Posted in Pep Talk, Perseverance, Poster/Graphic, Theme Song

Standing Outside the Fire


(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)

Dear Teacher,

Well, I am a day late, but it is still early in the week and I bet we could all use a theme song for it…especially those who had a day off yesterday.  So let’s get to it.  This song is going to be a “blast from the past” for a lot of us, but for some it may be the first time to hear this song.  Whether it is new to you or a reminder of more youthful days, this song is a great theme for teachers and one we should hear and think about.

Click play, get through the ad if there is one, and then read on.

Teacher, like it or not, we are heroes.  We fight battles, we run into danger, and we do the impossible.  If not literally, we all do this figuratively.  We take on the world of our students and help them through it and get them to the other side into adulthood and the future.

Not all teachers take this seriously.  Some teachers look at this as more as a job than a calling and desire.  They come in, survive the day, and put up with their students.  They tow the line.  They don’t step on toes.  They teach what and how they are told to teach.  They do little connect to students and see the student as the goal…the content is the goal and teaching it is success.

These teachers “stand outside the fire.”

That is not you, Teacher.

You dance within the flames.  You take what you do and what you are in stride and with confidence.  You know teaching is more than, well, teaching.  It is connecting.  It is getting to know your students.  It is understanding your students.  It is understanding the teaching and learning dynamic.  It is teaching skills outside of your subject area.  It is taking risks.  It is being bold.  It is being brave.  It is taking on the fight and being the hero that your students need you to be.

You are not content with the status quo.  You are not happy with just teaching your standards.  Your students need more.  You need more.

You are not afraid to step on toes when it comes to the needs of your students.  You know what they need, you know how they learn, you know what they are capable of and their potential.  You make choices for them, not for who is watching.

You get to know their families.  You help their parents and guardians know how to help them learn more at home.  You allow their family input on ways to help the student in the classroom.  You make it a team effort and don’t try to do it all on your own.

You look for help from the teachers around you.  You are not afraid to try new things in your classroom.  You look around and see what is working and not working and then seek out strategies from others for whom things are definitely workings.  You are not afraid to change.

You are also not afraid to reflect.  You take a look at students and what they seem to be learning and not learning, and then you make adjustments in you and how you are teaching.  You look at data.  You are not afraid of data.  You let data help you make instructional choices because it gives you a view of what your students need.

You are one of the great ones, Teacher!  You do not stand outside the fire.  You are in the thick of it.  You are dancing around with the flames jumping all around you, and you love every minute of it!  You are a hero.  You are a teacher.  Your students need you!

You are awesome and amazing.  Your “fire dance” is making a difference.  You are making a difference.  Keep on teaching and keep on running into the fire, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS …The poster/graphic this morning is one of a line of printable posters that I created and made available on the TeachersPayTeachers Store. They will be called “Motivational ABCs.”

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Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk, Theme Song

[it’s] The Climb


Dear Teacher,

Can you tell with the dramatic decrease in posts that it has been a busy start to my new school year?  New school years are always hectic, but even more so when there is a drastic change to what or how you are teaching.  This is kind of what today’s post is about.  However, first things first.  It is Monday, so it means this is a theme song post.

This past week, for me, is more than just the start of a new school year.  Last week marked a change in how I teach.  This summer I did a lot of work to learn more about teaching/learning and best practices for making that transaction of teaching and learning happen more effectively for me and my students.  I found out a lot of things that need to change, I planned  ways to make those changes, and last Wednesday was where the rubber met the road with it all.

I have made two major changes.  I am teaching through the use of Problem Based Learning units, and I am using brain-based learning strategies for my actual instruction.  This are both huge shifts in how I teach.  Not that I was not student-centered before, but these two things are making me far more intentional about anything and everything I do in the classroom.

This transition started with a long look in the mirror.  I had to stop pointing fingers about the lack of improvement for some of my students.  I had to take responsibility for my side of the teaching/learning relationship.  This drove me to look and ask for help.  I did this in a variety of ways, but something that kept coming up was Problem Based Learning (PBL) and brain-based strategies.  So I spent time learning about both of these.

I was, in essence, driven back to the drawing board.  In a lot of ways, I started over with how I thought about my role as a teacher, my students’ roles as learners, and what my classroom should look and feel like.  I made strides with changing these things.  I redesigned my classroom, my style of teaching, and how I set up the dynamics of lessons and units.  I put a lot of effort into this over the summer.

Last week, it all began.  This song pretty much sums up my experience.

It was hard to constantly remind myself of the changes that I am making.  I had to constantly rethink every interaction and transition.  I had to remember to keep each activity targeted and intentional.  I had to keep my mind on the fact that students that were not engaged might be a sign of something that I need to adjust in the classroom.  I had to be more proactive about every situation and potential conflict.

It got easier throughout the week, but it was difficult and tiring.  I came in early every day and stayed late.  I reflected and took mental notes.  I made small adjustments moment by moment, depending on the need.  It very much was a climb.

Did I lose some battles with myself?  Sure.  Did I get tired and worn out?  Of course.  Did I lose sight of my goals from time to time?  Yes.  Did I want to give up and slide back down the mountain every once in a while?  Affirmative.  Did I give up?  NO.  Did I keep climbing?  YES.

Change is about the climb.  It is about moving in the right direction.  Are we always going to win?  No, we aren’t.  Is going to be work, and hard work at that?  Yes, you know that it is.  It is the work and difficulties that actually change us.  We learn from failures more than successes.  When we have to backtrack and start again, we know what not to do and can do better the next time.

Becoming the teacher we can be is difficult.  But we need to keep on moving.  We need to keep on climbing.  As we climb, we are becoming more and more of the teacher that we need to be for our students.  We choose a destination, but it is the climb that makes us better.  Reaching the goal is not the ultimate success.  Being the person that we will become to meet that goal is the true success.  Change is the highest achievement.  The climb is what causes this change.

You are awesome!  I know that you are striving to make the changes that you need to make for the betterment of your students!  I know that you will keep working to make those changes!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and climb on!

Love, Teacher