world that you live in.
With a sigh, you sit and watch the code on your monitors and wait for the learning to begin.
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.
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.
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!
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…
THAT IS NOT YOU.
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!
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!
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!
PS…Send me a message here if you are interested in what I am doing.
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!