Posted in General Inspiration, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

Teacher, Can I Tell You a Secret?


Dear Teacher,

Today’s message will be short and to the point.

You are amazing!

You pour out your heart and soul for your students.  You care more about them than sometimes they do.  You think about what they need, what they feel, and who they are…and this matters to you.  You try as hard as you can to put them first.

Seriously, you are amazing!

You work hard for the sake of your students despite doing this work in a system that seems to be working against you at times.  You put in long hours.  You plan, plan, plan.  You implement…and modify, modify, modify.  You differentiate…and differentiate more…and differentiate again.  You test (even though you may not agree with the amount of testing)…and encourage, encourage, encourage.  You work with students and intervene, intervene, intervene.  You are tired, exhausted, and burned out, but you keep doing all of this because of point one…you care about your students.

(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

No, really.  You are seriously amazing!

You have so many expectations put on you.  You have to prove how hard you are working for the growth of your students.  You find evidence of that growth.  You defend the choices you make in the classroom.  You make hard choices about stands to make for your students.  You fight for the students that “aren’t making enough progress.”  You engage in battles for your students in and out of the classroom.  This takes a toll on your teaching heart, but yet you keep going…again, all for point one.  You care for your students.

If you haven’t gotten the point yet.  YOU ARE AMAZING, TEACHER!

You do more than you have to.  You take flak for the things you do for your students, but you protect them from that flak.  You do what you need to do to reach your students.  Sometimes you are the only one that sees the goal and the purpose of what you are doing and you get resistance from every angle, from your students and from The-Powers-That-Be.  Still, you soldier on.  You take on more than you have to and more stress than you should.  But you do what you do every day because your students need you to.  And it will make so much more of a difference than you will ever know!

Yes, I keep saying it, but you need to know it.  You, my teacher friend, are AMAZING!

Thank you for all that you do.  I know that you feel beat up, beat down, worn in, and worn out right now, and you aren’t sure if you can keep going.  I don’t know how to help this besides reminding you that you are changing your students’ lives and futures…and I can say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  You are more amazing that words can say and that you will ever know!

(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) ... oh, and this was made using www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!
DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) … oh, and this was made using http://www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!

Just in case you don’t get it yet, I think you are pretty dang AMAZING.  You are so awesome.  I am one of your biggest fans.  Please don’t lose hope!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…In case you didn’t read yesterday’s post, please check it out…many more words of the difference you are making and how awesome you are!  🙂

 

Posted in Choose Positive, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers

Teacher, I See Your True Colors


Dear Teacher,

I really wanted to write to you this morning.  I know that this has been a difficult and trying time for you.  This time of the year usually is.  I have been thinking and trying to come up with some way to remind you how awesome you are and encourage you to keep going and keep fighting…and I did.

It is time for something I haven’t done in a while – a theme song post.  If you have never read one of my theme song posts, all you have to do is click play on the video and read.  If you can’t read with music on, listen to the song and then read.  Got it?  Good!  Let’s go!

Teacher…no one really knows but us what it is like.  Teaching is one of the roughest roads that someone can choose to go down.  It has a bright destination, but it sure can be a dark path sometimes.  There is no sugar-coating it.  Teaching is tough.

As teachers, we are fighting for the lives and futures of our students.  That is no small thing.  With just that, we are battling some pretty scary and menacing enemies.

Image Source: Wikipedia

On top of that, add the fact that we have “friendly enemies.”  Well meaning people who are trying to make education better are making it quite difficult to do what we need to do to reach those minds in our classrooms.

And then there is the standardize testing…and I will just leave that without comment.  Too much to say…

It can feel like the job of teacher is an impossible task…and it is…it is for anyone besides you.

Listen, Teacher, you were and are cut out for this.  You are amazing!

In everything mentioned above, you keep going.  You keep trying.  You keep fighting.  Because in your heart of hearts you know that you were made for this.

You are a fighter and this is your battle.

It can be a long, grueling skirmish…the enemies surround you…you feel alone in the fight…

But something clicks in for you.  You remember who you are fighting for…and it is not for you.  It is for people, young people, who can’t fight for themselves.  This sparks something deep inside of you and gives you the will and strength to forge ahead.

This is who you are.  These are your true colors.

Not everyone can see them, but I do.  They are shining through…and they are shining brightest in the lives of your students now and tomorrow.

Those true colors are beautiful.  Like a rainbow.

Image: Wikipedia Commons
Image: Wikipedia Commons

You are making a difference, Teacher!  The stands you make are worth it.  The time, energy, and tears are planting seeds in the minds of your students.  And those seeds are growing!

Don’t lose heart, Teacher.  Don’t give up.  You are fighting a good fight.  Keep on fighting and keep on teaching!  You rock!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers

What Great Teachers Do Everyday


Dear Teacher,

So I have told you much about my new position as a teacher this year.  This post is not about that, but I currently work at my district’s science center as a STEM teacher.  In this job I get to come into contact with many of the students in the district and areas near by, but more than that I get to see many, many teachers in action with students.  I get to talk to them and find out how things are going and what is working for them.  This is one of my favorite things about my job.

Let me just say, I have been able to meet and interact with some great teachers.  Some really, really excellent teachers.  And I have been impressed and humbled by them.  I do not know if I was in the same league as some of them when I was still in the classroom.  Seriously.

They all have many different traits, but I have been able to observe some commonalities between them.  It seems like there is a “formula” to being a great teacher.  However, I do not know how much it can be learned versus natural ability and personality.  They are not the kind of things that fit on a lesson plan, but, even so, some things are worth practicing and trying!

Image Source: http://www.adoptaclassroom.org via http://www.facebook.com.

The number one thing that I noticed among the great teachers I have met is that they know each of their students and have individual ways of interacting with each.  I don’t know if this makes sense.  What I mean is that their way of talking with and helping each student seems to be differentiated to the personality of each student.  This does not come easy.  This means knowing each student as an individual and know how to bring the best out of each.  This is an amazing feat and trait.  There is a video being passed around Facebook of a basketball coach and his team that shows this better than I can explain.

I love this video.  I have probably watched it at least 20 times.  The time it took him to know his players and develop these handshakes was probably enormous, but the relationship building that happened was priceless.  This is the kind of individualizing and differentiation I see among the great teachers.  Not necessarily with handshakes, but with the way that they approach each student.

The second common trait of great teachers I have seen is a willingness to put students first, even over schedules and non-essential policies.  Great teachers see what students need and bend the rigidness of their structure (or schedule) to make sure that learning happens or needs are met.  This is hard to explain much further because it depends on the situation on what this means, but I can give an example.

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)

When I see classes of students, it is usually in the form of a field trip to the science center.  There is a pretty tight schedule between arrival, labs, lunch, and departure.  Most teachers try to stick to that schedule, and rightfully so.  However, some of the great teachers work around the schedule a bit when their students are on the edge of making some real connections with content or concepts.  Some teachers will sacrifice a few minutes of lunch or be willing to take the fall for making the bus wait for them for a few minutes.  They know that what the students are doing at the center is worthwhile, and they are willing to take flack for the sake of their kids.  And I am sure this applies to situations in their classrooms, as well.

The next thing that seems to be a commonality between great teachers is that they do not waste one teachable moment.  The greatest teachers always have a way of making learning happen everywhere.  No situation is without something to spark curiosity, review concepts, or teach about life in general.  Learning is a way of life for those teachers, and so is teaching.  And it happens in every moment of the day is some little way.

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)

Great teachers also always make great strides in making sure that everything connects.  Just like learning happens everywhere for these teachers, learning is also connected to other things and never stands alone.  You have to make every minute count, and that means that students need to see that content and concepts are connected.  Math relates to science which relates to social studies which relates to ELA…or any combination of this…and all of it connects to students lives and the world at-large.  This come back to making every moment a teachable moment.  If there is a connection that can be made between things that students need to learn, great teachers make sure that they try to help their kids connect those dots.

Last, but definitely not least, great teachers all tend to make sure that students see the impossible as being possible.  I am not talking things that are physically impossible like putting on a cape and flying, but the things that students see as impossible that are actually quite possible.  Students that struggle in reading can be great readers.  Students who don’t know their multiplication facts yet can be great math students.  Students who see school as a place where they can’t live up to the expectation can survive, thrive, and love learning.  Great teachers help students see what is impossible to them as possible and help them do the work to make the impossible possible.  Great teachers help students past their failures and through the work it takes to be a success.  It takes time, effort, and determination, but these teachers stop at nothing to make it happen.

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)

There are many other aspects of great teachers and great teaching, but I think these five are very attainable by all of us.  Does it take hard work?  Yes.  Are we going to have to make decisions that are “off plan?”  Sure we will.  Will we take flack for the choices we make?  You better believe it.  Will it be worth it for the lives and futures of our students?  More than we will ever know!

So, as you write your lesson plans, remember the things that don’t quite fit on the plans.  The needs, personalities, and futures of your students.  Remember what comes first.  Don’t be afraid to leave the lesson plans and fly without a net from time to time.  It’s what great teachers do…and I have a feeling you are one of those great teachers!  Do remember, though, that the impact you make by doing these things may not be something you see for quite a while…but you will be making a lasting impact.

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)

You are an amazing teacher!  I know that you put students first.  Know that this is what makes you a great teacher!  Keep doing what you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS… A quick update.  After I wrote this yesterday, I saw this video posted on Facebook.  This is a great teacher.  She gets it.  Students are more than can be measured (especially measured by a test and a formula of how much computer time they “need”).  She is a great teacher…we can talk later about how so many of the great teachers seem on the verge of giving up.

Posted in Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, You Are Awesome!!!

Attention All Teachers…


Dear Teacher,

You have had a tough couple of days (or weeks…or months…or whole school year).  I get it.  Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world…and people who have never been in the classroom (or haven’t been recently) do not understand that.  On top of that, some years are worse than others.  It just so happens that this year is one of those years.

You are tired.  You are exhausted.  You are burned out or right on the edge of burnout.

You are starting to lose your edge.  You are starting to lose heart.  You are starting to wonder what other careers might fit your skill set.

Trust me, I have been there.  It sucks.  It really does.

But there is one thing that you can do about all of it.  It is not a magic key to unlock teaching happiness, but it is something.

You can ask yourself one question.

What are you going to do about it?

You can’t really change your circumstances.  You can’t make your students be different.  You can’t control all of your classroom dynamics.  You can’t force your administration to be different and you can’t stop the system from being what it is.

You can change one thing.

You can change you.

I wish I had the words to explain what I mean by that, but I would rather quote Maya Angelou who said it better than I ever could.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

We can control how we are affected by our situation.  We can adjust the way we react to things.  We can check our feelings before we make a decision.  We can change the way that we let things affect us.

I think the best way to do this is to refocus on why we are teaching in the first place.  We need to remember why we started this journey we call the teacher life.  What brought us here?  What brought you to teaching may be what helps you stay with it.

I do believe that answer is probably close to the same for all of us.  It is all about students and trying to make the world a better place for them.

I know that reality has made that difficult to keep a view of, but you can start over every day and find that target again.  We can ask ourselves, “How will I make today better for my students (even the tough ones)?”

I am not saying that we forget about standards and curriculum, but I do think it will help if we double-down on putting students and what they need in front of those things.

I don’t know.  Am I making sense here?

Anyway, the best way to survive is looking at ourselves and how things are changing us as teachers.  Are we doing what we are doing for the sake of students or for some other reason?  If it not for students how can we change our practices (within the system) to make sure that they are the priority.  When you and I can do this, I think how the toughness of any given day or year affects us will change.

I will close with another quote.  This is from Jaime Escalante (a teacher hero of mine who I think lived out what I am saying here).

You don’t count how many times you are on the floor. You count how many times you get up.

Rough days and years come and go.  What matters is what you do about it.  How will you learn and move on?

Get Up Quote

Get back up, Teacher.  You are great teacher.  You are getting through to your students.  You are making a difference.  I think you are pretty awesome!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk

An Open Letter to Teachers…Don’t Lose Hope


(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

You are beat up and beat down.  You are worn out.  You are worn down.  This has been one of the toughest and roughest years of your career.

You don’t know if you can do this anymore.

Somewhere in and through the stress of students, parents, administration, and the system, you have lost sight of why you are doing this.  You don’t see the difference you intended to make.  You can’t see the forest.  You can’t see the trees.  You only see dwindling patience, one more student that doesn’t have a pencil, and another email about lesson plans that you haven’t turned in yet.

You are at the end of your rope and it is becoming more and more tempting to just let go.

You are losing your grip.

While you contemplate how much the fall will hurt, can I just tell you something…well, a few somethings?

First thing that you need to know is that you are absolutely, one hundred and fifty percent not alone.  More teachers feel this way this year than don’t, I think.  It is a common thought and feeling.

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)

Even if it doesn’t fee like it, other teachers are going through exactly what you are right now.  Probably other teachers in your school…most likely the teacher in the room next door.

I know it is kind of messed up that a lot of teachers are in the same boat…but at least you don’t have to be alone in this.

And that is great, but what do we do about it?

We need to remember that the education system is not why we got into this business…we went through the trouble of becoming a teacher because we actually care about students and their future.  The system is what is wearing us out, but the students are who are keep us in.

Unfortunately, we are bound by the system.  How do we work within it to make the biggest difference in the lives of those learners in our classrooms?

I think it all comes down to spending a bit of time before each school day remembering why we teach.  It means thinking about each student (or some of them each day, if you teach multiple classes).  We have to remember that each of those souls are people and that we actually care about them and where they are going in life.

If we do that, it will lead us to think more carefully about our decisions in the classroom.  We will be driven to take stands for what is best for students.  We will fight for what is right.  We will truly differentiate for each child and what they need from us.

As that happens, our teacher heart will start to beat again.  We will find our passion again for teaching.  We will be ready to change the world all over again.

I know this is all easier said than done, but I think it is time we start doing what we know needs to be done.  I think it is time to be brave and bold…for our students good and for ours.

You are a TEACHER!  You actually do know what you are doing most of the time.  You know your students and care about their lives.  You know how to make classroom decisions.  You are courageous!  You are strong!  You are intelligent!  You matter to the future of your students and you are making a difference!

Remember why you do what you do and that you are not alone in this.  Be brave and do what needs to be done.  You will be happier in the long-run because you are doing what are made for!

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)

You are amazing!  You are awesome!  Thank you for all that you do!  Remember that you can do anything for a year, and this year is almost done.  You’ve got this!  Don’t give up!  Keep on persevering and keep on teaching, Teacher!  You rock!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Cheer Up, General Inspiration, Note to Teachers

The Teaching Dead…Attack of the Zombie Teacher!


Image Source: amazon.com
Image Source:
amazon.com

Dear Teacher,

I have always thought that The Walking Dead would make a much better title for a book or movie about teaching during cold and flu season.  It’s no secret that we basically work in a Petri dish for viruses and bacteria.  A whole lot of people all in one building together and a majority of those people struggle with hygiene and the concept of personal space.  We really should be allowed to wear hazmat suits sometimes.  Seriously.

We walk through the halls trying to avoid the infected.  Handshakes and hugs become fast fist-bumps and vigorous application of hand sanitizer.  Think about it.  It is much like a zombie show or movie.  We just don’t try to destroy the sick…although we are quick to recommend a phone call home or trip to the nurse…I guess that is kind of like a shot to the head for the cold and flu.

Image Source: www.someecards.com
Image Source:
http://www.someecards.com

Anyway, the inevitable happens, and we become one of them.  We get whatever is going around.  Teachers get sick.  It is a reality that is bound to happen, no matter the precautions we take.  We become one with the zombies.  We take the plunge into Walker-dom.

The most awful thing about getting sick as a teacher is that rest, getting better, and even going to the doctor is not that simple.  This is one of the many things that I wish the world knew about the life of teaching.  “Calling in a Sub” is not an easy task.  It is, more times than not, easier just to play through the pain and just work sick.

Image Sorce: www.someecards.com
Image Sorce:
http://www.someecards.com

Oh yes, we know that the other teachers are going to hate us for it.  We are, in essence, upping the chances of their zombie-transformations.  There is a slight chance that our own sickness came from the kindness of other teachers not wanting to bother a sub.  And we are irritated by that, but at the same time the effort of going through the trouble of getting things set up for a substitute teacher is not always possible when you feel like you have been hit by a truck.

We have all done it.  We have all avoided messiness of finding a sub, figuring out what to leave for students that sticks with pacing and what you have been doing, setting all of that up, dealing with the issues of the plans not being followed, and playing catch-up with students when you come back.  We have gone in sick.  We have because it is sometimes more restful just do that than all of that.

Sometimes we come in sick because we have to.  There is a major test of some sort to give.  There is a project that has to be finished.  There is some kind of training during planning that is a one-time-only kind of thing.  We come in because there is no other option.

Image Source: pixabay.com
Image Source:
pixabay.com

Whatever the reason, we have all taught while sick.  And now we are back to The Walking Dead.  There is no better word for how that feels.  We feel like walking dead.  It is like the Theraflu commercial…

Theraflu ExpressMax

We are barely there.  We are miserable.  We feel bad.  We feel worse that we might make other people sick.  But we are there.  We are trying to do what is right.  It is the heart of the teacher in us.

Well, I would like to thank you for all of the times that you worked sick, Teacher.  You are awesome to care so much for your students!

If you are experiencing this right now…like me…chin up.  You will feel better eventually.  It feels like being sick is your new reality, but colds and the flu go away.  You will be back to yourself before long.  Keep fighting!

And I would like to give you a piece of advice.  If you can work up the muster to get everything together, call in a sub.  You will be sick longer if you don’t rest.  I know it is hard, but it is worth it.  Many people have told you to look out for yourself, but it is true.  You need to.  Take care of yourself, Teacher.

You really are amazing.  You are such a great teacher!  I believe in you and you are making a difference!  Keep on teaching, Teacher (even when your sick)!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Reason for Teaching

Stop Everything and Read this Blog Post Right Now!! Or don’t…


Dear Teacher,

I bet you might be thinking that the title of this note was just a gimmick to try to get you to read it.  It wasn’t.  Not that I don’t want you to read it…I do…I just have a point to make using the it.  However, not yet.  I want to tell you a little story first.

My little family and I had the awesome opportunity to spend Thanksgiving Break at the beach with my wife’s family.  I am not much of a beach person, but there was something pretty great about being near the water, hearing the crashing waves, and being able to walk the beach with my sons and wife.  I did, unfortunately, became a little obsessed with finding shells (and shark teeth).

There were plenty of common shells (clams, scallops, and the like), but I was after other game.  I really wanted to find conch or nautilus shells…oh, and did I mention shark teeth?  I kept looking for all of these, but all I found was a few broken pieces and thousands of common shells.  I would see something out of the corner of my eye, veer of my path, and find it only to see it was more of the same.

I outlasted my boys and wife with each trip out.  Still I couldn’t turn down the inner call to keep looking.  I just knew I would find something!

I kept chasing the bits and pieces that I saw in the distance sure that I would find something rare and worried that I would miss out on it if I didn’t go after what I saw.  No matter the disappointment, I kept chasing.

Until…

IMAG1872

My oldest son kept asking me to go back.  He wanted to just play in the sand.  I could see the other family members down the beach having a good time together…and off the other way there was something that I just knew had to be what I was looking for.  I had this moment where I knew that I just had to choose.  Chase something that was not assured or savor the moments with my family.

A thought came to me…

There will always be another shell.

I talked back to that thought (not aloud, of course)…what if I miss out on something good.

There will always be another shell.

What if this is the shell I am looking for?  What if it is a shark tooth?

There will always be another shell…and shark teeth aren’t that big, idiot!

I made a conscious decision to turn and go back.  I go spend the quality time I always want to have with my family when I can’t have it.  I went back with my son and had some fun on the beach.  I dare say it was much better than not finding shells!

It hit me that this is something similar to what happens to us in education.  I can only speak from a teacher’s perspective, but it seems like sometimes we are always chasing something off in the distance.  The latest strategy, the newest assessment-style, or the latest book that will change everything in education.  Not that any of these things are bad…they definitely aren’t…but it can be something we are constantly looking for all the while missing out on what is right in front of us.

Our students are here.  Our students are now.  They are why we do what we do.  Despite the latest and greatest trends, what makes some of the biggest effects on how students learn is us and our relationships with them.  We need to talk to them.  Learn how they learn best.  Help them learn how to learn on their own.  This has to be our priority.  It is the only way that true learning, understanding, and growth happens!

This means some serious thought into what we need to let go of sometimes.  It can be a mere change of focus.  It can mean putting things on the back-burner.  It often will mean that we have to not always chase every “new” idea in education…some books may need to wait until summer to read, some conferences may need to be unattended, and some blog posts may need to be bookmarked for later.  This doesn’t mean that these are not important things, it just means that some of them will have to wait for the sake of our students.

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So.  Back to the name of this post.  It is so easy to get caught up in what we are told needs to happen right now.  We can be led to believe that we need to stop everything to investigate what we might be missing.  Just like me and the shell hunt, there may be something back in the other direction that is more worthwhile – quality time really getting to know and work with our students on their level.

Hitting pause on the things that seem vital for our growth as professionals can be quite difficult.  But it is a reality that does occur (more often than we would like).  As an educator, sometimes the hardest thing is letting go…but often it is the only way to move forward for the greater good of our students.

Remember…

There will always be another shell.

There will always be another book.

There will always be another PD.

There will always be another blog post.

There will not always be another year with the students you have right now.  Don’t let it slip away!

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If I know you, though, I am preaching to the choir.  You do realize these things most of the time.  That’s what makes you awesome and an amazing teacher!  Keep on make your students the ultimate priority and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers

To Be a Teacher…


Dear Teacher,

I am sorry that my words of encouragement have been few and far between this year.  It has been a rough and busy school year.

But I guess that this is not news to you.

As I talk to and get feedback from other teachers, I am hearing the same thing from them.  It is a tough year.  There is no time.  It is all that I can do to keep my head above water.

We are all just trying to survive this year, aren’t we.

It isn’t easy for any of us, even the most veteran teachers.

This school is is just plain difficult.

I have some good news and some encouragement for you today.

The Good News:  For most of us, this school year is half-way over!

And there was much rejoicing.

The Encouragement:

You know what takes to be a good teacher.  Nay.  You know what it takes to be a GREAT teacher.  You know because you are one.

I know that this is a trying year.  There is so much extra on your plate.  There are so many curve balls to contend with and handle.  There is just a lot of…well…everything this year.  It is not easy to let your greatness show.

But, you awesome teacher, you, know what your students need.  You know what is best.  You know how to reach and teach even the most difficult students in your class.  You know what it takes to get your students where they need to go.  You have the knowledge and the know-how!

I have four words for you: Stick to your guns!

Stay true to the teacher that you know you are.  Sometimes that means having to fight battles over what is best for your classroom.  Sometimes you just have to go through the motions of the extra that you are asked to do.  Sometimes you need to let a few of those unneeded plates drop (you know all of those many plates that you have to spin for the sake of spinning and not for the sake of the precious ones in your class).  Sometimes you just have to stand up for what is right.

It is not always easy to do, but you have to remember who you are there for…your students.

I know, there is voice after voice after voice telling you the best way to do your job.  Sometimes those voices are right.  Sometimes you are already doing a good job and can afford to put some voices on mute.  Have the courage to do that.  Find the voices that count, but don’t forget your own.

Be courageous and do what needs to be done today.

Make your students your goal.

Remember them today.

Be strong.

You can do it!

(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 are awesome and I completely believe in you!  You have what it takes to do what it takes.  You are making a difference!  You are strong and courageous.  I know that you will make choices today that will help your students be everything that they can be!  Keep going!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Reason for Teaching, Reflection

It’s Grow Time


Dear Teacher,

Happy New Year!  And so a new one begins, huh?  I am not sure what this school year has been like for you so far, but you have a fresh start to the second half.  What are you going to do with it?

Image: Wikipedia

I can’t help but think of a new year as a seed.  It is something that is up to you on how it will grow.  Like I teach my students whenever I teach my unit on plants, seeds stay dormant until they have the right conditions to grow.

I moved into my current classroom and curriculum three years ago.  In one of the drawers, I have many as a science teacher, I found a bag of beans.  I had no idea how old they were and decided not to use them….until this year.

Image: Wikipedia

This year, I went a little “grow crazy” during the plant unit and tried to plant as much as I can using the big grow light set-up we have.  I remembered those seeds.  I did the germination in a damp paper towel thing, and despite the age of the seeds, they still germinated!

I planted them, watered them, and let time and nature do the rest.  As I said, I grew several things all at the same time.  I was disappointed that, though many things flowered, nothing came to fruit…or so I thought.

Another teacher came to observe in my room and we got talking about my plants and how the plants flowered by nothing else.  He knows a lot more about growing than I do, and he started looking through them.  And he found something…on the bean plants.  He found little bean pods.  Not only did they grow, they produced more seeds!  I was disappointed in the size until some students and I started looking through the plants and we found large bean pods!  It was a cool moment for this science teacher who is bad at growing stuff!

(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Though the beans were who-knows-how-old, they were still dormant and waiting for the right conditions to grow.

Why did I share this story?

Teacher, you may have had a rough school year.  Not much may seem to have happened for you or your students.  You may have seen nothing but seedlings so far…or worse, you just see empty soil.

Do not give up!

You have a fresh start coming up!

Your seeds may still just be dormant.

You just need the right conditions for growth!

I do not know what growth or the right conditions look like for you, but you do.  What will it take to make that happen?  What do you need?  What do you need to focus on?

Stop whining about what is going wrong this year and work on what is going right!  Give yourself and your students the light, water, and nutrients needed for growth!  Reflect, regroup, and regrow!

(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You can do it!

You know what it takes!

You have what it takes!

It time to get growing!

It is grow time, Teacher!

You are awesome and I know you have what it takes to get things growing this year.  You are an amazing teacher.  You are making a difference.  Don’t give up!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

Year-End Close Out Pep Talk


Dear Teacher,

So, the old Earth is finishing up another trip around the Sun.  New Year’s Day is kind of like Earth’s birthday.  Another year is over and it is time to start a new one.  I bet you are reflecting aren’t you?  It is kind of the human thing to do.

Image: Wikipedia

How was this year for you?  What were the highs?  What were the lows?  How are you feeling about a new one starting?

Since you are in an introspective mood, I want to give a challenge to your inner monologue.

There is something you need to think about.  The year is over, but the school year isn’t even halfway.  This has been a difficult school year for most of us.  We have been beat-up, beat-down, and you just feel beat.

You need something to get you through the rest of the year.

You need one thought.

You need a reminder.

This is a reminder only you can give yourself.

You need to answer one question, and I think you should answer it right now.  Write down your answer.  Give some reasons why you answered the way that you did.  Put it somewhere to remind you for the rest of the year.

Are you ready?

Why are you a teacher?

I know, I know, this year you have probably asked yourself that a lot…with sarcasm and negativity.  That is not what I am talking about.  You need to reflect on the whole reason why you became a teacher in the first place.  You need to think about the heart of what and why you do what you do and deal with what you have to deal with.  There has to be a reason.  You probably have many.

Image: Wikipedia

I bet your reason has little to do with content.  It probably has everything to do with students and making a difference.  I know this is the case for me.

Let me give you my reasons.  This is more for me than for you…because I am a teacher and I need to do this as much as you do!

Why am I a teacher?

  • I have a huge heart and am filled with compassion for people that have little to no resources (aka…live at or near the poverty line)…teaching at a Title I school is a great way to have an impact and make a difference.
  • I want to help students, especially at-risk boys, start thinking through choices and become leaders in their families and communities.
  • I love to learn and pass that love of learning on to others.
  • I love the process of teaching and learning and I love to teach others how to learn better.
  • I am creative and obviously have a gift for teaching, I would be miserable not using my abilities and talents to help others.
  • Teaching is in my blood and I live for it…I would be bored doing anything else.

I can probably come up with 1000 more reasons, but I think this is a enough for now.  That was helpful to my teaching heart and teaching soul!  Thanks for letting me do that here!

What about you?  Why are you a teacher?

(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 are awesome and you are good at what you do!  I highly recommend some reflection on your reasons for teaching.  It might make you ready to endure more of what is wearing you out this year.  You have a reason.  You have a purpose.  You are making a difference.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher