I am writing this mid-week, but who knows when you might read it. No matter what day of the week or time of the school year, I want you to remember something…
YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN ANYONE CAN EVER KNOW!
The world at large has no idea what it means to be in your classroom with your kids this year. They want to boil what you do down to a formula or thing that can be measured. But it is not about numbers or about data. It is about what is behind each set of eyes that look to you everyday from those seats in your room. You try to know what they need and work hard to make sure that happens. It is hard to do with everything else you are asked to do, but that is your goal and that is your heart.
Not going for political thought here, but the legislators and federal and state admin do not have a clue what it means to be you in front of your class and meeting the needs that are there each and every day. They say that they care for the students…and I am sure that in some way that they do…but you are the eyes, hands, and heart that is actually there for the students. That is what drives you…those kids in your room. You are more important than what comes in a bill or document from somewhere far away from where you are. I know that those things effect you, and it is right to speak up…and it is right to speak up because you are those eyes, hands, and heart there for students. Don’t lose heart!
I could go on and talk about how school admin does not get you every day, how your friends misunderstand what it is you truly do for a living, how parents do not always see what you are seeing, and how students do not yet comprehend the hard choices you make that are best for them in the long run…but I won’t. Just know that I know and get it…and I want to encourage you to keep doing what you do.
You are amazing! Do not let all of the stuff that has been piled up on you destroy you today. Take today for what it is and make the best today for your students. No matter what is on you, YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Keep on going! Keep on fighting! Keep on teaching, Teaching!
PS…If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments. If you like the post and it encouraged you, please share…there are a lot of hurting teachers out there right now! And if you there are certain types of posts you would like to see more of or less of, or if you have an idea for a post for me to do, please let me know…firstname.lastname@example.org.
No one can really measure your worth. I mean really. There is no way to distill everything you do or simplify it into a formula.
Plain and simple, you are there for students. You know what to do in most situations in your classroom most of the time. If you don’t, you look for answers and experiment with solutions.
Programs are good, Curriculum is vital. Tests can help us know progress. But they are not you!
You can scan the room on Monday morning and know who has had a rough weekend and may need a little break, something from your desk that makes them smile, or just a simple hug.
You know the fine art of convincing students to try harder. You are keen on when and how to coach them through failures to master a concept. You are a pro at inspiring students not used to working at a problem until they solve it to do just that…work with grit until they get there. You know that being a little upset, and sometimes a few tears, are a part of the process for students like that. You know when to help and when not to, it is one of your gifts.
You are aware of your students at all times. You know authentically where they are in the content and stages of learning it. You don’t always need a data wall to tell what learning and growth is happening at those desks and tables in your classroom. You just know. It is who you are. It is what you do. And you know how to push each one just a little deeper in and higher up in what they know and can do.
You, my Teacher friend, are a professional. You are good at what you do. Without you we just have programs, curriculum, and tests. But education is oh so much more than that. Students are oh so much more than that. They need oh so much more than that.
Students need you. The system needs you. Education needs you. We all need you.
Thank you for each and everything that you do. Seriously, thank you! Thank you for fighting for students and for what is right. Keep it up. You know the stakes. You are worth it. You are awesome. And, as always, you rock.
The hallway is clean and shiny as if the floors have just been waxed this morning. You hear your footsteps echo in click-clacks down the hall as you walk slowly and peer into the rooms through the windows on the doors. The rooms are empty, but today you have a strange sense of curiosity about what this place was like some time in the distant past.
Your parents told you stories about what school was like for them. How strange it must have been to have an actual person in the room leading the class in discussions and activities that happened in the room you were in with them. You can not even imagine. Even when you were in school, instruction happened more from a distance and interactions with the others there with you were few and far between.
You stop at a room that you heard used to be a science class. As you look into the room that has been filled with rows of console stations, probably 40-50 total, you think about what it might of looked liked with lab tables and equipment for real experimentation. Holy crap, it must have been so unsafe. You pause at the thought, and then smile. You bet it was fun.
You remember your mom telling you that one of her teachers once brought in a balloon. You can’t remember what you said she told you it was filled with, but it floated like a helium balloon you recall from childhood birthdays. She said that the teacher lit a match on a long pole and touched it to the balloon and it turned into a fireball. A small one, but a fireball, all the same. It was probably frightening. But still, again you smile, it was probably also amazing.
As you think about that, you also have a memory of your mom telling you about the time that same teacher brought her family a pizza one Friday night. What a nice person to be willing to do that. She said that her parents gave the teacher money. You don’t know why. She also told you that the teacher had on a hat of the pizza company. The guy must have really liked that pizza.
As you walk away, saddened a little, you think about how when you were a student, there were seldom times you really knew your teachers. They were in the room some of the time, but it was more about checking on progress than teaching you anything. You had your digital learning system doing most of that work, so teachers did not have to worry about that much. They were too busy to help you learn because the digital systems were still glitchy when you were in school and they needed to work out the kinks.
Besides, as your parents told you, most of the great teachers they had or knew about moved on from the world of working with students. They said they could not afford to do it anymore. Teaching was a job that did not pay well and had a lot of responsibility. That must be part of the reason the profession was phased out. Even when you were in school a lot of states did not even use the word anymore.
Your title, Educational Facilitation Technician, does suit what the role has become better, anyway. Your facility only requires six total to handle the 600-plus student load. Efficiency is key. There is no need for the extra effort, because the learning systems handle all of that.
Still, you think as you arrive at your small office to load the systems to the consoles in the room, you think about how it might have been to be a teacher. As you sit down and launch the program to the rooms on your hall, your wonder where all of the teachers went to and those that might have become one are doing in the world that you live in.
With a sigh, you sit and watch the code on your monitors and wait for the learning to begin.
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!
Breaks from teaching 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.
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!
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!
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?
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!
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!
(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!)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
PS…Dear Teacher/Love Teacher is looking for a little help. Check this out for more information. Thanks!
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!