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, 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 Pep Talk, Perseverance, Poster/Graphic, Theme Song

Standing Outside the Fire

(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,

Well, I am a day late, but it is still early in the week and I bet we could all use a theme song for it…especially those who had a day off yesterday.  So let’s get to it.  This song is going to be a “blast from the past” for a lot of us, but for some it may be the first time to hear this song.  Whether it is new to you or a reminder of more youthful days, this song is a great theme for teachers and one we should hear and think about.

Click play, get through the ad if there is one, and then read on.

Teacher, like it or not, we are heroes.  We fight battles, we run into danger, and we do the impossible.  If not literally, we all do this figuratively.  We take on the world of our students and help them through it and get them to the other side into adulthood and the future.

Not all teachers take this seriously.  Some teachers look at this as more as a job than a calling and desire.  They come in, survive the day, and put up with their students.  They tow the line.  They don’t step on toes.  They teach what and how they are told to teach.  They do little connect to students and see the student as the goal…the content is the goal and teaching it is success.

These teachers “stand outside the fire.”

That is not you, Teacher.

You dance within the flames.  You take what you do and what you are in stride and with confidence.  You know teaching is more than, well, teaching.  It is connecting.  It is getting to know your students.  It is understanding your students.  It is understanding the teaching and learning dynamic.  It is teaching skills outside of your subject area.  It is taking risks.  It is being bold.  It is being brave.  It is taking on the fight and being the hero that your students need you to be.

You are not content with the status quo.  You are not happy with just teaching your standards.  Your students need more.  You need more.

You are not afraid to step on toes when it comes to the needs of your students.  You know what they need, you know how they learn, you know what they are capable of and their potential.  You make choices for them, not for who is watching.

You get to know their families.  You help their parents and guardians know how to help them learn more at home.  You allow their family input on ways to help the student in the classroom.  You make it a team effort and don’t try to do it all on your own.

You look for help from the teachers around you.  You are not afraid to try new things in your classroom.  You look around and see what is working and not working and then seek out strategies from others for whom things are definitely workings.  You are not afraid to change.

You are also not afraid to reflect.  You take a look at students and what they seem to be learning and not learning, and then you make adjustments in you and how you are teaching.  You look at data.  You are not afraid of data.  You let data help you make instructional choices because it gives you a view of what your students need.

You are one of the great ones, Teacher!  You do not stand outside the fire.  You are in the thick of it.  You are dancing around with the flames jumping all around you, and you love every minute of it!  You are a hero.  You are a teacher.  Your students need you!

You are awesome and amazing.  Your “fire dance” is making a difference.  You are making a difference.  Keep on teaching and keep on running into the fire, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS …The poster/graphic this morning is one of a line of printable posters that I created and made available on the TeachersPayTeachers Store. They will be called “Motivational ABCs.”

Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk, You Are Awesome!!!

You Have What It Takes…to Innovate

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)

Dear Teacher,

I am an admitted NASAphile.  I have loved all things NASA for a very long time, and I even had a dream to go to Space Camp when I was younger.  That dream was fulfilled twice as an adult when I was able to attend Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy and Advanced Space Camp once I became a science teacher.  NASA, and space, in general was fueled by my love of science and technology.  NASA has been and will probably always be on the cutting edge of innovation, and I think that has a lot to do with my fascination.

As teachers, we are asked to be innovators.  To survive in the world of 21st Century education, we need to be at the pinnacle of current understanding of teaching and learning.  We need to engage our students.  We need to understand technology, at least in some form or at least know the technology our students are in to.  We need to be able to monitor and then adjust at the drop of the hat.  We need to be masters of our learning environment.  We need to manage our classrooms with grace and efficiency.  And we need to all of this, and more, in an ever-changing educational landscape.

I was inspired today by a post on Edutopia, called, “What You Need to be an Innovative Educator.”  It was about, as you can guess, innovation in teaching.  The surprising part of the article is that it was not about being the best with technology or the latest education trends.  It was more about you, as a teacher, than about what you do.  I highly recommend that you read the post on Edutopia, but I am going to use what it says to give us a quick little pep talk.  I need it right now as I am getting bogged down in some detailed planning of big ideas for next year.

You Have What It Takes to Innovate

It is not about the latest and the greatest things…technology and strategies.  That is not what your students need.  It is not about the resources you may or may not have, it isn’t even internet or worksheets.  Innovation is about you, Teacher.

It is about who you are and not so much what you do.  It is what is in your heart and mind, and your heart and mind have what it takes to innovate.

You know how to prioritize and find what is important.  You know it is more than the whats and the hows, it is about the process of figuring those out.  You are a human strainer that lets standards and indicators pass through, leaving only the enduring understandings.  You know how do do this, and it is in you, Teacher.

You also know that to teach well you have to be selfless.  No one had to tell you that this is bigger than you are.  You know that it is okay to ask for help and you always know when and how.  You are even brave enough to sometimes even consider to allow students in on your planning.

You know that time and energy are more important than money and permission.  Stuff is nice, but if you give things enough time you know that you can plan around the stuff.  Energy is hard to come by, but you know you need to give it and somehow you always find it.  Time and energy are the key and you always give these freely.

You are a teacher, and you have heard since the beginning that teachers beg, steal, or borrow.  You are not too proud or afraid to beg, steal, or borrow.  Sometimes you reinvent wheels, but this is few and far between.  You look to models to work from and put your own fingerprints on.

You are more than willing to stick your neck out for your students.  If you know that something could work beautifully but there is a chance it will blow up in your face, you take the chance for the sake of your students.  You can always backtrack, but if your plan works out you may help your students leap ahead.  You are willing to take the leap of faith to things you know will be best and you are not afraid.

Most of all your students trust you, and you trust your students.  They will follow you where you lead them, especially if they think you are leading them where they need to go.  You trust that what you think will work WILL, in fact, work and that your students can make it happen.  Trust goes both ways, and you have confidence in this trust with your students.

Innovation is hard, even harder without stuff, but it isn’t really about stuff.  The stuff will change.  How we are asked to teach will change.  Innovative teachers work within these changes, whatever they may be, and you have what it takes to be one of these innovative teachers.

So get out there an innovate!

(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)

I have no doubt that you are one of these innovative teachers!  You are awesome!  You work with in the medium you are given.  You strive to be the best you can be.  So get out there and be that “the best.” You have what it takes so go out and be innovate!  You are amazing!  Keep dreaming, innovating, and teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Pep Talk, Reflection, Take Care of Yourself

Celebrate Teacher Times, Come On

Dear Teacher,

For those of you on summer break, what have you been up to so far this summer?  I have had a little break, as you know, but now I am back to work…at least the planning part of our job.  My school is emphasizing planning over the summer, and understandably so.  For this reason, this has been a week of intense planning for me.  After a few days of hardcore planning like this, I feel very worn out.  I don’t know how that goes for you, but it can get exhausting for me!

Or are you still in the let-last-year-fade-away phase of summer?  It was a great year, or not so great, and you just need to let the memories slide away and relax a bit so that you can be ready for the next one.  This is an important part of the summer.  We can not carry all of the stress (good or bad) from last year into next year.  A part of summer is to unwind so that you can get wound back up again.  It is vital to your teaching heart to have a little time to let last year go!  You have been emptied out and you need to fill back up!

To those teaching right now (especially the Southern Hemisphere-ers), how are things going for you?  Are you still in the easier times of the year or is it the nose-to-the-grindstone time when the students are not as excited to be in school and you have a million things to do?  Are you still pumped up and enthusiastic about all that you have to do?  Or are you tired, beat up, and on the edge of burn out?  Are you just somewhere on the roller coaster in between the too extremes?

Where ever you are in all of this, it is important to remember not to sweat the small stuff.  Almost a month ago I posted about this and encouraged you to celebrate the small stuff.  Today’s post is just a reminder to do just that!  All of the little things that annoy us, wear us down, and beat us up little by little (including those held over from last year) can become a mountain that eventually falls and crushes us.  We need to build a retaining wall against them…and we do that by celebrating all of those little things that are great every day, week, month, and year!

Another way to look at it is to think of the motivational poster I shared yesterday.  As teachers, we really are a buoy in the water there to guide, protect, and lead our students to where they need to go.  It can be lonely and hard as the “small stuff” comes in as waves and beat on us.  The thing about buoys like the one in the poster, though, is that they are held in place by an anchor.  Celebrating and remembering those little things that go well can be the anchor that holds us in place!  The waves can come, but we know why we are there and why we became a teacher.  To lead the way for a brighter future for our students!

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture only if you link back to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture only if you link back to this blog.)


Summer planning teacher:

  • Celebrate what you have already finished!
  • Throw a party for the work you will not have to do during the year because you did it now!
  • Toast the great things that your students will be able to accomplish because you worked so hard to plan for them!

Summer relaxing teacher:

  • Celebrate those small changes you saw in your students throughout the year, especially the more challenging students!
  • Throw a party for the growth that you see in yourself as a teacher!  You are an even better teacher than you were at this time last year!
  • Toast the accomplishment of a year well done, no matter if it was your best year, your worst, or somewhere in between!  Teacher, you made it and now you are on the other side!

Teacher in the throws of teaching:

  • Celebrate those things that are going right!  What is working well for you right now?  Those are awesome!  Celebrate them!
  • Throw a party for those students that are truly connecting to what you are teaching!  This is why you do what you do!  Have a 10 second party for these kids once in a while!
  • Toast the things that you have been able to notice that are not working and you have changed to teach your students better!  How have you monitored and adjusted to improve student learning?  Here’s to those things!  Cheers!

Teacher, celebrate!  Dig that anchor in deep and the sweaty small stuff won’t affect you as much!  The celebrations are important.  You need them.  Don’t forget to celebrate a little something every day!

You are so awesome!  You are a great teacher!  You are making a difference!  I truly believe in you!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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

Pick Your Pep Talk

Dear Teacher,

To quote one of my new personal heroes, Kid President, “I think we all need a pep talk.”

I was thinking about what to write this morning, I realized how tired I was and not ready for the day.  I need a pep talk.  And if I need one, you probably need one.  So, I will pep talk myself and you at the same time.

Because I do not know where you are or what you may be going through and need right now, I am going give a bunch of pep mini-talks.  Figure out which one you need, and run with it.  It is choose-your-own-pep-talk-adventure day.  🙂

Bad Week at School (there are three main possible bad kind of weeks…pick the pep talk you need):

  • Teacher, you know it does get better.  Another day is always around the corner.  Things will pick up.  You will pick things up.  You are good like that.  Why not pick things up today.  Be the change your week needs.  Control the things you can control, be awesome at them, and let everything else go.  Bad weeks are not forever.  Turn this week around and look for the good.  You can do it.  You know you can.  You are awesome, so make the rest of the week awesome.  Be the awesome.
  • Teacher, your students love you.  You know that they do.  It may not seem like it after the week you have had, but they do love you.  Be patient.  Be understanding.  Be awesome to them.  They will awesome you back.  I promise.  Pick a couple that need extra patience and care…give them that patience and care, and they may turn and influence the rest of your students!  It gets better.  It will get better.  Just wait for the better and do not give up.
  • Teacher, administration is just doing their job.  Even if things seem over the top, just do what you do best.  Focus on your kids.  Let every choice you make be traced back to what is best for your students.  Things will usually pan out in your favor if you do.  You are great at your job.  You are awesome!  Do not stress out.  Do not let the pressure make you think less of yourself.  Keep on being the best teacher you can be.  Take the criticism and let it make you better.  If it is undeserved, then find a way to move past it.  I know you can.  You are awesome.  Remember, whatever it is, it will soon pass…or at least pass eventually!  Keep teaching, Teacher.  Keep pressing on!

Issues Outside of School (pick the one you need):

  • Teacher, you have a job to do.  I know it is hard, but find a way to leave what is heavy on your mind and heart at the doorway of your classroom.  Love your kids.  Turn your stress and pressure into a motivation to show your students how much you care.  Slow down at school.  Enjoy what you love doing: teaching.  You are a teacher because you love it.  Love what you do and let that help you relieve some of that outside stress.  You can leave all of that until the afternoon.  You are awesome.  You are a professional.  Push through that personal pain and be the awesome teacher that you are!  Let your students love you through whatever it is.
  • Teacher, you are not on your own.  You are surrounded by teachers that understand.  Talk to someone you trust.  Let them help you carry your burden.  If you need some time to yourself today, find someone to help you work that out.  Your fellow teachers understand.  We have all had those times.  Do not carry this alone if you do not have to.  When life gets to be too much, you can not let that affect your relationship with your students.  Find someone to help.  Help is out there and ready.  You are not alone!

Summer Time Teacher (I can’t address everything, but hopefully you can find something to apply):

  • Teacher, you are on a break, but you are still a teacher.  Relax, but do not get lazy.  Get something ready for next year.  Work on something today.  Find something cool you can do in the coming year.  Read a book or search for one to start.  Don’t forget who you are on the inside…a teacher.  Research, talk to other teachers, brainstorm…do something!  You are awesome and I know you will think about teaching in some way…and that is one of those reasons you are a great teacher!
  • Teacher, STOP working.  Take a break.  Next year will get here soon enough.  Spend time with your friends and family.  Play with your kids, if you have them.  Spend time with your significant other, if you have one.  See some friends.  Do something that is not school related.  As a matter of fact, do not think about school at all.  You are an awesome teacher, but take a break!  You do not have to be Teacher of the Year over the summer.  Relax and recharge for next year.  Your students need you to!

Okay, I know I have not addressed everything.  I hope I wrote something that helps you!  You are awesome, Teacher!  You are believed in!  You are cared for!  Go out and do something awesome today!

Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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