Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Reflection, Weekend Note

As You Look Back…

Dear Teacher,

How was your week?  Was it a rough one?  Was it a “blah” one?  Was it the best week ever?

Looking back is a part of our job.  It is a part of what we do.  It is a part of who we are.  It is a vital function to the process of teaching.  We have to do it.  Good or bad, we have to analyze the week.  What went wrong?  What went right?  What worked?  What didn’t?  Where did you thrive?  Where did you fall on your face?

Reflection can be hard.  It is hard to relive the week, sometimes.  But we need to do it.  We have to.  As painful as it can be, we have to go through it day by day.  This is the only way to become a better teacher and let your awesome shine in the weeks to come.

As you look back, though, focus.  What matters most?  What are the most important things that you need to do in your role as a teacher at your school (and any other roles that you might have)?  What do your students need most?  What do they need to learn?  What do they need to learn about learning for themselves?  What do your students need outside of learning?  What do they need to become better, independent Earth dwellers one day?

What does your school need from you most?  What do your colleagues need from you?  What does your family need from you?  What do you need from you?  I mean truly need.  

What matters most?

Let what matters most be the mirror that you judge yourself by.  There are so many little things, the minutia of teaching, that can get us wrapped around the axle of the teacher’s life.  These things can stress us out.  These are the things that wipe us out.  These are the things that can lead to burnout quickest.  These are the things that don’t lead to what matters most.

Fun=House Mirror

Don’t reflect by these muddle puddles.  They are fun-house mirrors.  They are not a real reflection of you as a teacher.  They do not show you who you really are.  They are a false reflection.  Don’t judge yourself by these things!  Easier said than done, but you are going to have to let those things go.

Let them go. 

Let them go.

Let them go.


What matters most?

Use the “matters most” for reflection.  How was your week when you look at those things?  What do you need to change?  What are you doing well?  How will you make the “matters most” matter more next week?

Mirror – Ikea

Look back, Teacher.  How are you doing?  How was this week?

You are awesome!  You know what matters most.  You know how to let the other stuff go.  You are making a difference…what matters most is your goal.  This makes you amazing!  Keep on focusing and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk, Teaching Power, Weekend Note

As You Plan…

Dear Teacher,

A new week approaches.  A new performance.  A new show.  A new presentation.

You do the research.  You make the plans.  You write the script.  You learn your part.  You practice, practice, practice (even if only in your mind).

You do your best to be ready for when the curtain opens.

You breathe through the Sunday night “butterflies” as the time to go “on” is only hours away.

This is the weekend for you, a teacher.

Breathe, Teacher.  Breathe.

And let some of the worries go.

Let them go?




Because you know that as soon as you step in the door on Monday, your plans will already be changed.  You know that you can never really know what the week will throw at you.  You will have to monitor.  You will have to adjust.  And just when your adjustments are adjusted, you will have to monitor again…and adjust.  And monitor and adjust.  Monitor and adjust.  And monitor and adjust…all because you are a GREAT TEACHER.

Great teachers do not let plans and preparations rule the week.  They are just what they are.  Plans and preparations.  The week has a plan of its own…and though you don’t let the week master you, you move and roll with it so you can master the week.  Plans are not the end, they are just the means, and they can change.  Your students and their needs are the end.  You know the path to the end will change, and that doesn’t matter as long as you get to the end.

(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)

You, amazing teacher, know what it takes to be an amazing teacher.  Not because you are trying to be amazing, but because your students matter most.  This is why you need to let go of some of the stress and Sunday night anxiety.  Your plans will not work the way you planned them this weekend.  Your ideas for the week will change.  You will be thrown curve balls on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  You will have to monitor and adjust, monitor and adjust, and monitor and adjust.  But…you will make the right choices because you will think about your students above all else.

(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)

So, plan and prepare away, Teacher.  We do need to plan, I am not saying we don’t.  I am just saying that I think we need to let go of some of the Sunday, pre-week stress.  It will all work out by Friday if we keep our students as our focus and make the needed weekly choices based on them and not the pressures that come from sources that are not our students.

I promise you, I am speaking to myself as much as I am to you…if not more!

Let’s remember our lost goal this week as we get ready for Monday…our students and their needs.

Let’s remember and breathe.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

This is going to be a great week!

You will be ready when the curtain goes up tomorrow!

You are so awesome!  You are one amazing teacher!  You are going to make an impact on those students of yours this week, I just know it!  I believe in you because you believe in your students!  Be amazing and awesome this week!  I know you will be!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Just have to share!  I remembered that I had some cool video editing software.  I did a little experimental project.  It is not great, but it is a start into adding some Dear Teacher/Love Teacher videos into the mix of encouragement.  What do you think?  Be nice.  🙂

Motivational ABCs: The Movie

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!  🙂

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.”


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!


  • 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!


  • 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.


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.)


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!


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


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

Posted in Announcement, Challenge, Weekend Note

Facebooking, TpT Storing, and Contest Announcing

Dear Teacher,

Great Saturday morning to you!  I hope you are relaxing off your week and getting ready for another one!  I just wanted to announce a few things this morning.  I think you really like one of the announcements!

  • Later today or tomorrow I will be starting a series of posts that I will put up on the weekends.  The Secret Occupations of Teachers, or S.O.o.T. for short.  I will be talking about some of the things that we do that most people don’t know and how being a teacher is not just about teaching.  I will acknowledge one of our “other jobs,” encourage you in that “job,” and give you a little challenge in your role in that “job.”  I am excited about starting this, and I hope you will enjoy reading them and find a lot of encouragement from them!
  • I am  repeating the push for sharing the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Facebook Page this weekend that I did last weekend.  The more people that here the messages of hope, the further this Teacher Encouragement revolution will spread!  If you haven’t “Liked” the page, please do and join us!  If you have or after you do, share!  Share, share, share the page with everyone you know involved in education!  Let’s see how far we can push this in one weekend!  The number of page members tripled last week, let’s see if we can do that again!
  • This might be a motivation for you to want to join and share the  Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Facebook Page.  Tomorrow I am going to announce a giveaway there!  The number of winners will be determined by the number of “Likes” on the page and the number of people who participate in the contest.  For every 25 Likes on the FB page, there will be one winner in the giveaway.  “Like” and share!  The more the merry…who is not merrier when then win something?!
  • A quick note on the  Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Facebook Page that might motivate you to “Like,” if you haven’t: I am going to start doing a majority of the promoting of the blog there and on Twitter.  I am going to leave the Edmodo promoting more up to you.  I would love to have each of you share the blog with your Connections and one Community that you are in each day!  I would also love to have one person in charge of promoting in each of the main communities.  I call dibs on Science!  🙂
  • Last but not least, I have finished another resource for the Teachers Pay Teachers Store, and I am very excited about this one! It is a printable note based on the image on this post.  I don’t know if you can tell, but the “I Heart Your Awesomeness” image is my favorite one so far!  The note is in a series of PDF files and four manipulable Word documents.  The note is in a variety of sizes and comes as both B&W and color images.  You can print and then use space to write a quick note and pass it on to a teacher or student to encourage and give hope!  I plan on using these myself.  I am so excited to just have them for myself.  The Note of Awesomeness is on sale for $1 (28 printable pages for $1 is not bad at all…I’ve paid more than that for one thank you note!).
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use this picture if you link back to my blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use this picture if you link back to my blog.)

Thank you for indulging me in making these announcements!  I hope you have an amazing weekend!  Look for the S.O.o.T. post later today or tomorrow as well as more information about the Facebook giveaway!

You are an awesome and amazing teacher.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Weekend Note

A Note from George Lucas: Celebrating Unsung Heroes in Education | Edutopia

Dear Teacher,

For today’s post, I am just going to give a link to a note of thanks from George Lucas on his blog on his education foundation’s site, Edutopia (my new favorite website!).  It was written on Teacher Appreciation Day this year.  I liked it and thought you might.

A Note from George Lucas: Celebrating Unsung Heroes in Education | Edutopia.

I hope your weekend is as awesome as you are!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

For more hope and encouragement: @DearTeacherLT (Twitter) and Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Facebook Page.