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!
I have been working on this letter to you in my head for over a week. I just haven’t been sure what to say. Today I decided the best way to start is just begin. Pretty easy, really.
So I have a pretty big podcast addiction. I love listening to them. I really like shows that cause me to think. And because of this, last week I heard something that has inspired me.
There is a choral composer/conductor, Eric Whitacre, who had an idea. He put one of his songs out on the internet and gave a call on Youtube for people to sing their parts on video and send them to him. With this, he posted a silent video of him conducting the song. He had a huge response and put together a video of his “Virtual Choir.” This is the first video…
There has been subsequent “Virtual Choir Concerts,” and with each one the response is bigger and bigger. The latest have had thousands of singers from around the world.
Think about that. Thousands of people from around the planet singing one song together.
And it is beautiful.
And I am not just talking about the songs. They are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but the most beautiful thing about this is the thought. People with a shared passion from different countries, different cultures, and different views all joining together for one song. One thought. One idea. Beautiful.
This got me thinking. Is there an application to this idea in education? Can educators from around the country and even around the world come together and have one voice? One message about something? One heart and one passion? And how would we share it?
The more I think about it, the more ideas I have, but it keeps coming back to the question, “What is our one thing as educators?”
And it hit me…we do have something beautiful to share.
This something is so beautiful that it might just change what people think about education…and maybe the way that the education system is viewed and legislated.
That beautiful thing is our students growth and change throughout the year. It is our stories of the magic that happens in the classroom. It is the knowledge of the changes that happen in the lives of our school kids when teaching and learning happens through hard work and relationships. It is in sharing those amazing things that we see happen between day one and the last day of a school year.
We need to share these things. We need to talk about them. The world needs to hear them.
These are the things that cannot be standardized. They do not show up on a test. They cannot be measured. They can not be quantified.
This is our song.
Let’s sing it together!
I want to start collecting stories. I want to hear your voice and share it with the world. Will you help me?
For now, I am going to collect the stories in written form via the contact form at the bottom of the post. I may eventually move to video and/or audio format…but baby steps. Lets start here.
What do you think? Are you in?
So here is all you need to do. I want to hear one of your magical classroom stories about student change and growth. You know, those stories that you hold dear and that keep you going. Tell the story how ever you would like. Just remember to change names to protect privacy. I will share the stories here. Just let me know if you want to be kept anonymous or if I can share your name. The contact form is at the bottom of the post.
Oh, you can share as many stories as you’d like…and please share this post far and wide so I can get as many stories as I can!
This is going to be awesome! You are awesome. I can’t wait to hear your stories! You are an amazing teacher and I know that there are some beautiful things that have happened in your classroom. Keep making those beautiful things happen and keep on teaching, Teacher!
Trial run…leave a story via Google Voicemail: (864) 660-3858).
You do so much. I don’t mean that as a meaningless platitude because it is Teacher Appreciation Week. I mean that as someone who knows. Someone who has and is living the life of a teacher. You do so very much!
It is almost inconceivable how much that you do for your students, your students’ families, your coworkers, your administration, your family, your friends, and…sometimes, every once in a while, on the rare occasion…for yourself…though, that is seriously not as often as it should be. You live and breathe for others. And you do it because you have a heart for others, especially your students.
You do so much!
And there is not much that you get in return; at least not tangible things. This is something you are okay with. You are because you are doing what you do for something bigger. You are working for the lives and future of your students…which is what matters most to you.
You do deserve more, though.
In all honesty, you do deserve more money for all that you do. You deserve more respect from others. You deserve more recognition for the extra miles that you go. You deserve more freedom and autonomy within the system because you do know what you are doing most of the time. With that, you deserve the trust that you can make good decisions for the sake of your students. And the list could go on and on.
You are a great teacher and you deserve more than you get!
You deserve more and you know it…but this is not what is important to you. What is important is that you impact your students lives and help them become the amazing people that they can be one day. This is what makes you awesome. You know you deserve more, but that is not what drives you. Your students drive you. And this is one of the many reasons you deserve more.
We both know that the “more” may never come. But there is one thing that I can offer you. I can offer you a thank you.
Really, really, really, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, Teacher.
I thank you for all that you do. I thank you for the things that you do that you don’t have to. I thank you for your heart. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
I thank you as a fellow teacher who you serve as an example for. I thank you as a parent who has teachers that are like you and are influenced by you. And I thank you as a citizen of the world because you really are making the future better.
Teacher, I can not give you all that you deserve, and for this I am sorry. But I do promise to always try to thank you…even when it is not Teacher Appreciation Week. A thank you is something you deserve every day! I will do my best to try.
You are an amazingly awesome teacher! Thank you for teaching on even though you do not get everything you deserve! You are making a difference and changing lives. Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!
It is here: Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation Season.
It comes around every year. No one loves it, but it is a harsh reality that will probably not go away any time soon.
Students must be tested. Learning must be assessed. Teaching must be evaluated. How else will accountability happen in education? Right?
Why do I hear crickets after asking the question?
Oh yeah, no one wants to talk about it. Okay, so I won’t either. I just want to remind you about something.
You and your students are way more than just an assessment or evaluation result. The learning and growing that happens in your classroom can’t be measured by a standardized test and/or rubric.
The true measurement of what happened in the classroom can only be experienced. You have to know where the students were when they came to you in the beginning of the year…not just academically and according to standards, but also socially, emotionally, and ownership of learning. These things are hard to standardize…no, they are impossible to standardize.
So…DON’T LOSE HEART ABOUT TESTING AND EVALUATIONS!
I know there is a lot tied to them…but breathe. Relax. Remember that the true worth in what happens in your classroom is in the results of the growth that is clear in the students that leave your classroom at the end of the year.
You can’t control the assessment process, but you can control how you react to it.
Don’t put all of your stock in the assessments and evaluations. Instead, take stock of what has happened and the change you have seen in your students…even if it is just a little bit of change in some students, you can celebrate it! A win is a win.
Reflect on what you have seen in each student. Write it down. Point it out to them. Let them see the growth as you take time to see it, too. Make sure they know that this is the true measurement of learning in your class. This will help you and your students find a bit of joy here in the stressful season at the end of the year.
What have you seen and can celebrate?
A student who asks questions more?
Someone who follows instructions more often?
Homework being done a little more often?
Effort being put in where it wasn’t before?
Finishing work and not giving up?
An increase in success for some students?
Waiting more often and taking turns?
Someone who has stopped being mean to others?
The list could go on and on, but I think you get it.
You are an excellent and amazing teacher. I have no doubt you know how to measure the learning and change in your classroom. This is just a little nudge to get back to what you know and to find joy at the end of what has been a trying and tough year.
You have done a great job this year! Your students are changing. They are different students than came to you at the beginning. You are the one to thank for that! You have stuck it out with them. You have put in the effort and tears. You have done whatever it takes to see that change. Celebrate it. You really are an awesome teacher!
Don’t let the testing and evaluations get you bogged down. You and your students are more than scores. You are learners and learning HAS happened this year . You are the reason that it has…and this means that you rock!
Thank you for all you do! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
I so try to avoid this issue here. It is something that we all deal with. It’s something I think most of us feel the same way about. It is a reality of teaching that we all just kind of “deal” with and try not to let it get us too down.
However, this time of year it is hard to avoid, and I think it is getting to a point that we won’t have any choice but to really talk about it.
Standardized testing…state testing…MAP testing…testing to prepare for testing…benchmarks to help us test to prepare for testing…quizzing to help us no where students are before benchmarking progress towards testing…
Testing, testing, testing.
It is an unfortunate requirement of the teaching life in the system we are currently in.
I will probably one day have no choice but to write some of my opinions on all of this, but that is not my goal for the day.
No, my goal is you.
Testing season is one of the most trying times of the year for teachers…know that you are not alone in how you feel right now. And, it is not because it is hard to test students or difficult to keep their attention during reviews (which it can be). Testing season is tough because we have to separate our teaching mind from our teaching heart.
I heard someone say or read something someone said recently (I don’t remember which), “Why do we work so hard to differentiateinstruction for each student just to prepare them for standardized tests?” I think they were being tongue-in-cheek and making a joke, but it really is a good question!
If research shows that differentiated instruction leads to deeper learning, understanding, and memory, wouldn’t follow through that testing should be differentiated so students can show what they have really learned?
There is so much I could say here about this, but I will save it for another time. I think you see what I mean. There is this part of us that really wants to see our students succeed. It is this drive that pushes us to find ways that help each student learn. This is our heart. We want our students to become the people we know that they can be.
Then there is this other side of us that wants (or is forced to need by the system) evidence to prove how much our students are learning. This is where standardized testing fits in. It is the way that we have been given to provide that evidence. If they can answer questions the same way other students do, then they have learned…or so we are told.
Because this is the measure we are using (whether we like it or not), we want to see our students do well on the tests…and this is where the problem lies…
In order for us to prepare our students for the tests so they can do well, we need them to take tests like the one they will take. Some students do this better than others, so we scaffold and differentiate instruction in test taking. We need to prepare for all variances in vocabulary on the test, so we drill, drill, drill. We need to make sure that students know how to find wrong answers, too, so they can eliminate them. So we practice, practice, practice. Also, we need to see real results on how students are progressing toward the test, so we test, test, test…and so the cycle goes on…and on…and on.
All of this takes time. We have to cut out some of the time we want to take for teaching content. We have to cut corners and cut back. We have to teach content in limited ways to buy time. Differentiation of instruction becomes more and more standardized…
And this breaks our teaching heart when we realize this is what we are doing…but not doing this means that some students may not do as well on the tests…and we are torn.
I don’t have an answer for this. I just want to let you know that you really are not alone in this. We are all feeling this tension. It is hard. It make teaching less of a passion and more of a job…and our heart breaks more for this.
Don’t give up, Teacher! Trust your teaching heart. Do what is right for your students! This is the only advice I know to give right now. You can never go wrong in trusting what you know about your students and letting that drive your decisions. Students first!
You know what your students need because you know them and have been fighting hard to differentiate for each one all year – don’t start doubting yourself now!
I know that you try to do what is best for those souls in your room everyday. This is what makes you a great teacher! You are doing a great job! Keep on doing what you feel is what is needed. Don’t doubt yourself! You are amazing and doing an amazing job! Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!
Thank you for all that you do! You are awesome and you rock!