Hello From the Other Side (of the school year)


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,

It is almost the end of the year…I think it calls for a special post.  Theme song post time!

I have actually been thinking about this one for a while.  The song is “Hello” by Adele.  The song is great, but lately I have started to think about my teaching life and the different versions of my teacher self throughout the school year.

What if I could call and talk to myself at the beginning of the year?  What would I say?  What would I hold back?  Would I advise?  Would I apologize?  I don’t know…but I am going to give it a shot here.  Please “listen in” on my conversation with myself and think about what you might say to yourself.

Oh, and I realize that this is a just a  cover of the original song, but I really like this version…so click play  and then read on.

Hello.

It’s me.

We need to talk.

First of all, I would just like to say, you are so awesome!  Your ideas and energy.  It is why I teach.  You know that you are going to make a difference this year, and I love you for this.  Don’t lose that.  Never lose that.

However…

Hello from the other side.

This is going to be a rough year.  You are going to face trials and troubles like you have never seen.  You are going to have your teaching heart broken.  You are going to want to quit.

You will really consider it.

I wish I would have gotten in touch with you sooner.

I have needed your spark and light.

There are going to be times that the spark is going to almost be extinguished and that light is going to dim.

I am sorry to tell you, but you are barely going to make it through the year alive (as a teacher).

I have barely made it.

I am barely here.

Your full-on sprint at the beginning of the year is going to taper down to where I am right now.  I am crawling to the finish line.  And I can barely breathe.  I am barely teacher living.

I am sorry for what I have done to you.

I really am.

But..

Hello from the other side.

Let me just assure of one undeniable truth.  From where I am right now, it was worth it.

I can see where our students have come from and how far they’ve come.  We have made a difference.  We have changed lives.  We have done everything that your optimistic heart hoped and dreamed for this year.  We’ve done it!

You will be completely drained, beat-up, and exhausted, but you have affected the lives of your students for forever.  Amazing things have happened in our classroom this year.  There has been magic.  There has been wonder.

Do not give up the fight.

Keep going.

Keep running.

Keep fighting.

It will all be worth it in the end!

Hello from the other side…

Thanks for reading my little message to myself.  Did you see yourself in this?  Could you have the same conversation with your beginning-of-the-year-you?

You know, no matter what happened this year, beautiful things happened in that classroom of yours.  Magic and life change did occur.  Everything you went through was worth it for the sake of your students.  To help remind you of this, I want to close this note to you with a few more teachers stories of classroom beauty and magic that happened this year.  And if you would like to share a story of wonder from your classroom, you can do so here.

Teacher Michelle – Kindergarten

I work hard on creating a family out of my class of kindergarteners. They come from very low income homes and have very rough lives. In my classroom we work hard on creating relationships and bonding.It can get really hard, but the rewards are worth it.

Recently a child in my class won a ticket to Six Flags for being the only one who completed the required minutes of reading and turned the paper in. when i announced it to my class, i honestly expected to hear a lot of whining and “why didnt I get one!?” But INSTEAD… when i made the announcement my ENTIRE CLASS began applauding and shouting out “good job!” and “good for you!”

That was the day I knew we were a family.

Teacher Joanne – High School (Retired)

I retired from full time teaching and now work as an office manager for a national tax preparation company.
During the season, I was assisting a client who was accompanied by one of my former students, a friend of hers. She asked him if he had done his taxes yet, and he said, “Oh yes, Ms. Maura taught us all about it in finance class.” I wanted to hug him, but I said, “Thank God someone was paying attention that day!” I won’t also mention all of the greetings I get in the community (I live in the city where I taught for 20+ years).

Teacher Alice – High School

My first year of teaching was a challenging experience, as it is for many teachers. I was teaching 6-7 periods a day, and my classes were mutli-leveled ESL classes. In one class, I had everything from a level one (absolute beginner) to 5 (advanced, ready to transition to mainstream) in the same class. I struggled mightily.

At the end of the year, I assigned the students to write a thank you letter to someone in the building that had made a difference for them during the year. One sweet, upper level student, who had been an immense help to me in that challenging class, placed her note on my desk at the end of the class and told me to open it. The text of the note read, “thank you, thank you, thank you! One thank you for all you taught me this year, one thank you for being there for me, and one thank you for how you change my life. Always remember this, Miss: stars need darkness to shine. I may not know how to write a letter, but I know there is not a wrong way to say thank you.” I sat at my desk and bawled.

Teacher, you are making a difference and have done amazing work this year!  You are so awesome!  Please know that everything you went through this year was worth.  You have had a greater effect than you will ever know.  Thanks for all that you do!  Hold on…the year is almost over!  Keep on doing the incredible things you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Dear Teacher/Love Teacher is looking for a little help.  Check this out for more information.  Thanks!

 

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Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes


Dear Teacher,

I know that is has been a long time since I have written to you.  It has been quite a school year, and I am entering a time of transition.  Before I get to that, let’s talk about this past year.

How did it turn out for you?  How did everything go?  If you are reading this, you made it out alive, so that is something.  🙂

Image: http://www.firstgradenest.com/

It was quite a year for me.  There is not one word to describe it.  It was challenging.  It was trying.  It was stressful.  It was enlightening.  It was strange.  It was insightful.  It was life-changing.  It was.  It just was.

I don’t know that I had a more difficult year with students.  It wasn’t their behavior so much as it was their attitude towards learning.  In a time when the stakes could not be higher for students to show growth, it seemed like my students were the least interested in growing.  Was it like that for you this year?

That made teaching rough.  I believe in students having the responsibility of learning and turning that responsibility over to them throughout the year.  So many did not want to take those reigns from me.  My classroom was student-centered, but I found that I wound up in the center so many times just to get through content.

I learned a lot about motivating students and a lot about motivating myself.  How do I keep going with the idea of being brain-centered and student-centered when it seems like I am gaining so little ground.  I learned to keep my head down and keep going down the road and trusting what I know is right for my students…but it was hard.  Very hard.  That is one of the reasons that I wrote so little to you this year.

But I made it.

You made it.

We made it!

I want to encourage you, Teacher.  If it was a hard year for you, as it was for me, there is hope.  You can do anything for a year and then you can look forward to the next.  You know what is right for your students, even if they do not.  Take some time and reflect this summer.  What went right?  What went wrong?  Where do you need to dig in and keep going?  What are some things you can let go of next year?

Keep on keeping on.  Do what you know is right.  Take a stand for what needs to be stood up for.  Be the awesome teacher that you are.

Not every year will go well.  Sometimes there will be a string of bad years.  Sometimes your working environment will be challenging.  Sometimes you will want to pack it in.

Remember one thing, though.

Your students need you.  They really do.

If you keep doing what is right, day after day and year after year, things will eventually go right for you in ways that you know you are going in the right direction.  Trust me.

wpid-storagesdcard0MemesAwesome-High-School-Teacher.jpg.jpg

A little about my life and transitions…

After nine years of trying to be the best teacher that can be at a Title I school and having strings of difficult years, there has been a change.  My hard work was noticed.  I was hired to work at my district’s science center.  I will be moving out of the traditional classroom and be teaching students from all over my district and my area throughout the year.

It was difficult to pack up and leave my school for good after being there for so long…there were some tears…but I know that this is right.  I am going to love every minute of my new job and I will be able to help more students fall in love with learning and help other teachers learn new ways to foster that love in students, too.

That being said, that leaves this blog in a state of flux.  I need a little feedback here.

Since I will no longer be in the normal classroom, will you still accept my encouragement and advice here?  How can I stay current with the struggles that you have in your classroom?  How can I change the format of the blog to help you stay encouraged?

One thing I know that I can do is offer for you to email and let me know of a struggle in the classroom you are having.  I can write directly to what you are going through here (keeping out any personal information).  Would that be a helpful aspect to this blog?  (My email is dearteacher@outlook.com.)

Let me know any ideas that you have!  Thanks!

Teacher, take some time for yourself this summer.  Find ways to recharge and heal from the year.  Don’t spend too much time getting ready for the next round.  Just be for a while.  Just be.

Image: http://www.teachjunkie.com

You are so awesome!  I know that next year will be even better than this one was!  Keep on doing what is right and keep on teaching, teacher!

Love, Teacher

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

The Speed of Change…One by One


Dear Teacher,

Okay, I found some time to write a post.  I like writing posts more than just doing a picture message like the one I did this morning…though they are fun to do.  I did not think I would find the time to write, but I finally did.  And I found some really cool inspiration that goes right along with my theme this week!  We, you and I, need to change the world.  Teachers can do it.  We need to!

I was reading through some blogs this afternoon, and I came across this message of connecting with students.  It was so perfect.  This teacher’s message went hand-in-hand with my challenge from last Friday.  I gave us all the challenge, myself included here, to change the world by changing our own world, changing students’ worlds, changing other teachers’ worlds, and changing the worlds of those around us, outside of schools.  (How have you been doing with this, by the way?)  The blog post I read today hit one of these nails right on the head.  To change the lives of students we have got to connect with them!

I know what you are thinking…”Duh!  Everyone knows that!”

We do…but do we really?  Really, really?  Really, really, really?

Our actions show what we truly know…or at least believe.

We might know that we need to connect to students, but if someone were to really judge us by our actions would they think that we really and truly believe that it is vital to connect with students?

Take that honest look in the mirror.  What is the answer to that question?  And I am not talking connecting with some students.  I mean trying to have a connection with every student you teach, at least on some teeny, tiny level?

Is that even possible?  To connect with every student?

I think so.  But it is hard work.  You have to be purposeful.  You have to try…every day.  Find a way to connect.  Find a way to build rapport.  Find a way to earn a voice.  Once you have that voice with a student, USE IT!

Talk to your students.  Tell them the truth.  Help them to know what they need to work on.  Tell them how smart they are.  Teach them how to use that smart.  Help them use it.  Help them build confidence until they act like they know they are smart and capable.

Change your students’ world:

  • Connect
  • Build a Bridge
  • Cross that Bridge
  • Change a Mind
  • Change a Life
  • Change the World
(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 can do it.  You can connect with every student.  You can be an agent of change.  You can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.  Know you can do this.  Act on that knowledge.  Start tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this).

Challenge for Today (whenever you read this): Make a purposeful connection with three students today.  You can do it!  Will you?

You are so amazing!  You are so awesome!  Do it…change the world by changing your students’s world.  The speed of change is slow because it is done one person at a time.  Start making those changes now!  You can do it!  Keep on teaching and changing the world, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Monday Morning Motivation: Here Comes the BOOM!


Dear Teacher,

For the last two Mondays, I have really striven to give you some motivation and get you pumped up for the week ahead.  I have been posting theme songs for you to play while you read, and this has been extremely popular and well-received.  I have loved doing this myself, and I the theme songs have stuck with me through the week.  So, I think I am going to stick with this new trend I started.  I have a week of training that I am excited about; it is training about poverty and brain research that I think is going to give a new edge to my teaching next year, and this song sums up how I feel about it.  Play the song before you read on.  It is an awesome song and a pretty funny video (you may want to watch it after you read, if you have never seen it before).  Also, it is the theme song for the movie, Here Comes the Boom, which is a movie that centers on a teacher that is committed to the needs of students (namely the Arts Program).

(Disclaimer–if you have never heard this song before, there is a lyric you may think is saying something that it is not…the line is “big S.D.” for San Diego…not what it sounds like the first time you hear it.)

Teacher, you are awesome.  This week is yours to own.  Don’t let this week happen to you, happen to this week!  Make a plan and stick to it.  Follow through.  Set a goal to accomplish something big, work at it, and accomplish that goal.  You can do it!  Tell this week that the BOOM is coming and you are the one bringing it!

No matter what you have ahead of you, you’ve got this.  You are amazing.  You can get through anything.  You can do anything.  You can achieve anything.  You can do anything and get through everything, if you set your mind to it.  Set your mind to it and do it!

For those of you teaching right now:

  • Get your plans together…make them happen.
  • When things get off plan, monitor and adjust like a champ.  You can make anything work.  Roll with the punches that come, and punch back with your skills, experience, and abilities.
  • Know where you want your students to be at the end of the week and get them there.  Use what ever you need to use to get them there.  You are awesome and know what to do.  Do it.
  • DO NOT let the little things get to you.  Stay calm, stay patient, and stay in charge.  You are a professional and you know what you are doing.  Rely on the fact the that little things do not mean much in the big picture.  Work around them and do not let them get you frustrated.
  • Love your students above all else.  Knowing and caring for your students is the most important thing you do.  Encourage them and tell them how much you care.  Tell them how awesome they are and why they are awesome.

For those of you on summer break:

  • Don’t let the summer get away from you.  Make a plan to accomplish something this week and then accomplish it.  It can be for school or otherwise, but do something this week.  Get something done.
  • Read one thing to help you do even better next year than the last.  Find a good article on teaching/education (Edutopia is a great source, my current favorite).  Read a book.  Find something.  Hone your craft this week, Teacher!
  • Come up with one new goal for next year.  Find a new place you want your students next year or a new strategy to try.  I gave a similar challenge yesterday.  It is so important to set new expectations for yourself to rise to higher heights and become an even better teacher!
  • Plan a lesson or unit for next year.  Don’t put it off.  Plan to do something for next year this week.  The more you do now, the better off you will be next year!
  • Make a plan for getting to know your students and other teachers next year and plan ways to spread encouragement and hope. I know a good place that you can find notes to print and write on!  🙂  Know how you will get to know people and spread the Encouragement Revolution next year!

You are so incredibly awesome!  This week is yours for the taking.  Take it!  Make it yours!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…While I am at a training this week, I need your help.  Please share this link in your Edmodo communities and groups, share on Facebook, share on Twitter, and where ever else you can!  Spread the encouragement because I can’t!  Thanks!  You are awesome!  🙂