Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers

To Be a Teacher…


Dear Teacher,

I am sorry that my words of encouragement have been few and far between this year.  It has been a rough and busy school year.

But I guess that this is not news to you.

As I talk to and get feedback from other teachers, I am hearing the same thing from them.  It is a tough year.  There is no time.  It is all that I can do to keep my head above water.

We are all just trying to survive this year, aren’t we.

It isn’t easy for any of us, even the most veteran teachers.

This school is is just plain difficult.

I have some good news and some encouragement for you today.

The Good News:  For most of us, this school year is half-way over!

And there was much rejoicing.

The Encouragement:

You know what takes to be a good teacher.  Nay.  You know what it takes to be a GREAT teacher.  You know because you are one.

I know that this is a trying year.  There is so much extra on your plate.  There are so many curve balls to contend with and handle.  There is just a lot of…well…everything this year.  It is not easy to let your greatness show.

But, you awesome teacher, you, know what your students need.  You know what is best.  You know how to reach and teach even the most difficult students in your class.  You know what it takes to get your students where they need to go.  You have the knowledge and the know-how!

I have four words for you: Stick to your guns!

Stay true to the teacher that you know you are.  Sometimes that means having to fight battles over what is best for your classroom.  Sometimes you just have to go through the motions of the extra that you are asked to do.  Sometimes you need to let a few of those unneeded plates drop (you know all of those many plates that you have to spin for the sake of spinning and not for the sake of the precious ones in your class).  Sometimes you just have to stand up for what is right.

It is not always easy to do, but you have to remember who you are there for…your students.

I know, there is voice after voice after voice telling you the best way to do your job.  Sometimes those voices are right.  Sometimes you are already doing a good job and can afford to put some voices on mute.  Have the courage to do that.  Find the voices that count, but don’t forget your own.

Be courageous and do what needs to be done today.

Make your students your goal.

Remember them today.

Be strong.

You can do it!

(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 I completely believe in you!  You have what it takes to do what it takes.  You are making a difference!  You are strong and courageous.  I know that you will make choices today that will help your students be everything that they can be!  Keep going!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Advertisements
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 General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Take Care of Yourself, You Are Awesome!!!

The Reset Button


Dear Teacher,

I hope that you are finally on break now.  If not, I hope today is your last day!  You need it!  You deserve a little break.

Today’s message is going to start a little differently than most.  I want to reflect a little on my childhood.  Keep reading, though.  There is a point that brings it all back to teaching.  🙂

I grew up in the golden age of the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  It was the most wonderful thing in the world to me.  You could have adventures, solve mysteries, and just have tons of fun.  It was great!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Well…it was great for a while.

After a few years, it started to run a little slower.  Before too long, it started having trouble starting the games.  This happened to almost everyone I knew.  We had to blow into the games.  We had to find creative ways to slide the games in.  We had to hope against hope every time we pressed the power button.

Near the end of the life of the NES, you got to know the reset button very, very well.

Each time the game messed up, we pressed reset.

When the game froze up, we pressed reset.

Oh, and there is also the we-did-not-do-so-well-in-the-game times, and we pressed reset.

Reset.  Reset.  Reset.  It was the stand-by that we always went to.

Well, Teacher, you are more than a game system, but you, too get worn down.  You are tired.  You are mentally exhausted.  You are emotionally worn out.

Sometimes, the game messes up on you.  Sometime teaching “freezes” up on you.  Sometimes you are not just doing very well.  These are especially true this time of year and most definitely this year…it has been a rough one for almost every teacher I have talked to.

You need what we relied on with the NES…you need a reset.

Winter break is our reset button built into the year.

I really do think that is the main reason that we need it.  We all need a reset here at the almost school year half-time.

We need a break.  We need a refresh.  We need the hope of a fresh start in the year.

That is what you need.  Don’t forget it.

The holidays are great!  Take the time to reconnect with friends and family.  Do all of the fun, holiday things.  That is all a part of it.  Just do me a favor and don’t forget about you.

Take some down time.

Do something you love doing.

TAKE A BREAK!

Just be.

Refresh teacher.

Hit that reset button…what ever that looks like for you.

Teacher, I hope you have a tremendous break and happy holidays!  Just remember that you need to recharge.  Don’t forget to reset.

You are awesome!  I know that you will take some time for you.  You are doing a great job this year, even if it does not always feel that way.  You really are making a difference!  Reset and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Cheer Up, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Reflection

So, You’ve Had a Week from…Well, You Know…



 

Dear Teacher,

If you are like a lot of other teachers that I have talked to this week, you may have just had a pretty rough week.  It was pretty mediocre for me, but I have had a bad week or two recently, as well.

Fridays of bad weeks can be good and bad.  They are great because the week is over.  They really stink because you have to take stock of the week and figure out what went wrong.

If the week was bad enough, we probably lost our cool and did some things that we aren’t quite proud of…poor reactions, poor choices, etc…  Fridays like that are even worse.  We have to deal with the week and deal with ourselves.  Never, ever, ever fun.

So, for those that had a long week, let’s have a theme song post.  Click play and then read on.

Teacher, your job is hard.

You have so much to deal with every day.

It seems like the days that go bad, go bad in almost every way possible.

One bad day can lead into another…and another…and before you know it, you have had a bad week.

Bad weeks happen.  They happen to the best and worst of us.  They bring out the worst in us…but don’t forget, they also bring out the best of us.

“What do you mean, teacher-who-obviously-did-not-have-a-bad-week?”

I know that you don’t want to think about it today, at the end of your awful week, but bad days and weeks teach us more than the good ones.

  • We learn what doesn’t work.
  • We learn what some of our “triggers” are.
  • We learn what we need to avoid.
  • We learn that the students may nor have learned as we thought they did.

Not only that, weeks after bad weeks always seem to help us get stronger as a teacher.  We dig in, we find a way to keep moving and keep going, and we find ways to try to avoid weeks like we just had.

  • We learn new strategies because we had to work so hard just to get through the week.
  • We learn that we had resources that we did not know that we had.
  • We learn that we are stronger than we thought we were.
  • We learn that we have students that cared about our bad weeks (when they come and say that they are glad the next week is going better for us).
  • We learn that we have colleagues that actually do care about us (even if it is just one or two).
  • We learn that we love teaching as much as we thought we did, even though we hated it the week before (the bad week).

There is a silver lining, Teacher.  Even if you don’t see it now, it is there.

It is okay to bemoan your bad week.  It is human.  Hate this week.  Wish it never happened.  Lick your wounds and do what you need to do, just don’t stay there.

Find the strength.  Find a way.  Move on.  Use this week to become the awesome teacher that you are and can be.

Bad weeks suck, but we need them.  You can get through this.

And never forget…you are not there for you.  You are at your school and in your classroom for your students.

They matter most.

They are your motivation to get through this.

You can do it.

You are awesome!  I know this week was bad, but you can and will keep moving.  Even in this horrible week, you made a difference…even if you don’t know it now.  Keep going.  Never give up.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, You Are Awesome!!!

More Than “Just Okay”


Dear Teacher,

I have a feeling that you are like me.  You are a decent teacher, but sometimes you have moments of sheer teaching genius.  You have times where everything that you touch turns to teaching gold.  Those times are few and fleeting, but they happen.

We also have those fortunately fleeting flickers of time when the opposite happens.  Everything you touch turn to teaching…well, you know what I mean.

We tend to get hung up on those two extremes.  We either look back at those hours of  greatness and wonder how to get back to them, or we beat ourselves up for the seconds of eternal not-so-greatness and try to figure out how to avoid them forever.

What we miss more than too often are the times in-between.  The every day situations.  The times when things work out just okay.

I think that the “just okays” are more important than everything else.

Why?

Because the “just okays” are what we do as teachers.

Huh?

I won’t go into it again today, but yesterday I reminded us all of all the things that we deal with as teachers every minute of every day.  We have a lot working against us.  There are a mountain of issues that we have to climb each and every day.  It is almost like we are set up to fail most days.

But we don’t fail.

Somehow we survive.

More than that…

Somehow we are able to teach, reach, and help students become learners and better people.

The every day “just okays” are how we do this.

The awesomeness of what we do happens in the daily grind of teaching.  We have a sense of what needs to be done, what we need to do to get it done, and ability to somehow get this things done.

Everyday we just have to have faith that we know the right things…and we step out in that faith.  Somehow, when all is said and done, we find that we were usually right with the choices that we made in our classroom day-to-day.

The steps of faith are what make up okay days.  The cool thing is that those kind of days add up.  Over time, we can look back and see that we are, just maybe, a little better than “just okay.”

Another result of the pressing on in faith to make days okay also help us do something else pretty cool.  Over time, the “okay days” also often lead to those moments of grandeur and away from of the moment of lack-of-grandeur.  The more okay that we have, the more great days tend to build up and we have longer periods of time between the terrible, horrible, no good, really bad days.

I am reminded of a scene from one of the best movies ever, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Indiana has to trust his interpretation of clues that he is chasing.  He stands over a huge chasm.  He thinks he know what to do.  His father’s life is in the balance.  He has to trust what he thinks is right.  Do I need to point out the connections to the “just okay” days?  I think you get it!  Anyway, watch this clip.

“Just okay” is not a bad thing.

“Just okay” is not an awful goal.

“Just okay” means you are doing something right.

So what does this mean for you and me?  We need to daily have faith in ourselves.  We know what to do.  We have that teacher instinct of what the right thing is.  We just need to do it.  Day after day.  Week after week.  All of our “okay” will be our greatness.  It proves our awesomeness.

You really are awesome!  Your gut is usually right.  Trust it.  Take daily steps of faith.  Your “okay” is more than just okay.  You’ve got this.  You are making a difference!  Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher