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.
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.
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!
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!)
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).