Posted in Challenge, Reflection, Teacher

Closing Time…(you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here)

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Dear Teacher,

Today is my last day of the school year.  It is a teacher work day.  It is the day that I close the door on the school year.  I can call this one done and look forward to the next.

Part of me wants to say it is bittersweet, but it isn’t.  It is just sweet.  This has been a good year.  As a matter of fact, I can honestly say it has been the best since I have started this crazy teacher ride several years ago.  I choose to look back and only see the positives.   I can not let the stumbles and falls this year get me down.  I need to learn from them and keep running!

As a matter of fact, this new positive attitude is one of the reasons that this has been such a great year.  I have learned some vital things throughout the year that I think are necessary to be a teacher for the long haul…and that is what I intend to be.  I am sure you have heard these before, but so did I.  I think they just have to sink in.  Here is another chance for you to see them…maybe they sunk in for you this year like they did for me.

The Stuff I Learned That I Should Have Known:

  • It is not a sign of weakness to choose to be positive.
  • Staying positive can be a catalyst to changing the environment among students in my classroom…they learn by watching me…and THEY ARE WATCHING!
  • Everyone needs encouragement, especially teachers, and even if I am not getting encouragement I can always give it!
  • Say thank you more often…a thank you can change someone’s day, week, year, or even life!
  • Never give up doing what is right for others, I never know how far my impact will go.
  • I need to be the hope that others do not have…my hope can spread to others that then spreads to others…and so on…and so on.
  • No matter what happens today or happened yesterday, the next day (or next minute) is a new chance to start fresh.
  • Building relationships with students and fellow teachers is non-negotiable…I can not reach students without having a relationship with them, and I can not do this alone…I need other teachers!
  • Students can and need to be challenged…and they will rise to my expectations if I let them!

I will probably think of a thousand more things once I click publish, but this is probably enough!  Today, as I go in to shut the classroom down for the summer, I need to remember a couple of things.  I need to look at the year and choose to celebrate it.  I need to see the difference I made and be proud of myself.  However, I can not get comfortable.  I can not stay in the past.  I do not quite have to move on yet…I have the summer for that…but I do need to take stock of what went well and figure out how I am going to move on and move further using the lessons that I learned.

If you are at the end of the year, I hope that you are able to pack up what you have learned and then unpack it to use it to move even further next year!  The year is over and it is closing time.  You don’t have to stop being nostalgic (and “go home”), but you can’t stay in the memories.  Use them to make you even awesomer next year!

You are awesome!  I hope your day and weekend are wonderful!  You have done a great job this year!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

For more hope and encouragement: @DearTeacherLT (Twitter) and Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Facebook Page.

Posted in Reflection

Reflections and Refractions

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You may use this picture if you link back to this blog.

Dear Teacher,

I know that some of you are done with school for this school year, some are drawing this year to an end, and my Southern Hemisphere friends are just beginning.  I am in that middle group.  Today I start the last week of the school year, so you will have to forgive me if I seem a little nostalgic this morning!

As I was thinking back on the year and the start of this last week of it, I see a lot of growth and change.  Growth and change in my student, which I hope is always a given, but also growth and change in me.  I think this year has marked my greatest leaps as a teacher, and I have been doing this a little while.  I do not know why this year was my “jump forward” year, but I do believe it has been.  I feel like a veteran teacher now, and it is more than the number beside years teaching.  I feel like I understand more about what it takes to connect to and reach students, but also to connect to and reach my fellow teachers.  I realize how important that is now.

While I pondered on all of this, the idea of the behaviors of light came to mind.  The word reflection spurred this jump between trains of thought.  Reflection, as you probably know, is the bouncing of light waves off of the surface of an object.  That is similar to when we reflect on the year as a teacher, we are letting our experiences “bounce” off the surface of the school year and come back to us to think about.  We let the “energy” of the year come back to us, good or bad.

This led me to thinking about looking back in another way, through another behavior of light: refraction.  Refraction is the bending of light as it passes from one medium/material to another.  Refraction is why lenses make things look bigger or smaller.  Refraction is what makes images larger or smaller.  Either way, after refraction, an image is not the same.  Maybe this is a better way to think about end-of-year reflections as a teacher, they are really more of a refraction than a reflection.

When you look back, what you remember is either magnified or diminished.  We see the failures as bigger than they should be, though sometimes they look smaller than they should to us.  We sometimes shrink the successes in light of the “bad stuff,” sometimes they hide the fall-backs from us altogether.  Any way you slice it, or memories are not quite a true reflection.  They are not the original image.

This can be a good or bad thing.  It is bad if we are not honest and letting our experience over the last year be what it really was.  We need an honest look at where we triumphed and where we were defeated.  We need to look closely at what we did well and what we did not do well.  We need to build on the success and find the trail that led to the not-so-successful parts of the year so we can avoid that path from now on.  We need to learn what we can from an honest look at ourselves and move on to bigger and better things!

Refraction of the year CAN be a good thing, though.  We do need to pump up and celebrate what went well.  We need to find achievement somewhere in each student and magnify.  We need to tell them and let them see it, even if it is microscopic.  We need to see it for ourselves, even if it is distant and you need a telescope.  We need to know where we made a difference so that we can gain excitement from that and make bigger strides next year!

Where are you in this?  Are you reflecting or refracting?  Don’t forget to do both!

You are SO awesome, Teacher!  I know that you will look back at this year so that you can make next year even better!  Keeping on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

For more hope and encouragement: @DearTeacherLT (Twitter) and Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Facebook Page.

Posted in Cheer Up, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers

The End is Near

Dear Teacher,

I know your job is hard, but you are almost at the end. Don’t give up! But don’t just power through. Savor these last weeks of the year with your students! You have precious time left with your kids. Minutes count down. The grains of sand in the hour glass are slipping down. Your time to influence, inspire, and initiate lifelong curiousity is fading away. Do not waste a second with your students! Let them know how much you care. Teach until the last milisecond. Work hard to give your children the spirit of learning that will follow them long after your time with them is done. Summer is just around the corner. Pour your life out for your kids. You have time to fill back up!

You are awesome and you are supported. Keep teaching, teacher!

Love, Teacher

For more hope and encouragement: @DearTeacherLT