Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Mondays, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance

[put your teaching heart in] Drive


Dear Teacher,

You know, what we do is amazing.  We are teachers!  We get to help students become the people they will be in the future.  We get to live in the teachable moments of every day.  It is a pretty great line of work!

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)

I have shared it before, but last year was a tough year for me.  I won’t get into it now, however it was a difficult year with students and then to top of it test scores might have been the lowest for me.  Even though I felt like it may my best year as a teacher after working through the challenges, I can’t help but wonder if it was a net loss of a year.  I don’t know.

I share that because I stumbled on a great song accidentally because of Twitter (by the way, if you aren’t using Twitter, you should be…I am working on a post on the whys…if you are on it, you should be following Sean Gaillard, Remind, Dear Teacher (of course), among many others!).  Through a random set of events, I was introduced to the music of Shayna Leigh and the song I am about to share.  When I heard it, I knew that I found the perfect song for the first theme song post of the new year!  That said, let’s get to the encouragement!

If you aren’t familiar with how theme song posts work, click play on the song (get through any ads if they play first), and then start reading.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.  Let’s go!

We are teachers.

We carry so much with us from day to day, quarter to quarter, and year to year.

All careers have baggage, but probably none more than being a teacher.

We invest so much of who we are into what we do.

Sometimes it can be hard to recover from the hurt of some of the hard times that come with what we do.

That hurt can weigh us down and cause fear from stepping out to far outside of the box or outside of our comfort zone.

We fight against that fear, but it always seems to be there.  It is just on the periphery.  It stalks us.  It taunts us.  Occasionally, it overwhelms us.  Other times it drives us to push forward and do more.

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 anxiety does not define us, but it does hang out around us.

Some days and years are worst than others.

But there is a way to drive it away.

And it is so simple that it is hard to do.

Remember.

Remember who you were when you started teaching.

You were nervous, but when it came to students you were fearless.

Remember that new teacher that was ready to set the world on fire and change the future single-handedly!

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)

That person is still inside of you.  That person is still you.  You are still fearless.  You still have the fire.

Rekindle that fire and remember.

  • You believed every student mattered and you acted on that belief.
  • You did not care what other people thought, you did what counted most for students.
  • You did not worry about test scores because what really made the difference was your connection with students.
  • You focused on the teaching and learning process individually, not what you were being told worked best for all.
  • You let love and care for each of those people in your room drive your instruction and behavior.
  • You believed that what you did with each child truly made a difference.
  • You had confidence in yourself and your gifts/skills as a teacher.

All of those things are still true.  That never stopped being true.  The baggage of prior years and yesterdays mistakes do not define you.  Your drive and love for students does…and that is still there.  Remember it today!

Teacher, drive back to where you started.  That is where you live as a teacher.  And that is what will get you back on your feet to try again.

You are an amazing teacher!  Never forget that!  You are making a difference and what you do does matter!  It matters more than you know!  Keep on believing in yourself and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Reason for Teaching, Reflection

It’s Grow Time


Dear Teacher,

Happy New Year!  And so a new one begins, huh?  I am not sure what this school year has been like for you so far, but you have a fresh start to the second half.  What are you going to do with it?

Image: Wikipedia

I can’t help but think of a new year as a seed.  It is something that is up to you on how it will grow.  Like I teach my students whenever I teach my unit on plants, seeds stay dormant until they have the right conditions to grow.

I moved into my current classroom and curriculum three years ago.  In one of the drawers, I have many as a science teacher, I found a bag of beans.  I had no idea how old they were and decided not to use them….until this year.

Image: Wikipedia

This year, I went a little “grow crazy” during the plant unit and tried to plant as much as I can using the big grow light set-up we have.  I remembered those seeds.  I did the germination in a damp paper towel thing, and despite the age of the seeds, they still germinated!

I planted them, watered them, and let time and nature do the rest.  As I said, I grew several things all at the same time.  I was disappointed that, though many things flowered, nothing came to fruit…or so I thought.

Another teacher came to observe in my room and we got talking about my plants and how the plants flowered by nothing else.  He knows a lot more about growing than I do, and he started looking through them.  And he found something…on the bean plants.  He found little bean pods.  Not only did they grow, they produced more seeds!  I was disappointed in the size until some students and I started looking through the plants and we found large bean pods!  It was a cool moment for this science teacher who is bad at growing stuff!

(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Though the beans were who-knows-how-old, they were still dormant and waiting for the right conditions to grow.

Why did I share this story?

Teacher, you may have had a rough school year.  Not much may seem to have happened for you or your students.  You may have seen nothing but seedlings so far…or worse, you just see empty soil.

Do not give up!

You have a fresh start coming up!

Your seeds may still just be dormant.

You just need the right conditions for growth!

I do not know what growth or the right conditions look like for you, but you do.  What will it take to make that happen?  What do you need?  What do you need to focus on?

Stop whining about what is going wrong this year and work on what is going right!  Give yourself and your students the light, water, and nutrients needed for growth!  Reflect, regroup, and regrow!

(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You can do it!

You know what it takes!

You have what it takes!

It time to get growing!

It is grow time, Teacher!

You are awesome and I know you have what it takes to get things growing this year.  You are an amazing teacher.  You are making a difference.  Don’t give up!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

Year-End Close Out Pep Talk


Dear Teacher,

So, the old Earth is finishing up another trip around the Sun.  New Year’s Day is kind of like Earth’s birthday.  Another year is over and it is time to start a new one.  I bet you are reflecting aren’t you?  It is kind of the human thing to do.

Image: Wikipedia

How was this year for you?  What were the highs?  What were the lows?  How are you feeling about a new one starting?

Since you are in an introspective mood, I want to give a challenge to your inner monologue.

There is something you need to think about.  The year is over, but the school year isn’t even halfway.  This has been a difficult school year for most of us.  We have been beat-up, beat-down, and you just feel beat.

You need something to get you through the rest of the year.

You need one thought.

You need a reminder.

This is a reminder only you can give yourself.

You need to answer one question, and I think you should answer it right now.  Write down your answer.  Give some reasons why you answered the way that you did.  Put it somewhere to remind you for the rest of the year.

Are you ready?

Why are you a teacher?

I know, I know, this year you have probably asked yourself that a lot…with sarcasm and negativity.  That is not what I am talking about.  You need to reflect on the whole reason why you became a teacher in the first place.  You need to think about the heart of what and why you do what you do and deal with what you have to deal with.  There has to be a reason.  You probably have many.

Image: Wikipedia

I bet your reason has little to do with content.  It probably has everything to do with students and making a difference.  I know this is the case for me.

Let me give you my reasons.  This is more for me than for you…because I am a teacher and I need to do this as much as you do!

Why am I a teacher?

  • I have a huge heart and am filled with compassion for people that have little to no resources (aka…live at or near the poverty line)…teaching at a Title I school is a great way to have an impact and make a difference.
  • I want to help students, especially at-risk boys, start thinking through choices and become leaders in their families and communities.
  • I love to learn and pass that love of learning on to others.
  • I love the process of teaching and learning and I love to teach others how to learn better.
  • I am creative and obviously have a gift for teaching, I would be miserable not using my abilities and talents to help others.
  • Teaching is in my blood and I live for it…I would be bored doing anything else.

I can probably come up with 1000 more reasons, but I think this is a enough for now.  That was helpful to my teaching heart and teaching soul!  Thanks for letting me do that here!

What about you?  Why are you a teacher?

(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)

You are awesome and you are good at what you do!  I highly recommend some reflection on your reasons for teaching.  It might make you ready to endure more of what is wearing you out this year.  You have a reason.  You have a purpose.  You are making a difference.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Thank You!, You Are Awesome!!!

A Little Reminder


Dear Teacher,

I hope that you have had a restful, resetting break so far!  I really do.

As the business of Christmas settles down I know that thoughts of school are starting to creep back in.  I know this is true because you are a great teacher.

This is why I am writing to you today.  I want to say thank you.  Thank you for being a great teacher.  Thank you for all that you do.  Thank you for your patience.  Thank you for your creativity.  Thank you for you!

You are amazing!

You are a gift to your students.

You are a gift to education.

You are a gift to the world!

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!

image

You are awesome.  You are making a difference.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Cheer Up, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note from Student, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic

Your Secret Teacher Identities…


(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) ... oh, and this was made using www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!
(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) … oh, and this was made using http://www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!

Dear Teacher,

I know that you are tired.  Just know that all you do is worth it.  You are making a difference!  You are so awesome!

Keep on teaching, Teacher.

Love, Teacher

PS…Those that saw the first message last night…I updated the picture.  The color scheme needed an adjustment.

Posted in General Inspiration, Get Psyched!, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic, You Are Awesome!!!

A Sorta Message for the September Slump


Dear Teacher,

Only teachers understand the September Slump.  The newness of the year has worn off and we are into the thick of things.  We are tired and worn out, but we are still fighting strong.  Here is a little rally message for your Semptember Slump.

Keep on teaching, Teacher!  You are awesome!

Love, Teacher

(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) ... oh, and this was made using www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!
(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) … oh, and this was made using http://www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!
Posted in Pep Talk, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic

Small Notes – Big and Awesome Message


(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)
(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 think the notes say it all.  You are awesome!  Keep going, keep going, keep going!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Cheer Up, General Inspiration, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic, Thank You!

Letter from the World (that you may never get)


Dear Teacher,

I know that we all struggle through the tough patches of working in a somewhat thankless career.  More than that, we are often scrutinized and demeaned by people who just don’t understand what we do.  That can be hard, but we take it in stride and keep pressing on, even if no one notices.  That is what makes us awesome.  That is what makes you awesome!

I have put words to the unspoken thanks of students in the past, but I thought this morning I might give words to the unspoken thanks to someone else.  I know this letter will probably never happen, but I am sure that there are those out there who definitely feel this way.  So here is a letter to us from the world at-large.

Know that it is all true, even if we seldom hear it.  Read it, smile, and know you are awesome.  Share it with other teachers and lets get this Encouragement Revolution kicked into high gear today!

(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)

You are awesome.  You are amazing.  You are making a difference, even if it is only in the background where very few see it.  You are making the future, and the world thanks you!  I thank you!  Thank you, Teacher!  Keep on teaching!

Love, Teacher

PS…I know I keep talking about it, but I am so excited about these posters and how they can motivate students (intrinsically) to keep moving and pressing on!  The Motivational ABCs Poster/Word Wall are available in the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher TeachersPayTeachers Store…check it out, if you haven’t had the chance!  The image in this post is one of the printable posters in the set.  Oh, and the posters are on a deep discount sale this week!  You have $2 to motivate students, don’t you?  🙂

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Theme Song

Freedom [when you let it go]


Dear Teacher,

Great Monday morning to you!  I know, there are very few times in the thick of the school year that we view Mondays as necessarily great…we are often being pulled from every angle and feeling like we are ten seconds from being ripped into pieces.  Monday only makes it worse because we look forward to the pulling starting over fresh and new.  It doesn’t have to be this way!

How do we keep ourselves together when everything wants us to fall apart, especially on a Monday?  That is what today and this week’s theme song is all about.  The best part is that I get to share one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists with you, and you probably have never heard of him or the song.  Get ready to be a fan.

Click play and read on (just in case you are new and didn’t know 🙂 ).  When you are done, you might want to go back and watch the video.  It is pretty cool.

Teacher, you have so much on your plate.  You have things that need to get done.  You have expectations to meet.  You have classroom management issues to deal with.  You have parents to call.  You have plans to plan and implement.  You have profession development to go to and show evidence of using and applying.  You have test to write, give, get data from, reflect on, and plan to use to differentiate and raise student achievement.  You have books to read, papers to grade, and Common Core to implement.

You have people constantly looking over your shoulder telling you what to do and who to be as a teacher.  You have parents who don’t think you are handling their child correctly.  You have administration analyzing your every word and move in the classroom.  You have curriculum specialists giving commentary on every strategy and technique you use and giving you tips and pointers on how do do things differently.  You have ever changing district, state, and federal mandates and standards that are to be followed to the “t” with little variation.

You have a life outside of school.  You have pressures from other places.  You have family.  You have friends.  You have a life…at least you try to have one.

You have students.  Students who need you to be more than just a implementer of plans.  They need you, the person.  They need your heart, soul, and mind to help them navigate through the storms of life and education.  They need a mentor.  They need a teacher.  They need you.

Students are why you do what you do.  Students are the key to education.  Students are the ends and the means.  Without them there are no standards, tests, data, professional development, or lesson plans.

Students are the heart of it all.  Students are your heart.  Students are why you are where you are.  Students make you a teacher.

You are pulled and yanked in a thousand directions every day.  You feel that weight the most on Sunday nights and Monday mornings.  The waves of the life of a teacher are constantly trying to pull you under.  The current is strongest at the beginning of the week.

What do you do?  How do you combat this?  How do you go against the flow that wants to drag you down?  How can you make a Monday feel great and something you look forward to seeing?

One word: STUDENTS,

We have to learn to to be brave enough to run into the flames of the fight to let every decision we make be completely centered on our students.  We have to train ourselves to let things go for the sake of our students.  They need to be the answer to every question that starts with “Why did you…”  Students, their hearts, and their minds need to be key.  Few people know them like you do, and you need to stand up and say what you think will work best for them.

It is hard, though.  It is hard to let go of some of the anxiety and fear of not meeting the expectations of others.  Not meeting deadlines.  Having to answer those hard “why” questions.  I can’t tell you how to do this for you.  I can tell you, though, that it is worth it.

I have been teaching long enough to know that expectations, standards, and mandates change.  The current of education moves with the latest and greatest ideas and research, but often it is a circular pattern that always comes back to best practices that have been around for a long time.  Tap into that and you will see that it always comes back to some of the same themes.  Follow those themes and you can keep up with the changes (I will try to write about some of those themes later).

I am not saying to rebel or not follow guidelines and mandates.  I am definitely not saying that.  I am just saying that you will start to remember why you love being a teacher when the students return to being your focus for all that you do.  And if you get off from the expectations set for you, make sure that your answer has something to do with the specific needs of your students.  That is what is key and paramount.

Let go of the fear.  Let go of the anxiety.  Let the students be the reason for all that you do.  Make them the goal.  Open up your heart and mind to letting them come first.  You will start to feel the freedom that comes from that.  You will see that everything comes back around.

You may have to answer questions or be “fussed” at from time to time.  Don’t let that worry you.  One day, when a student comes back and tells you the influence you had on them and how that changed their life, what are you going to remember?  Are you going to remember the lecture you were given or are you going to remember why you became a teacher?  I think I know the answer.

Let things go and let yourself make choices in your classroom and with your time that come out of love and care for your students.  I promise, when you let it go it will come right back to you.  You will make it through and be a better teacher for it!

Don’t be afraid to let go!

(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)

You are awesome!  You are making such a difference in the lives of your students.  Keep going.  Don’t act out of fear but act out of love and concern for your students.  You will never regret it!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…In case you missed the announcement yesterday, I am very excited to announce the Motivational ABCs Poster/Word Wall now available in the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher TeachersPayTeachers Store!  Check it out, if you haven’t had the chance!  The image above is one of the printable posters in the set.

Posted in Uncategorized

(I wanna see you be) Brave


Dear Teacher,

Good morning!  Ready or not, a new week is here.  Whether you are at the beginning, middle, or end of a school year, Mondays can be rough.  They are especially difficult if you are feeling the grind of the work that we do.  This is why I do my Monday posts.  This is why I give you a theme song for the day and week.  Sometimes I have a good idea for the song I want to use and words to write to go with it, sometimes it just comes together when I go looking for a song.

This morning I had a song and words in mind, but then when the search for the song began something else happened.  I found a song I have never heard that is amazing…and the message from the song is timely and needed by me, so I figure other people are in the same boat.  I hope so, it is always weird when the message is just for me!  Anywho, for those who know the deal, click play and read on.  If you are new to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher, click play, get past the ads, and then read on.

If you have time, watch the video again after reading.  It is a pretty inspirational video, at least it was for me!

Teacher, you stand out in a crowd.  Not because you want to, it is more because you have to.  You stand in front of a group of students every day.  You are in the spotlight.  You lead a group of people that need you to make choices that affect their future.  It is quite overwhelming, if you think about it, but you take it in stride.  It is what you are made for…it is what you do and want to do.

Embracing your role, though, doesn’t make it any easier.  And it is coupled with many other aspects of your job where you have to make choices that put a bulls-eye on you.  You have to fight curriculum battles.  You have to work on classroom management.  You have to answer to parents.  You have to answer to students.  You have to answer to administration.  You have to answer to your department.  You have to answer to your team.  You have to answer to your district.  You have to…well, I think you get the point.  You know this.  You are front and center for everything that you do and say in your classroom and beyond.

You have a lot of hats.  You play a lot of roles.  You do so many things, yet you have the heat of eyes staring at you constantly as you try to make the right decisions day after day after day.  You are, like the video, dancing in a crowd of people who are all trying to figure out what you are doing and why.

Sometimes, with all of that, there is pressure to put on a show.  There is the temptation to just do what is expected and never be outside of the box.  Even when you know that your students need more, the cop-out path of just following the status quo is always in front of you.  It is a way out.  It is an escape.  If you take that route, you can just blame the system if things do not pan out.  “I was just following orders” is so much easier to say than “I took a risk, it did not work out, and I am sorry.”

Teacher, I know you.  You know what is best for your students.  You know what they need and how to push and challenge them to bigger and greater things.  You know the risks, but you also see the rewards.  You know when to step out.  You know when to speak up.  You know when to take a stand.  You know all of these things…all you need to do is be brave and do them.

I want to see you be brave.  I want you to speak the truth.  I want you to make the choices that make your students better students and better people.  I want you to take the risks you need to take and reap the rewards that come from them.  I want to see you be brave.

Rest assured that the system usually comes around to the brave ones.  There were many teachers using technology before it was the expectation.  They had to defend their choices constantly, and now look at the world of education–the things that once seemed strange is the norm.

There were many “common core” teachers before Common Core was even a thing.  They had to defend and stand up for the way that they were teaching.  Science teachers had to defend the amount of reading and writing that they pushed.  English teachers had to give an account for why they thought informational texts were as important, or even more important than novels.  They fought and held their ground, and look at what the world looks like now.

Teacher, keep doing what you know is right.  Keep what is best for your students in sight.  Don’t be afraid to be brave.  Be brave today.  Be brave this week.  Be brave this year.  I just wanna see you be brave!

You are awesome.  You are amazing.  You are brave.  Be these things today!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…For those who are into Pinterest, there is a Pinterest contest that ends next week.  See the second half of this post from last week for details.