Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk, Theme Song

(there can be miracles) When You Believe


Classroom Image from Wikimedia Commons

Dear Teacher,

I am so sorry.  I was not able to post my normal Monday morning post.  Even though the weekly theme song is a day late, the week is still young.  I chose this song because it is a powerful one sung by to powerful voices.  I need this boost of inspiration this week, I don’t know about you.  Click play (and skip the ad if one comes up) and then read on.

For those of us on summer break, it is slowly coming to a close.  The days are soon approaching when you will be meeting your students at the door of your classroom.  You will, once again, be that face of education for them.  You will be the one that sets the tone for your class and the day for many of your students.  What you say, do, think, and feel about them will help decide what they say, do, think, and feel about themselves.

Our job is hard,  We have to plan curriculum, timing, assessments and the like.  We have to implement and delver those plans we made.  We have to manage the classroom.  We have to help students on their good days and their bad days.  We have to help students on our good and bad days.  We have to deal with difficult students and find ways to bring them back into the learning environment.  We have to keep students engaged.  We have to find a way to help them learn.  We have to ensure they are ready for success on state tests.  We have to follow guidelines and expectations from the state, district, and administration.  We have a lot of balls to juggle at once.  It is hard to keep them all in the air most days.

And along with all of this, and probably above all of this, we are the key to our students’ attitude and belief about learning and education.  The way we talk, carry ourselves, and visibly feel (feeling show) affect how they act and feel.  Your attitude sets their attitude.  Your tone sets their tone.  Your expectations for them become the expectations that they have for themselves.

The best word that I can think of to sum this up is belief.  I am not talking about spiritual belief (though important to most people), I am talking about belief in yourself and others.  Beliefs are powerful.  They affect you and those around you.  What you believe sets the atmosphere of your classroom and the students sitting in it.  Your belief in them and what you are teaching them becomes what they believe.  If your belief about achievement is low, it will be low for your students.  If it is high, it will be high for your students.

The amazing thing about beliefs is that you don’t have to talk someone into them.  You don’t need “buy-in.”  If you are bought in, your students will eventually be bought in.  When someone truly believes in you, eventually you start to believe them and then believe in yourself.  This is doubly true for your students.  You set the environment of belief and they tune into it.  Like it or not, this is the reality.

So…what are your beliefs for the coming year (or the year you are in if you are currently teaching)?  What does your belief about your students, classroom, and school say to the students.  Are your goals set unbelievably high?  If they aren’t, they should be.  Set them high and believe, truly believe, that your students can reach them.  Make them attainable goals, but make them lofty.  Once your goals are in place, communicate them constantly to your students.  Then believe.  Believe.  Believe.  Your students WILL buy in and start to believe themselves.

The song is so right.  There can be miracles when you believe.  Belief helps you to do things that you never thought you could do before.  It makes you rise to heights you did not know you could reach.  It makes you more than you could be.

A few posts back, I shared a bunch of clips.  Two of them were from Taylor Mali.  The last one is called “Miracle Workers.”  In it he talks about teachers as miracle workers.  He says this near the end of the talk/poem, “Education is the miracle.  I am just the work.  I am a teacher, and that’s what we do.”

Be a miracle worker.  Set high goals for the year and believe, believe, BELIEVE!

You are awesome!  I know this week will be great for you.  I know this coming school year (or current one) will be great.  Be awesome because you are awesome.  If you need someone to believe in you, know that I do.  I believe in you.  Be amazing!  Keep on dreaming and teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Secret Occupations of Teachers

You, Teacher, Are a Flight Attendant


(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,

Earlier this summer I did some traveling with my family. A part of that travel was a few trips on airplanes, and this was my preschool’s son first time going on airplanes. This let me think and view the trip from his perspective. There was a sense of wonder and awe with everything on the airplane and all of the aspects of riding on one. As I enjoyed sitting with him as he took it all in, it got me thinking and this spurred an idea in my mind. This idea is what became the Secret Occupations of Teachers (S.O.o.T.) posts.

Today S.O.o.T. is the one that started this idea in the first place. Teachers are like flight attendants. I know, this one is going to seem like a bit of a stretch, but just bare with me. I think it will make sense. 🙂

A flight attendant is an important part of a flight crew. Of all of the roles that are played on an airplane, the flight attendant is the most public, at least to passengers. Basically, they are the face of the flight. They are who set the tone before, during, and after take-off and landing.

The job of flight attendant serves two main functions: ensure that safety regulations are being followed and to make sure that passengers as as comfortable as possible during the flight. Everything that flight attendants do fall under those categories. CareerPlanner.com gives the following job description:

1) Announce and demonstrate safety and emergency procedures such as the use of oxygen masks, seat belts, and life jackets.

2) Answer passengers’ questions about flights, aircraft, weather, travel routes and services, arrival times, and/or schedules.

3) Assist passengers in placing carry-on luggage in overhead, garment, or under-seat storage.

4) Assist passengers while entering or disembarking the aircraft.

5) Attend preflight briefings concerning weather, altitudes, routes, emergency procedures, crew coordination, lengths of flights, food and beverage services offered, and numbers of passengers.

6) Check to ensure that food, beverages, blankets, reading material, emergency equipment, and other supplies are aboard and are in adequate supply.

To sum it up, flight attendants are all about passengers. To keep them safe. To keep them happy as possible. I know there have been some stories in the news where this did not happen, and most of us have had a bad experience or two, but for the most part we can probably say that a majority of flight attendants do the best job possible. Which would be hard, if you think about it. They know that they probably will not see the passengers again, and sometimes the passengers can be rude for a number of reasons. They put up with a lot, but they try to keep a smile on their faces as they pass passengers on from one place to the next as safely and comfortably as possible.

(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)

Acknowledgement

Teacher, you are a flight attendant. You have two main roles as a teacher, to ensure a safe environment for learning and to provide and atmosphere that makes learning comfortable (comfortable in terms of growing understanding, thinking skills/processes, independent thought, etc…). When the learning environment is safe and comfortable, thinking, understanding, and learning happens.

I know that I have shared this quote before, but what Albert Einstein said fits so well here:

I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide an environment in which they can learn.

We, as teachers, set the tone, atmosphere, and safety net for learning. We make sure that students feel secure. We make sure that they are safe physically, mentally, and emotionally. We make sure that they have what they need. We go over the procedures over, and over, and over, and over, and over…and then one more time. We provide for them. We even sometimes give snacks…on the longer flights of knowledge. And we put up with a lot…keeping a smile the best that we can.

Encouragement

The constant smile on your face comes with a cost…it is hard to do and sometimes almost hurts to take what gets thrown at you.  Sometimes you do not handle it well, but those times are not often.  You do your best to keep your cool.  You do your best to keep a straight face as you go over the “safety procedures” while your student roll there eyes.  You try to deal with disgruntled “passengers” the best that you can and keep an even tone.  You do your best to work with your “passengers” even though the “pilots” may be making what you need to do difficult from time to time.  You try to keep that smile and continue to keep your “passengers” safe and the learning environment comfortable.

You are awesome.  People who think you do not do miracles every day just don’t know what you do.  They don’t understand.  Students, parents, administration, and anyone else who gives you negative feedback from time to time do not see your day-to-day and minute-to-minute.  Take it with a grain of salt, change what you can change, and move on.  You are amazing.  Keep that smile up no matter what goes down.  You are good at what you do and you are making a difference.

Challenge

Teacher, are you doing all that you can do to keep the learning environment as safe and comfortable as you possibly can?  What can you do improve the atmosphere of your classroom and optimize learning every day?  The challenge I would like to give to you is to find some way you can make a change.  It can be a teaching strategy or a change in how you view thinking and learning.  Pick one thing.  Study it.  Absorb it.  Plan with it.  Implement it.  One thing.  Summer folks, you even have a few weeks left to do this.

A couple of suggestions of things that I have pick as some of my “one things”:

  • Problem/Project Based Learning (PBL) – PBL is a buzzword (well, buzz-letters) you probably have been hearing about if you do not already know about it and use it.  Basically, it is giving your content relevance to the students and teaching with an end in mind that the students buy into.  The Buck Institute for Education is one of the best sources out there.  Edutopia also has some great information and available resources for incorporating PBL.  Project Based Learning has a self-guided mini-course you can work through to learn more, and this is the site that helped me the most.
  • Brain-Based Learning – as you can probably infer, brain-based learning uses current brain research to improve the understanding of teaching and learning processes and helps you change your teaching strategies in light of this.  Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen, which I know I talk about a lot, was the beginning of my understanding and implementation brain-based learning.  He also has several other books (Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching, and Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain, to name a few…and no, they are not paying me for endorsements, I am just a fan!).  There are other great resources out there, as well.  There is a book that I plan to get soon that would be a great place to start, Brain Rules by John Medina (who is a molecular biologist who knows what he is talking about…he is not just a former teacher).  Another great resource is How the Brain Learns by Dr. David Sousa (viewed as one of the leading experts on the brain and learning).  You can do an internet search and find a number of online resources, as well.

Teacher, you are a flight attendant.  It may seem like a lesser job on the flight crew, but it really one of the most important.  What you do is important.  Very important!  You set the tone, atmosphere, and environment for learning.  And you do it with a smile.  You are awesome!  Keep on smiling and keep on teaching!

Remember this, we are only flight attendants for our students on their way from one city to the next on their journey of life.  Don’t waste the little time that you have with them!  Now, please return your seats and tray tables to the proper, upright position.  🙂

(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)

Love, Teacher

PS…Thanks for reading through this one.  It was long!  I hope it was worth your time!

Oh, and for those of you who use Edmodo, I have started an Edmodo Group for the daily updates.  This way I will be able to make the “Edmodo blasts” in the Communities few and far between…I don’t know that everyone “loves” them.  🙂