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 Challenge, General Inspiration, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance

What is the point?

Dear Teacher,

I know, the title sounds a bit negative, but this is far from a negative message.  It is a question we teachers need to think about every day before every class or lesson taught in a day.  We need to ask ourselves this question because our students are going to come in with this question.  What is the point?

I find that my best teaching days do not revolve around activities planned.  They do not hinge on the minutia of my lesson plans.  They do not even focus on the details of my standards that I hope to address.  No, they have nothing to do with these things (though they help).

My best days hang on having a goal.  They have a “point,” so to speak.  Great teaching days come when I have a concept or idea (based on my standards) that I focus on in the lessons and activities.  I hang my hat on these things.  If the lesson goes another way than I planned, I roll with it.  If my students come in with too much energy to do what I hoped to do, I adjust.  I adjust to them and in a way that still focuses on my goal.

This, I believe, is one of the keys to being a great teacher.

You need to know what the “point” of the day needs to be.  Then, no matter what the day brings, you move hell and high water to meet that goal.  Have back up activities in mind.  Know some good real world examples that you can bring up.  Have some challenge problems you can have the students work through.  Know your materials.  Know your content.  Know your stuff.  Change an old activity to make it fit in the moment.  Roll with the punches.  Be flexible.  And beyond all else, make your “point” your goal and do not sweat the small stuff that got in the way of your plans.

Make your goal, your point, happen, no matter what!

I share this today because I need to hear this.  I have A LOT of things planned for my students.  I am a science teacher, so there are a lot of details for me to work out with activities.  However, I can not let these activities make or break my day.  I need to focus on what I want them to get (the relationship between electricity and magnetism that causes electromagnets in my case).  No matter what, I need my students to understand this one thing.

  • If I have to adjust my plans, so be it.
  • If I have to do demos instead of hands-on for a class, it is not a big deal.
  • If the lesson takes a turn I do not expect, I can roll with it.

I have one goal in mind.  I know what they need to understand, and this is what will make my lessons.  I do not have to stress over things not working out the way I planned.  I just need to get to my “point.”

I can do this.  You can do this.  We can do this!

So what is your point today?  What is the one thing you need your students to get by the end of your lesson?  How will you roll with the punches?  How will you get to the point?

You are awesome!  You’ve got this!  This is your day.  You will get to the point, I know it.  You are amazing.  You are making a difference!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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

Almost There…

(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,

You are almost there!  You have almost made it!  Holiday break is just around the corner.  You can almost count the minutes!

You have worked so hard to keep students engaged.  You have poured your heart out.  You have put in the hours and the energy to capture their hearts and minds.  You have tried to make this time before break both educational and memorable.  And you have done it.  You have knocked it out of the park!

It may not have been perfect, you you have done well, my friend.  Great job!  Amazing!  You are such a great teacher!

The students may not always appreciate the work you do now, but you are making a difference.  You are doing so well.  Every minute may not be awesome, but your awesome never stops.  Nice job.  You have done what you do so well.  You are so awesome!

Thank you for all that you do.  Thank you for working so hard.  Thank you for caring so much.  Thank you for being you.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!

I hope you have the best holiday break ever!  Take it easy.  Take a break.  Rest.  Relax.  Get charged up for the rest of the year!

You are so awesome!  You are so amazing!  Your students need you and you are making a difference in their lives.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Have a great break, you have earned it and deserve it!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic

The Gift of 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)

Dear Teacher,

You have today.  That is it.  Nothing else.  Only today.

Yesterday is no longer here.  Good or bad, it is gone.  Celebrate it.  Cry over it.  Do what you need to do, but it is over.  Done.  Completed.

Tomorrow is just that, it is tomorrow.  It is not here yet.  The worries of tomorrow are always a day away.  The promises of tomorrow are just out of reach.  It is the future.  Not yet.  Not here.  Not now.

You have today.

You have here.

You have now.

It is so easy to be wrapped up in what has happened (yesterday) or what will happen (tomorrow) that we forget that we have the here and now.  We have today.  

At any second, we can look around and take stock of what we have and make the best of it.  Really, all we can control is what we are experiencing in the moment.  Think about it.  That is all we can do.  Act in the here.  Act in the now.  Act today.

We can use the experiences of yesterday.  We can learn from mistakes and successes.  We can use what we have gained and accomplished.  We can withdraw from the bank of yesterday, but we cannot go back and make deposits.  We can’t be stuck in yesterday.  We have to use yesterday to make today better.

Now, we can make deposits in the bank of tomorrow.  That is certain.  We can make choices today that make tomorrow’s today better.  Don’t get me wrong.  We do need to think about that.  But it cannot be all that we do.  Tomorrow never really gets here.  We have to remember to live in today.  Today is where we always are.  

 Today is it.

Today is a gift.  It is what we have to give to the world.  It is where we live our life and strive to make a difference.  It is the now that lets us make tomorrow’s todays better and better.

It is a gift.  However, it is only what you make of it.  Will you make it something that you remember and can withdraw from in future todays?  Or will you make it a weight that weighs you down?  What it is up to you.  It is all in how you use it.  Your attitude determines so much of what today will be.  How are you thinking about today?

Today is all you have.

What are you going to do today?  What are you going to make of today?  How will you change the way you look at today?  How will you make today count?  How will you make today be something you remember tomorrow and lets you be stronger in the next today?

How will you use today to change your students’ tomorrows?

How will you teach them to use today?

How will you model today?

Today is our gift.

Let’s give our today to the world.  Let’s make it count.  Let’s use it to change ourselves, our students, and our world.  Let’s make today about making other people’s todays better.  

Are you with me?

I know I am thankful for today.  Today is mine.  I want it to count.  Will you join me in making today great?

You are awesome!  You make every today count.  I am so proud of you for that!  You are so amazing!  I believe in you.  You are making a difference.  Keep on living today and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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

What You Are Not…

(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 have written to you a lot about what you are as a teacher.  You are a world-changer.  You are a superhero.  You are a live-saver.  You are a future-molder…

You are tired.  You are stressed.  You are over-worked.  You are overwhelmed.  You are beat-up.  You are burned out.

You are a teacher.

Today I want to do something a little different.  I want to mention something that you are not.  It is something that you need to hear and be reminded of each and every day.

You, Teacher, are not alone. 

Since last Friday, I have received more feedback than I ever gotten about the blog.  Goodness No!, Be The Shark, and Superheroes and Alter-Egos have really resounded with teachers.  There have been so many messages of “thanks” and “I needed to hear that.”  The common theme seems to be that what I am saying is what you all are going through.

The funny part is that with all three of these posts, I truly was writing to myself.  I was speaking to what I am feeling and going through.  I was trying to remind myself to remember why I do what I do in all of the busyness and stress of teaching.  I was talking to me and letting you listen in.

Teachers from all over the world have said, “That is me, too.  I am going through those things.  I am having those thoughts.  That is how I feel.  Thank you for the reminders of why I teach and what is important!”

You know what this means?

We are not alone.

No matter how you feel at your school, in your grade level, in your subject area, or whatever your teaching situation, you are not on your own.  What you are going through is common.  What you are feeling is not odd.  You don’t have to feel lonely as a teacher because the teachers around you aren’t feeling the same way.  Other teachers ARE going through what you are going through.  The teachers you work with probably are, too, they are just hiding it well.

You are not alone.

Do not be ashamed of feeling tired and overwhelmed.  Don’t be embarrassed by the burnout.  Don’t feel bad when you mess up, lose your cool, or just want to give up.  You are not the only one.  You can get through it.  You can get past it.  You can get back to who you are and why you love to teach.

We know what you feel like because we feel it to…you are not alone because the whole world of teachers is with you.

Feel like giving up?  You are not alone.

Burned out?  Beat up?  Beat down?  You are not alone.

Stressed?  Overwhelmed?  Exhausted?  You are not alone.

Feeling isolated and lonely in what you are experiencing in teacherhood?  You most definitely are not isolated and alone…we are right there with you.

Feel like you are the only one who feels the way you do?  You aren’t.  You are not alone.

Have I said it enough?  You are not alone.

“So what?  I am not alone.  I get it.  Now what?”

Knowing you are not alone is a great place to start.  It reminds you that other people have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience what you are experiencing.  This thought alone gives you hope.  Hope leads to perseverance.  Perseverance keeps you going.  Going and pushing on lets you get through what you are going through.  Getting through gives you perspective and helps you keep going next time you get on this cycle.  AND…all of this helps you to remember why you teach and keeps you on that teaching path…no matter what the world and life and teaching throws at you.

So…know you are not alone and let this give you hope.

You can make it.  You can get through.  You can push on.  You can.  You can.  You can.  You can because you are not alone!

(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 will keep going.  You are making a difference and you will keep making a difference.  You are amazing and YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  Remember this and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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

The Long, Hard Road

(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,

Two words: Keep going!

It is Wednesday.  Keep going.

You are feeling burned out.  Keep going.

You don’t feel supported.  Keep going.

You are lost in your content.  Keep going.

You have too much to do.  Keep going.

You have some difficult students.  Keep going.

You have things going on at home.  Keep going.

You have issues at your school.  Keep going.

You are not getting along with coworkers.  Keep going.

You are tired.  Keep going.

You are beat up.  Keep going.

You are hurt.  Keep going.

You are emotionally spent.  Keep going.

You are out of ideas.  Keep going.

You have too many students to get to each one every day.  Keep going.

You want to give up.  Keep going.

Keep going.

Keep going.

Keep going.

Your students are so close to breakthroughs.  Keep going!

Your students look to you as their only hope in the day.  Keep going!

Your students need your consistency.  Keep going!

Your students are learning to learn on their own.  Keep going!

Your students are having more and more “aha” moments every day.  Keep going!

Your students are figure things out.  Keep going!

Your students are learning.  Keep going!

You are who they need and need you to be.  Keep going!

Keep going!

Keep going!

Keep going!

The road is long.  The road is hard.  Keep going.

There are thorns.  There are rocks.  There are hills.  There are mountains.  Keep going.

The end is far and your strength is almost gone.  Keep going.

You will make it.  You can get there.  Keep going!

Teacher, don’t give up.

Keep going!

You are awesome.  You can do this.  Don’t stop.  Don’t give up.  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and keep going!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Get Psyched!, Pep Talk, Perseverance

The Attitude of Edison

(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,

Don’t give up.  That is basically all that I want to tell you this morning.  Just don’t give up.  Don’t stop.

I know that the weight of teaching is heavy.  We push and push, but the push back is often more intense.

We can see what our students need more than they can.  You know your students.  You know how close they are to understand what you are teaching them.  You know how close they are to becoming more complete self-learners.

But the resistance makes it hard to keep moving.

You are beat up.  You are tired.  You are exhausted.  You have very little left to give.

It would be easier to drop back and punt…you can try again another day.

Don’t stop.  Don’t give in.  Don’t move back.  Keep pushing.  Keep going!

You don’t see it from where you are, but you are so very close to success with your students.  You see how close they are, but guess what?  You are SO CLOSE to getting them there.  I know it is hard, but don’t stop!

Find your reserves.  You have some hidden energy and strength left.  Find it.  Use it.  You are seriously almost there.  Just give a little more.  You can do this.  I know you can because you are awesome!

Two of my favorite quotes of all time are from Thomas Edison:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

You are on the verge of success.  A miracle is on the horizon.  Chase it.  Go for it.  You are almost there!  Push on.  Further on and further in.  You’ve got this, you amazing Teacher, you!

Take on the the attitude of Edison today.  Don’t give up.  Don’t let apparent failures stop you.  Failure never means you can’t do something, it just means you need to keep trying and find some new ways.

You don’t have to stop.  You have this.  You are close.  Keep going and keep moving forward!

Your students will watch you, they will learn to do the same thing.  They won’t give up and snatch defeat from the jaws of looming victory.  They will keep trying until they get it…just like they saw you do.

Don’t give up!

You are an amazingly awesome teacher!  You have what it takes.  You have the strength and fortitude.  Prove it today!  You will see success, so keep pushing on and keep on teaching, Teacher!

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 (or Growth Mindset ABC’s) 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.

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.

Posted in Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Reflection

Happy and Not-So-Happy Endings

Dear Teacher,

Well, my hiatus was cut a little short because of a short summer school teaching opportunity that has come up.  Because I am ending my teaching sabbatical early, I have decided to go ahead and come back to the blog, too.  It is good to be back.  I hope that you did not miss me too much.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the posts of my Substitute Teachers.  I thought each post was insightful, challenging, and full of hope.  I hope that you feel the same!

Today’s message is about endings.  Endings are what I am thinking about as my little vacation comes to a close.  Endings are inevitable.  They will come no matter what…and it can be a challenge or a hope to keep that in mind.

When things are going well, an ending does not seem like a good thing.  The end of a break.  The end of a vacation.  Or just the end of a great year with your students.  Good things do not last forever and it is sad to see them go.  These kind of endings do not have to be bad, though.  There is a ways to view them as a positive, and this is where the challenge comes in.

  •  Keep the end in mind to help you savor every wonderful moment…take it in and enjoy every fleeting second.
  • Memories of good times that have ended give you something to hang on to when things get rough…build those memories well when things are good!
  • Good times have to end sometime…remember this…we grow more and learn more during difficulties.  What kind of teacher would you be if things only went well?

The flip-side of endings are the endings of not-so-good times.  When things are not quite as awesome, and the “going get rough,” endings are the light at the end of the tunnel.  Knowing that there is an ending gives you the opportunity and ability to have some hope.  The following are a few thoughts for you if you are going through one of those phases right now.

  •  Nothing lasts forever, especially the hard times, so don’t give up!
  • You are growing and becoming a better teacher right now, don’t lose sight of that.
  • I know it is Kelly Clarkson cliché, but what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger…when you come out on the other side you will be stronger and better for it.
  • The light at the end of that tunnel is getting larger every day. Hold on to hope.  You will make it through!
(c)DearTeacherLT (You may use this picture if you link back to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT (You may use this picture if you link back to this blog.)

What is your impending ending right now?

Are you in a good time that will soon be over?  Savor it.  Take it all in.  Enjoy it and make memories.  You will need those memories eventually!

Are you in a down time right now?  Does everything seem to be going up in flames around you?  The end is near!  It will not last forever!  Find those “good times” memories, hang on to them, and hold on tight for the arrival of that light at the end of the tunnel!

Teacher, you are amazing.  You are awesome!  You are believed in and you are getting stronger every day!  You are changing lives and making a difference!

Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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