Posted in General Inspiration, Note to Teachers, Reason for Teaching

Celebrating Independence

Dear Teacher,

Today’s post will probably mean most to my American readers, but even if you are from another country, read on…it may still speak to you!

Today is July 4th.  Happy 4th, everyone!  Today most of us will go to a cookout and/or watch some fireworks while we spend time with friends and family, as well as a number of other traditions people may have.  It is a day to celebrate and to remember when our country was officially founded.

July 4th is the day that we mark the Second Continental Congress’ passing and signing of a resolution of independence from England called the Declaration of Independence (though there is a lot of debate about when it was actually signed by most of the people who signed it).  This document was the founding document of the United States as an independent country with its own government and no longer under the reigns of England.  Today is the day that we celebrate that independence.

This morning, I read up a bit on the traditions, celebrations, and meaning of the 4th of July holiday (Wikipedia had some pretty fascinating tidbits on it).  I found out some interesting pieces of information about it.  It was almost an instant holiday.  The year after the Declaration was passed, there was a celebration on the 4th in Philadelphia (the capitol at the time and where the Continental Congress met), and the party even included fireworks!  The tradition of celebrating on that day continued year after year and spread throughout the country.  To me, this seems pretty amazing that the holiday basically began the year after the event!  But it was a pretty amazing event, and it should be remembered, honored, and celebrated!

Now, how am I going to bring this back to teaching?  I don’t know that I need to, but I think I will anyway.  🙂

Think about your students.  I know that we all teach students of different backgrounds and each year our students are different.  Most of us are on summer break, as well.  For this reason, just think about your students in general.  Some come from excellent homes and environments…other don’t.  Some have amazing and obvious gifts and talents that will take them far…but not all of them.  Some know how to learn, think, and explore knowledge independently…but not every single one of your students.  Some know how to be independent learners…a lot may not.  Some students know what it means to be free and what freedom means…other have no idea.

We are teachers.  We are like the armies, soldiers, and volunteers that fought for the freedom for our countries founders to be able to declare independence from England.  We have to fight for our students to know thinking independence.  Without the freedom to think on their own, they will never know true freedom as an adult…and I believe that most of our job is to get students ready for the future, no matter what we may teach.  We need to know each student and what their individual learning styles and need are, and then teach them how to know how to do this on their own.  They will not always have us fighting for them…we need to teach them to fight on these battles on their own!

I know this post may be a stretch, but a part of celebrating independence is understanding what independence is.  We as adults have a pretty good understanding of what freedom is.  Not just freedom in the sense of the freedoms we have in our country, but freedom of mind…to stand and think on our own.  We need to remember that our job is to help our students to be able to do the same one day.  We are fighting for their freedom to be who they will be one day, on their own.  Don’t give up the fight for your students’ independence!

(c)DearTeacherLT (You may use the image if you link back to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT (You may use the image if you link back to this blog.)

You are an awesome teacher!  You are a great freedom fighter!  Don’t give up and don’t ever stop!  You are changing the future one student at a time!  This makes you amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!  Happy Forth of July!

Love, Teacher

PS…The picture is from when I went on a cruise and got to sail past the Statue of Liberty.  It was hard not to think about what it must have been like for the millions of people that sailed to Ellis Island from around the world in hopes of finding the freedom promised in America.  Are you that beacon of hope of future independence for students?  I want to be.

Posted in Guest Post, Reason for Teaching, Teacher Testimony

Why (Did I Become a Teacher)?

Dear Teacher,

Let me introduce your Substitute Teacher for today.  I am quite excited to share his thoughts with you, because it is different than any other post I have put up so far.  It is a “teacher testimony” of sorts.  It is the back story of a teacher and why he decided to put the hard work in to become and stay a teacher through all of the ups and downs of teaching.  I think you are going to like this one!

Your teacher today is Mr. Tim Sexton.  Teacher Tim has been a teacher for the past 15 years and is currently teaching at Davidson Middle School in Crestview, Florida.  He believes that all students CAN learn and that it is our job to facilitate their learning.  He teaches students to think for themselves and be responsible citizens in the school, the community in which they live and within their own lives.

It was 6 a.m. June 3, 1994, at the end of the graveyard shift of stocking at the local grocery.  All night I was thinking of math formulas, biology vocabulary, and other items of testing interest for the second part of my day, college.  The store manager had asked me to stay later because it was the July 4th weekend, and there was still product to put out for the potentially busy weekend.  I told the manager that I was unable to stay because I had class at 8 a.m. You could see and hear the frustration as he told me to go to his office; he wanted to talk to me.  I opened the door to the office to see him standing there huffing and insisting that I stay later to help out.  I repeated, “I can’t”.  He asked, “What are you going to school for?”

I told him I was going to school to become a teacher.  As he replied while laughing, he said “you know teachers don’t make that much money, right?”  I told him without hesitation this reply, “I know, but if I can keep one student off the beaten path I was forced to walk growing up, or see the “LIGHT” come on in the eyes of a student, that is worth any amount of money you can ever pay me.”  He had nothing to say after that, and I left that office to continue my pursuit of fulfillment.

Have you forgotten your reason why you do this?  Most of us are heading into our summer break tired, run down, and ready to do nothing but re-coop.  Think about that question, “Why?”  Why do you get up early to go a place that doesn’t seem to appreciate you?  Why do you stay late trying to do a little extra for those same people that drove you crazy all day? Why do you make calls to parents who don’t care to talk to you? Why do you keep trying?  Well, we do it because we care; we do it because we are called to do so; we do it to make a difference in the lives of young ones where this may be their only chance to find that difference.  Take out those letters you have collected throughout the years from former students thanking you for being there, for teaching, for taking the time to say “HI” every day when no one else did.  Those are reminders of “WHY” we continue doing what we do.

How do you answer that question?  Whether you are a beginning teacher or 15 years into what appears on the outside a thankless profession, Look inside and remember your “WHY”.

Thank you, Teacher Tim!  I love this idea of remembering our “WHY,” especially on those tough days!

Teacher, what is your “WHY?”  Do you have a back story like this?  Do you have a reason for teaching that you can look back to?  Have you developed even stronger “WHYs” since you started teaching?  I know I have!  Please share yours with the class.  🙂  It is encouraging to hear the reasons other people teach, because it reminds you of yours.

You are awesome, Teacher Tim and every other Teacher reading this!  You are believed in.  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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