Posted in General Inspiration, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers, More Than Scores, Note to Teachers, Uncategorized

Assesments, You, & Your Students


Dear Teacher,

It is here: Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation Season.

It comes around every year.  No one loves it, but it is a harsh reality that will probably not go away any time soon.

Students must be tested.  Learning must be assessed.  Teaching must be evaluated.  How else will accountability happen in education?  Right?

Why do I hear crickets after asking the question?

Oh yeah, no one wants to talk about it.  Okay, so I won’t either.  I just want to remind you about something.

You and your students are way more than just an assessment or evaluation result.  The learning and growing that happens in your classroom can’t be measured by a standardized test and/or rubric.

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DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

The true measurement of what happened in the classroom can only be experienced.  You have to know where the students were when they came to you in the beginning of the year…not just academically and according to standards, but also socially, emotionally, and ownership of learning.  These things are hard to standardize…no, they are impossible to standardize.

So…DON’T LOSE HEART ABOUT TESTING AND EVALUATIONS!

I know there is a lot tied to them…but breathe.  Relax.  Remember that the true worth in what happens in your classroom is in the results of the growth that is clear in the students that leave your classroom at the end of the year.

You can’t control the assessment process, but you can control how you react to it.

Don’t put all of your stock in the assessments and evaluations.  Instead, take stock of what has happened and the change you have seen in your students…even if it is just a little bit of change in some students, you can celebrate it!  A win is a win.

Reflect on what you have seen in each student.  Write it down.  Point it out to them.  Let them see the growth as you take time to see it, too.  Make sure they know that this is the true measurement of learning in your class.  This will help you and your students find a bit of joy here in the stressful season at the end of the year.

What have you seen and can celebrate? 

  • A student who asks questions more?
  • Someone who follows instructions more often?
  • Homework being done a little more often?
  • Effort being put in where it wasn’t before?
  • Finishing work and not giving up?
  • An increase in success for some students?
  • Waiting more often and taking turns?
  • Someone who has stopped being mean to others?
  • The list could go on and on, but I think you get it.

You are an excellent and amazing teacher.  I have no doubt you know how to measure the learning and change in your classroom.  This is just a little nudge to get back to what you know and to find joy at the end of what has been a trying and tough year.

You have done a great job this year!  Your students are changing.  They are different students than came to you at the beginning.  You are the one to thank for that!  You have stuck it out with them.  You have put in the effort and tears.  You have done whatever it takes to see that change.  Celebrate it.  You really are an awesome teacher!

Don’t let the testing and evaluations get you bogged down.  You and your students are more than scores.  You are learners and learning HAS happened this year .  You are the reason that it has…and this means that you rock!

Thank you for all you do!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

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Posted in Theme Song

Fight Song [for Teachers]


Dear Teacher,

It is not even almost halfway through the year, but I am already tired.  How about you?  It gets busy fast doesn’t it?  So much to do…

I think it is time for a little rally.  There is a lot of year left and our students need us to be on our game.  It is time for a theme song post, and I think I know the song we need right now.  Click play and then read on.

Sometimes it feels so lonely as a teacher.

We are only one person, but we are trying to change the lives of our students each day.  We are helping to shape and mold their futures.

We believe in them.  We care about them.  We know what we do matters.  It is our nature, heart, and calling to do our best to make a difference.

We have ideas.  We have plans.  We have a drive.  We are committed.

But we can feel so overwhelmed sometimes.

There is so much to do in order to do what we need to do.

Some of the the stuff to do is extra and not from us, but some of us is from ourselves because we want to do the best we possible can do for our students.

We want them to see how great that they can be.  We want the experience in our classrooms to inspire them to move on and move deeper.  We want them to become learners that never stop.

We can’t stop.

We have more to give.

We have more to be.

We have lives to change.

Teacher, you have fight in you.  You have a warrior inside of you.  You are a monster, in a good way.  You have battles to wage for your students.  They need you to keep fighting and keep going.

Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs https://goo.gl/wU4BW9
Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs
https://goo.gl/wU4BW9

Find those reserves.

Remember why you are doing this…

You may only have one match, but you can make an explosion in the life of a students!

You have a lot left inside of you.

Keep going.

You’ve got this.

Never stop.  Never give up.  Never lose hope for the difference that you are making.

Keep dreaming.  Keep moving.  Keep going.

Don’t lose the part of you that realizes how important what you do is!  I know that you have a lot to do.  I know that you don’t love all of the aspects of your job…but your students need you!  It is worth fighting through.  It is worth doing all that you can to keep going.  The little things you do matter more than anything.  Remember why you a teacher…the students.

You are not crazy to keep doing this.  Just focus on those lives behind the eyes that are looking at you.  You have a purpose.  You are needed.  You are vitally important to the people in your classroom and the world.

Keep fighting!  We all need you to!  Keep breathing and keep going!

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You’ve got this.  I believe in you!  You are amazing.  You are making a difference.  You really are.  Keep fighting and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, More Than Scores, Pep Talk, Quotes to Inspire, Teaching Power, You Are Awesome!!!

The Easy Button for Increasing Classroom Engagement


 

Image Source: www.staples.com
Image Source:
http://www.staples.com

Dear Teacher,

If you have been teaching for any length of time, you know one thing to be true above most others…there are no silver bullets.  There is no “one thing” that will be able to fix all things in your classroom or for your students.  There is not a magic teaching pill that will cause all students to learn, grow, and find success.

No, you no the very real reality that teaching, learning, and education take work.  And I am not going to go against that.  Not one bit.

There is much truth in the fact that you have got to be an active learner yourself and find out best practices and new ideas.  You have to practice those best practices.  You have to know your content.  You have to be creative.  You have to figure out new ways to plan and facilitate learning in your classroom.  You have to keep up with technology and how to use it as a tool to help students learn more effectively.  Speaking of students, you have to do the very challenging and messy work of getting to know them and building rapport and relationships with them.  The same goes with your students’ parents, other teachers and staff, and administration.

Teaching is work.  Difficult work.  Rewarding work, true, but hard work.

Um, so far this post is pretty much the opposite of your title…where is the easy button?

Everything said so far is what we know in our teacher reality.  But…there is one thing that does make all of this a lot easier and will increase student engagement in your class.

Image Source: http://www.authormedia.com/mybooktable-1-3/
Image Source: http://www.authormedia.com/mybooktable-1-3/

That easy button is….wait for it….

Oh no.  Is this one of those times where you give the big build up and the one answer is me?

You guessed it.  The easy button for making some of the hard parts of teaching and to increase engagement is, indeed, YOU!

Just like all of the other times I have set you up for a big secret in education, the key is you.  Something inside of you and about you can unlock the easiness to making tough things seem less tough.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Maya Angelou:

If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

There is so very much that we can change about education and what needs to happen in our classroom.  We can’t change the content we are required to teach.  We can’t change the students (not directly, at least).  We can’t change their parents.  We can’t change their home environments.  We can’t change expectations from administration, districts, and the state (again, not directly).  We can’t change what needs to happen for teaching and learning to truly happen in our classroom.

No, there is not very much that we can change in education…but we can change ourselves.

There is a lot of ways that we can change our attitudes as teachers, but I want to just focus on one…above all else, we need to love what we do!

I am not saying that we have to love all of the bureaucracy, paperwork, and struggles with the harsh realities that our students have to deal with…no, I am not sure that anyone should love that.  I am saying that we need to love the fact that we get to teach students and open them up to wonders of the world and the awesomeness of fighting to understand something new and the thrill of the moment when it all clicks.  We also get to have the hope of being a part of changing the lives of our students for the better and helping them realize how learning new things changes possibilities!  That is what we live for.  That is why we teach.

We need to love what we do!

We have to be excited about what we are teaching in our classes.  If you don’t love all of your content, be excited about the way that you are teaching it!  Don’t love how you teach something?  TEACH IT DIFFERENTLY!  You are in control of that.  You have got to find a way to love what you teach and how you teach it!  You have to!  This is what makes students take notice and want to be engaged in the process of learning.

It is our passion and love of the teaching/learning process that draws students in.  That is the key.  That is the easy button.  Our engagement in the process makes them not want to miss out and be a part of whatever has you so excited!

Think about the great teachers you have had or that you know…they were passionate about what they do, weren’t they?  I bet the answer is yes.

Teachers who love and are passionate about teaching breed students who love and are passionate about learning.

Teacher, love what you do!  Let it show.  Make it obvious.  The students will want a sip of what you are drinking, I promise!  They will be engaged!

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are awesome.  I bet I was preaching to the choir the whole time, wasn’t I?  You do love what you do.  You aren’t afraid to show it.  Remember to keep that passion for teaching and learning going!  Help students be ignited by your fire and their passion for learning will be contagious to others!  Keep on loving what you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk

The Secret Ingredient to Being a Great Teacher…


Dear Teacher,

We live in an interesting time to be in the field of education, do we not?  This is not a set up to talk about the trials and tribulations of being a teacher or administrator in this day-and-age, though there are a lot of difficult and harsh realities for us right now.  There is another side to being an educator right now…

Resources.

We have some of the most amazing resources available to us.  Some teachers have more than others, but we all have more than teachers had at any time in the past.  We have the internet (if not readily accessible to student, you have access to it for planning…you are reading a blog right now, aren’t you?).  We have technology (very few teachers do not have the availability of some kind of tech).  We have each other (we can connect with educators around the world and collaborate and learn from each other).  The list is endless.

We have so much.

Yet, do we have more great teachers than ever before?  I am not sure about that.  It seems like we should, but there is probably the same average amount of great teachers as there ever has been (which is a large number…I am not saying this to knock education).  Great teachers will always be great teachers…no matter the resources.

So how do great teachers become and stay great teachers?

There are A LOT of factors here…

  • Studying education and the latest research
  • Workshops and staying in touch with other great teachers
  • Focusing on students more than content
  • Knowing when to teach more and when to teach less
  • Mastering the art of facilitation
  • And so many other things…

But there is one secret ingredient that I think matters the most and is common among most of the great teachers in history, and it is amazingly simple.

The secret to you being a great teacher is you.

What?

Great teachers know themselves.  They know their strengths and weaknesses.  They work on the weaknesses and play to their strengths.  They do not deny who they are as people, and this lets their passions for teaching and for life play themselves out in the classroom.  Their zeal for what drives them pushes students to strive harder and become interested and engaged.  Because great teachers are keyed into who they are, their dreams are big and they fight to achieve them.  They also know what they need and go after those things…for this reason fund-raising seems easy for them and  “personal PD” is not a new idea because it has been a theme of their lives!

Great teachers are aware of themselves and this makes the more aware of their students and what needs to happen  in their classroom.

Resources are not what make great teachers great…great teachers make all resources great because they are keenly aware of how to use them.  The type of resource or school “realities” are not limitations…they do not really know limitations!

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Great teachers know who they are and do not hide it.

Great teachers share their passions and interests and make them a part of their instruction.

Great teachers have a sense of what they need and this gives them a sense of student needs.

You are a great teacher…you just have to get to know yourself to bring the great teacher out!

You are the key to you being a great teacher!

You are a much greater teacher than you think  you are!  We can all be greater…so lets work on it.  You are amazing!  I know you are a great teacher!  You are making a difference because you are completely awesome!  Keep working at your greatness and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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, Get Psyched!, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Teaching Power, You Are Awesome!!!

Do What You Do…


Dear Teacher,

Today, step out in faith.  You know your students.  You know what they know, need to know, and how to get from point A to point B.  This is what you do.  This is who you are.  You are a teacher.  You teach.  And you’re good at it, I might add.

I know, I know.  There are a lot of voices.  There are a lot of expectations.  There are a lot of opinions, best practices, and researched-based strategies.  But…you are the one that knows what you do best and what your students need from you.

I am not saying do not try what you learn in PD, from books, and the latest post from Edutopia.  By all means, try strategies and ideas to make your teaching better.  BUT, I am saying, be guided in your decisions by the one thing you have that is better than anyone else’s ideas or opinions…knowledge of your students.

You know what you need to do.  You know what resources you need to seek out.  You know what needs to be tried for the sake of your students.  You are the key to it all.

Be confident.  Take a stand for what needs to happen in your classroom.  Do what needs to be done.  Advocate for your students and teach the way that they need you to teach.

Will you have to defend yourself?  Yes.

Will you have to take a little flack?  Of course.

Will you be worn out, beat up, and beat down?  Probably.

Will it be worth it?  Eventually…and you may not see the payoff yourself.
Why do it then?  Because you are a teacher and this is what you do.  You care for your students.  You want them to reach their potential.  You are willing to pour yourself out for your students.

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Teacher, you know how to teach YOUR students.  Teach them well.  Do not be afraid to teach the way that needs to be taught.  You’ve got this!

You are awesome!  You know what to do.  Do it.  Teach your heart out today and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Change the World Challenge, General Inspiration, Pep Talk

Waitin’ on the World to Change


(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,

Last Friday, I accidentally kicked off a theme that carried through for a week.  The challenge of changing the world.  When I wrote it, i did not know that it would resonate with people so much…one of those people being me.  It has stuck with me this week.  The idea that we, especially we teachers, can change the world is a powerful idea.  Not only is it powerful, it is true.

Anyone person can change the world.  Teachers have a chance to multiply their change almost exponentially…only the change is done person-to-person and one student at a time.  You, me, and every other teacher needs to realize this.  It is really what we do.  It is a part of the job,  It is really part of the focus of what we do.  We influence students.  We help them to learn, think, and stand on their own.

Students’ personal change while they are in our class, that change that will allow them to face a world that does not yet exist, is the goal.  The content is not the goal..though it is the medium through which we teach the skills they need for the world ahead of them…it is the means to the end, not the end itself.  We are planting seeds for the future, and the subject and details we teach are just the outer layer of the seed.

Students.  They are our “clients.”  They are who we work for.  They are the concentration area of our job.  They are the center of the plans we make for what we do.  They are the end goal of our work.  They are the work we do.  Pure and simple.  Students are the change the world needs.  We help them learn to be that change.  Period.  The end.  Students.

So…we change the world by focusing on students.

Now what?

The hardest part.  We wait.  We wait for the world to change.  We wait for the seeds to grow.  We wait for the plant to mature.  We wait for the adult plant to spread seeds of its own.  It is the life cycle of plants.  It is the life cycle of teaching.  It is the life cycle of world change.

It is more than waiting though.  When I say that we wait on the world to change, I am not talking about waiting like in the John Mayer song.  It is not sitting back and waiting for something to happen.  It is not waiting for the world to change itself.  We, as teachers, don’t wait that way…and we should teach our students not to wait that way.

We proactively wait.  We keep digging.  We keep planting more seeds.  We keep working on changing the world.  We influence more and more people.  We connect with more and more students (especially the difficult ones).  We keep on going day after day after day.  We never give up trying until start seeing some change in some way every where we look.

We work to cause the conditions of change.  We wait for change.  While we wait, we cause more conditions for change.  We wait.  While we wait, we…well, you get my drift here.  We keep going.

The world WILL change.  You are a part of it.  To quote from the Kid President song I shared last week, “The world can be better, and you’ll be the cause.”  Change is coming.  We just have to work and wait….and “keep going, keep going, keep going.”

(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 an agent of change for AWESOME…because you are awesome.  Keep going.  Just because you don’t see change, it doesn’t mean that it is not happening.  You are doing what it takes!  Keep doing what you do, you amazing teacher, you!  Keep going.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!  Oh, and keep going (did I mention that?)!

Love, Teacher