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.

IMG_0438

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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Ain’t No Tired Like Teacher Tired…


Dear Teacher,

It’s been a while.  I am sorry about that.  I have been busy…teacher busy.  You know, no time for the extras in life.  I know I am preaching to the choir here, but being a teacher is exhausting!

So much to do.  So much to think about.  So much to plan for.  So much to do.  Wait, did I say that already?

And that is just the school stuff.  Then there is home life.  Friend life.  Life.  Who has the time?

We do…we make the time…but we are tired.  Being tired is okay.  It comes with the job.  But…

Make sure your tired is worth it.

Sometimes our tired comes from doing things that really, really, REALLY matter for our students (and our life).  Sometimes it doesn’t.

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)

Sometimes we are spending our time and energy on things that may not be that important.  Often times, these things are given to us to do by other.  Other times we give these things to ourselves.

It is easier said than done, but we have got to prioritize…and that means taking a hard look at ourselves and what we are doing.  It might mean carving away things we love to do in our classroom but really aren’t making much of a difference.  It might also mean taking a stand with powers that be about things that are not worth the time and energy taken away from your students.

It is hard, but you need to do it, Teacher.  I need to do it.  Our students can’t afford to have us burn out.

And I know you can do this.  You are awesome!  You are amazing.  You can definitely make changes and fight battles for the sake of your students and your sanity!  You can do it.  I can do it.  We just have to step up and do it!

I can’t be anymore specific on how to prioritize because I don’t know your situation.  But I think you know the things that can and need to go.  Whatever they are, I totally have your back and believe in you.  I don’t want an amazing teacher like you to burnout and leave the field that needs you.

Have I mentioned that you are awesome?  Well, you are!

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)

Thank you for all you do.  Thank you for the work you put it.  Thank you for fighting hard to make a difference in the life of your students.  You are.  You definitely are!  You rock!  Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Could you do me a favor and check out the new posters I created and let me know what you think?  They are based on growth mindset.  I tried to come up with a way to promote the mindset with my classroom walls.  This is the second set of these (you can get a free preview of some of the posters from each set here).  I am a big believe in promoting growth mindset…and students eyes wonder around the room anyway, why not have something on the wall to help inspire them to set goals and work hard to reach them?!  Oh, and if you like them, they are on sale right now!  Thanks!  🙂

DearTeacherLT2016 - The Motivational/Growth-Mindset ABCs (volume two)

DearTeacherLT2016 – The Motivational/Growth-Mindset ABCs (volume two)

 

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)

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

 

A Call for Help – Let’s Raise Our Teacher Voices


Dear Teacher,

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.

Very 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?

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)

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!

Love, Teacher

Trial run…leave a story via Google Voicemail: (864) 660-3858).

 

 

What You Deserve, Teacher…


Dear Teacher,

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!

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use this picture if you link back to this blog.)

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use this picture if you link back to this blog.)

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.

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 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!

Love, Teacher