The Beautiful Music of Education – #Teacher Song


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 and World,

Wow, this is the very first time that I addressed someone here besides teachers!

The reason I want to invite everyone in on this post (and future posts like this one) is because there is a something that teachers and other educators realize that others may not.  The education discussion starts on the wrong track because there is something that happens day after day and year after year in most classrooms, and it is something that cannot be measured.  There is magic and beauty.

Students start in one place in the year academically and they should end in academic growth, that is for sure.  But that is just the tip of the iceberg.  They also start somewhere socially, somewhere emotionally, somewhere with work ethic, somewhere with empathy, somewhere in the understanding of self…and it is in the classroom that growth in these areas happen, as well.  Sometimes, growth in these areas far outweighs academics, and academic growth can’t happen until the other changes do.

And these things are not quite as measurable as academics…but they are far more beautiful.

Beauty can’t be tested, but it can be shared.  And it should be shared.

So I sent the call out to teachers two days ago to share their stories with me so I can share them with you.  I have been overwhelmed by the response and stories I have received.  The teaching and learning process, for both teachers and students, is such an incredible aspect of life.  I can’t help but share it with you.

The following are three stories from three different places in the US.  The schools, states, and grade levels are all different…but the beauty is the same.  Please read and take in how amazing education truly is!

Teacher Rita from Wisconsin:

We’ve been working on shoe-tying in kindergarten. We feel it’s important for several reasons. One, it builds fine-motor skills. Two, it builds perseverance strategies to deal with frustration. Three, it makes kids feel successful! One little boy just couldn’t get it…until…he DID!!! He had his mom video him tying and posted it to my Facebook page. He was sooooo proud! His mom was too, she wrote, “You are amazing! He has been working so hard and is so excited to show you in person! He even told me he wants to bring my shoe to school to show his class…. ” What a feeling for all three of us!

Teacher M from Maryland:

This is my 18th year of being a classroom educator. I have taught in Ohio and Maryland, and would not change my profession for ANYTHING in the world. I work with Co-teach sections of 6th and 7th grade Science in a Title 1 school. Many of my students do not have a great home environment.

During the course of the year, my students learn Science topics, but I also try to get them to understand that our class is like a family…dysfunctional as it may be at times with 24+ pre-teens/teenagers in a room. Because I am in a new building this year, I do not have the immunity that I had at my previous school, so I have been out sick a lot. The last time I was out some of my students got together and made a card for me and chipped in together to buy me a little stuffed octopus. The look of joy on their faces when I was reading the card and looking inside my “goodie” bag to find Octo was priceless! These students have so little and don’t realize how rich they really are if they but look past their circumstances. My students constantly keep me going and I love them for it!

Teacher Irene from Iowa:

I am a middle and high school special education math teacher. This is my seventh career, and I have finally found my calling. This story is about my Life Skills Math class from this year. These are the lowest kids we have in our school. My goal every year is to equip them with the math skills they will need to be successful and not get taken advantage of after high school. I work with these students year after year, so we grow quite close as a group. This is my eighth year teaching.

I never, ever, thought I’d be able to teach multiplication to this group. I see the need for some instant recall of facts at the higher levels, but wasn’t convinced that these students would benefit from that knowledge. Or that they’d even be able to retain the info.

But I’m a risk-taker, and these kids have grown tremendously this year, so I thought I’d give it a try as we’ve spent a good part of the year practicing skip counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s. I researched and came up with strategies for the “easiest” multiplication. And one of my students presented a strategy for multiplying by 6’s that I had never heard of!!! I fully believe she may have come up with it on her own…

I am extremely proud to say that my students can now multiply by 0, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10!!!! I have made colorful signs to hang on the wall reminding us of the strategies for each. I cannot wait to see what they do next year!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but be blown away by stories like these…both as a fellow teacher and as the parent of a child in school (soon to be two in school).  Teachers, administrators, and school staff help make magic happen every day and every year, and it is amazing!

World, thanks for reading and taking a glimpse at what we get to see every day at schools and in our classrooms.  Please know that there is more that is going on than can be measured on a test.  Great things really are happening!  I will share more of them with you soon.

Teacher, I hope you found something else besides just the beauty in these stories.  I hope you found yourself.  I hope you were thinking about the amazing things you see happening all of the time.  These are what count.  These are what we are meant to focus on.  What beautiful things have you seen in your time as a teacher?  Will you share them with me?  Check out this post to find out how you can share your classroom magic with me and let me help you join the Teacher Song that the world needs to hear!

You are amazing!  Thanks for all you do, Teacher.  Keep making those magically beautiful things happen!  Keep on teaching!  You rock!

-Love Teacher

 

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What You Can’t Afford to Lose


Dear Teacher,

I am sorry that I have had little to no time to write to you this school year.  Like you, I have been pulled in a thousand different directions today, and it has taken everything inside of me to keep focused on the one thing that matters: my students.  It has beat me up to do this, but I think that, most days, I have kept that focus.

And, also like you, I am tired.

I do not always have the energy to be the awesome, dynamic teacher that I can be.  I have kept to my commitment to pursuing the goal of my students learning and learning how to learn on their own, but I have lost a little bit of the spark that makes me a good teacher some days.  The exhaustion of keeping up with all of the spinning plates that we are given makes that hard…if not impossible from time-to-time.

Spinning Plates Image: Wikipedia Commons

We lose some of what makes us great.  It happens to us all.  It is inevitable.  It is real life.

So what do we do about it?

I do not think that we can avoid losing some of our teacher “fire.”  It is an unavoidable reality.

No, I do not think that keeping all of our teacher flames burning is the key here.  No.  If we try to do that.  We burn out and we are not much good for anyone.

No, keeping a large bonfire of teaching enthusiasm is not what you or I need to strive for…not at all.

I think what we need to do is keep the right embers burning.  If we maintain intensity on the right aspects of teaching, we will avoid flaming out and be able to rekindle our fires once the smoke clears.

(Am I overusing the analogy?  Probably.  But I press on.)

Burning Embers Image: Wikipedia Commons

So what do we make sure that we do not lose in the battle of every day teaching life?

Some of it will be different from teacher to teacher, grade to grade, state to state, and person to person, but there is definitely one thing that makes all of the difference in the world for our students that I do not think any of us can afford to lose.  It hit me this year as I had to reflect after some very difficult weeks.

And what is that “one thing,” Teacher?

It is very simple, difficult, easy, and impossible…all at once.

Magic.

You need to keep the magic.

Image: openclipart.org

The magic of teaching is what will keep bringing your students (and most definitely you) back for more over and over again, no matter how hard the going gets.

“What do you mean by magic?”

Magic is the mystical side of teaching.  It is the not-so-quantifiable relationship between wonder, teaching, and learning.  It is the “Aha-moment,” curiosity, and awe that students can have when they are truly engaged in learning about language, math, science, and history.  It is the amazement factor of teaching.  Those moments when the students are wide-eyed and hanging on every moment in your classroom and every word that you say.  It is when sighs of frustration ring through your room when the students hear the bell.

This is the magic of teaching.

wpid-storagesdcard0MemesAwesome-High-School-Teacher.jpg.jpg

It is never every minute in your class, nor should it be.  These are the crescendos to the momentum that you build with every experience that you give your students.  They are what you build up to as you plan and teach.  It is the moment when you can almost physical see the students make the mental connection to what they are learning.

It is the moment that every teacher lives for…it is magic for the students, but it is also magic for the teacher.

It is this magic that you have to protect, against all odds.

This magic is why you teach.  This magic is what makes students want to learn.  This magic is what makes school…well…magical.

How can you be sure to keep this magic alive?

That is up to you.  Magic in my classroom is different from magic in your classroom.  You have to figure out where the magic is for you.  I have to know where the magic is for me.  And we both need to make sure that the noise of education does not drown out the magic of teaching and learning for us or our students.

I teach science.  For me, the magic is tied up in letting the students explore a concept.  I dress it up in a problem of some sort.  I let the students tackle the problem from their current understanding.  I keep some of the things they need to learn hidden…like in a magic trick.  When they think they have things sorted out, I introduce something that most students did not know…which usually makes their solution not work the way that they thought it should.  I then give them the big picture of the concept.  That is when students start to make the connections and see the real solution(s).  This is the “aha” that I live for as a teacher.  This is where students learn on their own (helped along by the the Teacher-Magician).  This is teaching and learning, in my eyes.

This is the magic.

This is what I can’t afford to lose.  No matter what.

What is the magic for you?

How will you keep it in spite of everything?

How will you make it key to what happens in your classroom?

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Teacher, I know that it is hard.  It is less hard when you remember what makes you special as a teacher and you hold on to it for dear life!  I know you know what makes you special.  I know that you know what makes your class magic.  You have what it takes to make that central, and you have what it takes to hold on to that.  You have what it takes to be a great teacher.  Be that great teacher!  You are awesome!  You are amazing!  You are making a difference!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher