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 Challenge, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

Tugging on the Common Thread


Dear Teacher,

So…this week I have been a part of writing curriculum for my district.  It has been fun.  Yes, I am a nerd.  However, more than fun it has been a challenge and quite enlightening.

We all come from different states (and possibly countries), and every area has their own set of standards and fight with or against new standards.  I don’t know how it is where you are, but the state I am from is in constant flux.

One thing is clear: nothing is clear.

We are “for” things one minute.  We are “against” things the next minute.  We have a plan for testing in one breath.  No clear plan in the next one.

I have been in education long enough to see that the only thing you can count on is change.  The change can last a while or be quick, but you can always know that things will change sooner or later.

There will be buzz words.  There will be “current” research.  There will be best practices.  There will be education trends and fads.

There will be change.

There will be unclear goals.

There will be a test at the end.

This is clearly the only clarity we get as teachers.

And that is okay.  I think.

Yes.  It is okay.  I know it.

You know why I know it?  Because there are teachers who teach well NO MATTER WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND THEM.

True.  It is not every teacher.  However, we all know at least one or two of them that are spectacular no matter what the trends and legislation going on.  They are consistent.  They are constant.  They are uncanny.

They are the great teachers.

What makes them great?

They found the common thread of teaching before it got cored.  They focus on what is always, not what is now.  The set their eyes on one goal.  Students.  Students and what it takes to help them grow.

Simple.

Students.

Growth.

Period.

Will the latest research and methods help them do this?  Of course.  Are these teachers life-long educational learners?  You bet.  Do they keep up with new ideas and strategies?  Most certainly.  Do they change and move from one generation to the next that comes through their classroom?  Yes, yes, and yes!

One thing remains the same throughout the change for them.  The students.

This is how you keep your sanity.  This is how you stay a great teacher.  This is how you stay the course even when the waters are choppy.  You keep your eyes on the point of teaching…students, growth, and creating learners.

Can you do this if your state is Common Core?  Yes.  Can you do this if your state rejects the common?  Yes.  Can you do this if the test changes every year?  Yes.  Can you do this no matter what?  YES YOU CAN!

Wonka

So what does focusing on students mean to you?  How can you make this your goal despite the ebb and flow of current educational mandates in your area?  What changes can you make to be more and more consistent in this focus?

You are awesome, and I know that you already have this focus!  You will grow every year in make student growth your goal.  Think more about this as the school year looms ever closer!  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and keep on focusing on what is most important!

You can do it!

Love, Teacher

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

Goodness No!!


Dear Teacher,

Today I want to talk about Pete the Cat (a character in children’s books).

I teach sixth grade, and I know how this post will look to those who teach middle and high school.  Just bare with me, though!  I think the message is a good one.  Please keep reading!  🙂

I have a four, almost five, year-old son.  He is in 4k.  I have been opened up to a whole new world.  A world filled with play-learn stations, camp songs, and kids’ books.  It has been a fun experience.  I never thought it would be life changing.

Last week, I overheard my son being read to by his Nana.  I wasn’t really paying attention until my son blurts out, “GOODNESS NO!”  The way he said it cracked me up, so I listened in.  It turned out to be a great little lesson for me, as a teacher (or human, for that matter).  I read, reread, and read this book to my son since this, and we are often found saying, “Goodness no!” to each other throughout the day.

I thought it would be a great story to share, especially on Friday when most of us reflect on the week.  Give a watch and listen, and the read on.

Did Pete cry?  Goodness no!

I love that!  I really do!

Okay, now that the story is over, what does this have to do with teaching?

We so very often get wrapped up in the “stuff” of teaching.  Our lesson plans.  Our classroom management.  Our pacing.  Our observations.  Our teammate.  Our administrators.  Our classroom materials.  Our pride in teaching.  Our students’ test results.  Our _______________…you fill in the rest.

When we get wrapped up in all of this and something goes wrong, it is so easy to fall into a “freak out” cycle.  We may not cry, but our blood pressure rises.  Our stress headaches start.  Our patience flat-lines.  We start to drop other things that matter because we lost something that has had an elevated priority for us.  We slowly spiral out of control.

We can regain composure and get moving again.  But then when something else goes awry, the cycle starts again.  An easier way to say what the cycle is to say that we “cry.”  Even if there is no tears.

This is, unfortunately, the norm for teachers.  Talk to anyone for a while and you will see that we all have our “buttons” that make us “cry” when we lose them.  We all have things that have become our focus that are important, don’t get me wrong, but still they are misplaced priorities.  We have let ourselves lose focus (which is sounding like a theme for me here the  last couple of weeks).

There are some teachers, though, that are more like Pete the Cat.  Even-keeled.  Stuff does not seem to bother them.  AND they are reaching and teaching students like a champ.

What is their secret?

Do they “cry” when they lose their “buttons?”

GOODNESS NO!

They know that the classroom “stuff” will come and it will go.

They keep on singing their song.

And what is their song about?

Their students.

I have said this a lot lately, but no matter how many times it is said it is never less true.  Students are our goal.  Who they are and what they need.  This determines everything for us.  They are who we are there for.  They are more than “buttons.”  They are the reason for teaching.

So, do we need to cry?

Goodness no!

The other stuff will come and it will go.

The students are our song and we can keep on singing no matter what.

Simplistic?  Easier said than lived out?  Works on paper and hard in reality?  Probably so.  That does not mean it is not true.  That does not mean it is not possible.

You can be “Pete the Cat.”

Keep on singing!

As you look back on the week, what buttons were lost?  Do they matter in the grand scheme of things?  Are you able to keep singing your student song?

You are awesome.  You are Pete the Cat.  Let those buttons go.  They will come and they will go.  Keep on singing, Teacher, and keep on teaching!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Pep Talk

One Thing


Dear Teacher,

As I talked about yesterday, we have so much to do, think, and and be throughout our each day.  I am feeling the weight of the pull of the thousand things that are tugging at me today.

I am trying to take my own advice and try to make sure that my focus is on the students and what they need.  The hard part is deciding what those things are!  Even if I move my focus to students and their needs, there are still so many things to choose from.  Picking a direction and running at it is important, but knowing which direction is best each day can be a challenge.

The idea of just finding “one thing” comes to mind.  One thing, one focus, one direction is all that we need.  We just have to make a decision.  How do you do that?

Reflect.

Where did you get to yesterday in your content?  What do your students seem to be lacking from prior content?  What are the learning/thinking skills that they need most?  What strategies are they responding to the most?

Get all of this into your mind.  What is the one thing that stands out the most?  What is the biggest student need across the board?  What is the one area that needs to most work or most support?

That is your “one thing,”

Make this deficit area, thinking/processing sill, or content topic your goal and focus today.  Make everything else revolve around it.  Let the noise of all of the other thousand things be in the background as you work through this one thing that students need most.

Will you have to answer to why you made this choice?  Sure.  Might it cause conflict?  Yes.  But no matter what you choose to focus on will cause other things to fall to the wayside and cause the same kind of drama.  You just have to make sure the thing you choose is student-focused.  That is all that really matters.

Remember, when you are asked, “Why are you doing _______________?”  Your answer better have “students” at its core!

Students are our goal and focus.  Don’t be afraid to make a stand for them.  It will all come out in the end.  Students and their needs…their one thing each day…will never disappoint or let you down.  The short-run may hold conflict, but that conflict won’t outlast the joy of students learning and learning how to learn in your classroom.  That trumps all and will win the day in the end!

(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 amazing!  I know you know how to make “one thing” choices…don’t be afraid to!  I have your back and so do all of the other teachers out there.  Student learning is never a bad focus.  Stand firm and take a stand today with it!  Never fear it!  Keep on finding those “one things” and teach on, Teachers!

Love, Teacher