Getting Back on Your Teaching Feet…


Dear Teacher,

It has been a little while.  Last you heard from me was a few weeks ago.  I told you about my computer issues (which still aren’t over), but that is not the only reason.  The other reason you haven’t heard much from me is because life is busy, difficult, and demanding.  But that is not news for you – you are a teacher!

The holidays are usually fun and somewhat relaxing…but they also remind us that the teaching life is not easy.  We are reminded of the other things in life that we neglect for the sake of our students (which is a noble act, don’t get me wrong).  It is great to live our “normal life” for a couple of weeks!  But then we have to get back to our other world, and that can be a difficult transition.

That is part of what has happened for me with the blog.  I took a break because of the computer issues and the holidays…and it now has taken me a while to get back on my Dear Teacher feet.  It is a time and energy commitment to blog here and try to say something to help your day better as a teacher.  It is a sacrifice that I willingly make because you are worth it and deserve it, but it takes a while to get back into the swing of it.  Today is my attempt.  I am sorry if this is lackluster…but I am trying.

And that is the key for us after a break, bad day, or difficulties in or out of school…we just have to get on our feet and try.

We don’t need to worry about being awesome (though, you always are)…we just have to move and focus on our students.  We don’t have to have the most amazing lesson.  We don’t need to make amazing Dead Poet’s Society inspirational speeches.  We don’t have to add Pinterest-ing features to our classrooms.  We don’t even have to be completely “all there” yet.  We just need to be there and make an attempt.  The more we try to do the things we know are important, the more that we start being the amazing selves that we are.

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

This is what it takes to make a difference for our students and change their futures.

All it takes is you being you and being there trying.  Day in and day out.  Some days will be great.  Some days will be the opposite.  And most days will just be somewhere in the middle.  But it the sum of these days that matter.  You just have to get up, get going, and try.

What is great about you is that you know this, and you do this.

This is why you are AWESOME and you are making a difference.

Please know that even when you don’t hear from me, I truly believe in you and am always in your corner.  You are amazing and you totally rock!  Thanks for all you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

 

 

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Dear Teacher Daily – A Letter From That “One Student”


Dear Teacher,

You are passionate about your students and about teaching, there is no denying that.  For that reason, when you have a REALLY challenging student, it is a struggle.  You want to reach that student, but you also don’t want to sacrifice the other students and their learning environment.  It is a mental and emotional tug-of-war that you deal with day in and day out.  You do what you can and play each day by ear.

And you are TIRED!

Well, I just want to encourage you to keep it up!  Don’t give up!  Keep making those hard choices every day!  We both know it will make a difference one day for that student(s)…even if it is in the far future and you will never know.

To help you do this and stay inspired to keep going, I went into the future and got that student to write you a letter.  What, you didn’t know I had a time machine?  🙂

I’m attaching the letter to the end of this note.  I hope it reminds you why you do the things you do.  You are awesome and REALLY ARE making a difference!  Don’t give up!  Keep on teaching, 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)

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

The Teacher and September, 7th, 2016


Dear Teacher,

I want to try something a little different and see if it helps you.  I want to write you a little note every day.  Just something to lift your spirits, get you pumped, remind you why you teach, or maybe just give you a little giggle about being a part of the world we call education.  I will try to organize the messages better so that if you need a certain kind of encouragement on any given day, you can go to the archives and find it.

We’ll see how it goes.  I really like this idea.  Do you?

Without further ado, let’s talk about today.

Today is today.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  It is just today.

And even though it is quite a cliche, it is nonetheless true…today is what you make of it.

In my life and in my experience teaching, I can’t get way from the fact that my attitude determines about 97.5% of how my day goes.  Circumstances are just what happens.  Attitude is how I happen.

There is a line in a song by a band called Superchic(k) that says, “Life doesn’t happen to you, you happen to life.”  I’ve always liked that line.  It is true.  It is about how we react to the ebb and flow of life.  We can let it wash over us and determine how we feel…or we can set our determination and make each day what we want it to be.

So, Teacher, what are you going to make today be?

What is your determination?

How are you going to happen to life today?

What is your day going to be?

Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs https://goo.gl/wU4BW9

Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs
https://goo.gl/wU4BW9

You know I think you are pretty dang amazing, right?  You are a great teacher.  You’ve got this today.  Don’t let circumstances and small stuff (or big stuff) change you…change those things by being the awesome that you are!  Never give up and always keep teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Lost and Found


(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,

I bet you thought I was gone for good, huh?  I haven’t written you in quite some time.  I am sorry for that.  But it was necessary.

I needed a break.

Sometimes we all do, and I definitely did.  I needed one and I took one.

I did not know how long the break from blogging would last.  I even let the domain name go for a bit.  I wasn’t sure if I would be back…but here I am.  I am here for you.

Where did I go?

Well, just like for you, the world is spinning.  I think everyone feels that, but teachers and educators especially do.  We have so much to do and take care of between school life and home life…and sometimes the world is moving faster than we can keep up with and all we can do is hold on for dear life.

That is where I was…holding on for dear life.

I had to do what we all do.  I had to evaluate all of my self-given responsibilities and decide which ones needed to take a backseat and even go in the trunk for a while.  I had to make some hard choices.  Writing to you was one thing that I could put down for a while, and I did.  I did because I had to.

I am back, now, though.  Hopefully you didn’t need my encouragement too much and were able to find some from another source for a while.

I am writing to you to challenge you to take some time this summer and figure out what you might need to put down for a while.  What is the extra that is good but might be the one-too-many for your life?  What are you juggling that you don’t have to?  What can you put aside for a while?

And sometimes you need to think about picking something else up once you put it down.

What is something that you want to do or love doing that you could buy some time for by stopping something else?  Is there a hobby?  A bucket-list item?  A place you want to visit?  Anything?

Find a way to make some time for that this summer.  You might just find the you that you’ve forgotten for a while.

For me it was a little (big) side project…I invented a math-based board game, and followed through with it until it was an actual game.  I will share about it in another post later, but I can’t tell you how good it felt to do something different and try a new challenge.  It brought my creativity back to life after a good but draining school year.  I am refreshed and renewed because I put something down (this blog) and tried something new (board game design).

Could you do something similar this summer?  I encourage you to try!

Have you been doing this already?  If so, let me know what you have put down and what you have picked up in the comments!

You are awesome, as always, and I hope you are having an amazing break from the day-to-day of teaching.  You are making a difference for everyone in your life!  Keep on resting this summer and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

(Oh, and if you are interested in hearing more about the board game that I am quite proud of, let me know in the comments, as well!)

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

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

Are We There Yet? Exhaustion and Last Days…


Dear Teacher,

It is drawing ever nearer to the last days of school (if you aren’t already there).  You are tired.  No…strike that.  You are completely and utterly exhausted.  This school year has done you in.  You are so done with all of the chaos and drama.

And you deserve to feel that way…it has been a TOUGH year.

You have made it through, but only barely.

The last weeks and days of school are a light at the end of the tunnel, and you feel like your students do right before the buses come.  You are just watching that clock.

Image Source: Wikimedia (Wikipedia)

You keep waiting for the seconds to tick down.  And they feel slow incredibly slow.  Why can’t it just be over.  You need it to be over.

Let me remind you, it is almost time.  You are almost there.

You need this summer…and summer’s coming, friend.  Summer is coming!

It is okay that you’re worn out right now.  If you weren’t, I would be worried that there is something wrong with you or if you might actually be a superhero…or alien…or both.  This year has been rough, and you should be tired in every way shape and form.

And for this reason, it is also okay to be excited about your coming “break” – even with all of the work you have to do eventually over the summer…it still counts as a break.  You get to recharge.  You get to relax.  You get to unwind from the stress of this year.

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 have done well this year, my Teacher Friend.  You have made a difference this year, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.  You have earned the right to look forward to the summer.  You have my permission to watch the clock.  🙂

You are an amazingly awesome teacher!  You will always be.  Enjoy the rest of the year!  Keep on clock-watching…errr…I mean teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

Hello From the Other Side (of the school year)


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,

It is almost the end of the year…I think it calls for a special post.  Theme song post time!

I have actually been thinking about this one for a while.  The song is “Hello” by Adele.  The song is great, but lately I have started to think about my teaching life and the different versions of my teacher self throughout the school year.

What if I could call and talk to myself at the beginning of the year?  What would I say?  What would I hold back?  Would I advise?  Would I apologize?  I don’t know…but I am going to give it a shot here.  Please “listen in” on my conversation with myself and think about what you might say to yourself.

Oh, and I realize that this is a just a  cover of the original song, but I really like this version…so click play  and then read on.

Hello.

It’s me.

We need to talk.

First of all, I would just like to say, you are so awesome!  Your ideas and energy.  It is why I teach.  You know that you are going to make a difference this year, and I love you for this.  Don’t lose that.  Never lose that.

However…

Hello from the other side.

This is going to be a rough year.  You are going to face trials and troubles like you have never seen.  You are going to have your teaching heart broken.  You are going to want to quit.

You will really consider it.

I wish I would have gotten in touch with you sooner.

I have needed your spark and light.

There are going to be times that the spark is going to almost be extinguished and that light is going to dim.

I am sorry to tell you, but you are barely going to make it through the year alive (as a teacher).

I have barely made it.

I am barely here.

Your full-on sprint at the beginning of the year is going to taper down to where I am right now.  I am crawling to the finish line.  And I can barely breathe.  I am barely teacher living.

I am sorry for what I have done to you.

I really am.

But..

Hello from the other side.

Let me just assure of one undeniable truth.  From where I am right now, it was worth it.

I can see where our students have come from and how far they’ve come.  We have made a difference.  We have changed lives.  We have done everything that your optimistic heart hoped and dreamed for this year.  We’ve done it!

You will be completely drained, beat-up, and exhausted, but you have affected the lives of your students for forever.  Amazing things have happened in our classroom this year.  There has been magic.  There has been wonder.

Do not give up the fight.

Keep going.

Keep running.

Keep fighting.

It will all be worth it in the end!

Hello from the other side…

Thanks for reading my little message to myself.  Did you see yourself in this?  Could you have the same conversation with your beginning-of-the-year-you?

You know, no matter what happened this year, beautiful things happened in that classroom of yours.  Magic and life change did occur.  Everything you went through was worth it for the sake of your students.  To help remind you of this, I want to close this note to you with a few more teachers stories of classroom beauty and magic that happened this year.  And if you would like to share a story of wonder from your classroom, you can do so here.

Teacher Michelle – Kindergarten

I work hard on creating a family out of my class of kindergarteners. They come from very low income homes and have very rough lives. In my classroom we work hard on creating relationships and bonding.It can get really hard, but the rewards are worth it.

Recently a child in my class won a ticket to Six Flags for being the only one who completed the required minutes of reading and turned the paper in. when i announced it to my class, i honestly expected to hear a lot of whining and “why didnt I get one!?” But INSTEAD… when i made the announcement my ENTIRE CLASS began applauding and shouting out “good job!” and “good for you!”

That was the day I knew we were a family.

Teacher Joanne – High School (Retired)

I retired from full time teaching and now work as an office manager for a national tax preparation company.
During the season, I was assisting a client who was accompanied by one of my former students, a friend of hers. She asked him if he had done his taxes yet, and he said, “Oh yes, Ms. Maura taught us all about it in finance class.” I wanted to hug him, but I said, “Thank God someone was paying attention that day!” I won’t also mention all of the greetings I get in the community (I live in the city where I taught for 20+ years).

Teacher Alice – High School

My first year of teaching was a challenging experience, as it is for many teachers. I was teaching 6-7 periods a day, and my classes were mutli-leveled ESL classes. In one class, I had everything from a level one (absolute beginner) to 5 (advanced, ready to transition to mainstream) in the same class. I struggled mightily.

At the end of the year, I assigned the students to write a thank you letter to someone in the building that had made a difference for them during the year. One sweet, upper level student, who had been an immense help to me in that challenging class, placed her note on my desk at the end of the class and told me to open it. The text of the note read, “thank you, thank you, thank you! One thank you for all you taught me this year, one thank you for being there for me, and one thank you for how you change my life. Always remember this, Miss: stars need darkness to shine. I may not know how to write a letter, but I know there is not a wrong way to say thank you.” I sat at my desk and bawled.

Teacher, you are making a difference and have done amazing work this year!  You are so awesome!  Please know that everything you went through this year was worth.  You have had a greater effect than you will ever know.  Thanks for all that you do!  Hold on…the year is almost over!  Keep on doing the incredible things you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Dear Teacher/Love Teacher is looking for a little help.  Check this out for more information.  Thanks!

 

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