Posted in Challenge, Choose Positive, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Mondays, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

The Surefire Way to Make Any Day Better (especially Mondays)


Dear Teacher,

We all have bad days.  We all have good days.  And we all have lots and loads of mediocre days that are just kind of “eh.”  That is just the way life goes, teacher or not.

I know I am stating the obvious, but the good days tend to be the ones we enjoy more.  Duh, right?  We get more done.  We are happier.  We feel more accomplished.  But the good ones are not the majority of the days of our lives…life gets in the way and chokes out days from being memorable, let alone good.

We are busy – so much to do and so little time.  So many responsibilities to stay ahead of as a teacher.  There is school life.  There is home life.  The needs of your family.  The needs of your students.  The needs of you.

Not to mention, bad stuff does happen to good people.  The smallest thing can send us in a downward descent from the pursuit of good days.

Stuff happens.

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)

It is not reasonable to think that most days can be good.  That is not realistic.  And perhaps it is one of the reasons that good days are so good…they are rare and a treasure to find.

I get that.  I do.  I have been around long enough to know that it is true.

But…what if we could make any day better?

I am not saying make every day a great day, but I am saying you can make any day better.  You can make bad days better days.  You can make “blah” days less, well, “blah.”  AND you can make good days great days!  Bonus: it isn’t even hard to do and it is pretty much a guarantee (most of the time)!

I can make any day better?  Please, do tell, Teacher.  What is this simple way to make every day better?

Yes you can and yes it is very simple.

Get ready for it.

Here it comes.

Drum roll, please.

You can make any day better by making someone else’s day better.

I bet you have heard this before, but it is true.  I can tell you from personal experience from practicing it in life, running this blog for the last couple of years, and using social media that helping others be encouraged, happy, or just less sad has the same effect on you as you do it.  And it does not matter what kind of day you are having.

When you reach out to others, it does something inside of you.  It lets you see a little more color in the world.  It helps you to take the blessings and curses in your life in a different way.  It gives you a fresh look at the world.  It makes you more glad for the things that make you glad and less sad about the things that make you sad.  It makes you feel, um, better, even if you where already feeling pretty good.

If you make a practice of trying to find ways to make the day better for other people, you’ll discover that most days are pretty good or close to really  good.  It’ s all about perspective.  It is about seeing life as more than just about you and what is going on in your life.  It is about being better to other people.

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)

The cool part is, the people whose day was made better turn and do the same for others.  Sometimes you even get to see Pay It Forward kind of miracles happen around you, especially with other teachers at school.

So what are some of the ways I can do this?

That is the best part, there are as many ways as there are people in the world…but I will give you a few ideas to try today.  These are the ones I try to practice most, especially on bad days:

  • Smile more.  Smiling does something inside of you that makes you feel a little happier, and the people you are smiling at feel a little better, too.
  • High-fives.  More high-fives.  Kid President talks about this often.  “Let’s live in a world with more high fives.”  I have been poked fun at for it before, but high-fives to make people feel better and helps you take yourself a little less seriously.  Give at least 10 high-fives today…I bet you will smile a little more (back to Thing 1 🙂 ).
  • Tell someone how awesome you think something they are doing is.  This one is guaranteed to make all involved feel better.  Have a conversation with another teacher about something you think is amazing about how they teach or interact with students and ask them about it.  Hey, this one counts as personal PD, too.  Score!
  • Write a note to someone just letting them know what you notice and like about them.  This one is great to do for other teachers and students.  I have written to all of my students and other teachers at the school in the last couple of years (over time…not all at once).  People really appreciate that.  I find that when I did that for the most difficult students (or teachers) it helped me appreciate them more and helped build rapport and relationships.  Write a note to a fellow teacher that needs encouragement today and one for a difficult student.  Even good days get better with this one!
  • Write a note to yourself.  This one is best on bad days.  Write about what is going right.  Write about how you are making a difference.  Tell yourself a joke to make you laugh.  Remind yourself of what makes you a good teacher and what you should be proud of about you.  Keep the note and make yourself read it from time to time.  Days will be made better, I promise.
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)

There are many, many more, but this list will get you started.  Little things make the most difference.  I shared a video from Remind in the last post that was about the small things that teachers do that have the biggest effect on students.  They refer to it as “teaching small” and have an initiative called #teachsmall.  I love this concept so much, because it is so true.  I will talk about it in a future post (because my mind was blown by the idea), but I bring it up now because making students’ and other teachers’ days better are one of the small things that we do that are so important.

teachsmall2
Image Source: http://www.remind.com @RemindHQ

When you are having a better day, students are more connected to you and learning more.  Other teachers having better days has the same effect for them.  Most of all, when students are having a better day because of the influence of teachers, real learning happens and the world and future is changed for the better.  So teach small today, Teacher, and make your day and world better.

You are an amazing teacher, even on a bad day!  I know you try to make the best of every day…keep on doing that!  You are making a difference.  You are changing the world, I promise!  Keep on making days better and keep on teaching, Teacher!

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)
Posted in Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Reason for Teaching, Reflection

It’s Grow Time


Dear Teacher,

Happy New Year!  And so a new one begins, huh?  I am not sure what this school year has been like for you so far, but you have a fresh start to the second half.  What are you going to do with it?

Image: Wikipedia

I can’t help but think of a new year as a seed.  It is something that is up to you on how it will grow.  Like I teach my students whenever I teach my unit on plants, seeds stay dormant until they have the right conditions to grow.

I moved into my current classroom and curriculum three years ago.  In one of the drawers, I have many as a science teacher, I found a bag of beans.  I had no idea how old they were and decided not to use them….until this year.

Image: Wikipedia

This year, I went a little “grow crazy” during the plant unit and tried to plant as much as I can using the big grow light set-up we have.  I remembered those seeds.  I did the germination in a damp paper towel thing, and despite the age of the seeds, they still germinated!

I planted them, watered them, and let time and nature do the rest.  As I said, I grew several things all at the same time.  I was disappointed that, though many things flowered, nothing came to fruit…or so I thought.

Another teacher came to observe in my room and we got talking about my plants and how the plants flowered by nothing else.  He knows a lot more about growing than I do, and he started looking through them.  And he found something…on the bean plants.  He found little bean pods.  Not only did they grow, they produced more seeds!  I was disappointed in the size until some students and I started looking through the plants and we found large bean pods!  It was a cool moment for this science teacher who is bad at growing stuff!

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

Though the beans were who-knows-how-old, they were still dormant and waiting for the right conditions to grow.

Why did I share this story?

Teacher, you may have had a rough school year.  Not much may seem to have happened for you or your students.  You may have seen nothing but seedlings so far…or worse, you just see empty soil.

Do not give up!

You have a fresh start coming up!

Your seeds may still just be dormant.

You just need the right conditions for growth!

I do not know what growth or the right conditions look like for you, but you do.  What will it take to make that happen?  What do you need?  What do you need to focus on?

Stop whining about what is going wrong this year and work on what is going right!  Give yourself and your students the light, water, and nutrients needed for growth!  Reflect, regroup, and regrow!

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

You can do it!

You know what it takes!

You have what it takes!

It time to get growing!

It is grow time, Teacher!

You are awesome and I know you have what it takes to get things growing this year.  You are an amazing teacher.  You are making a difference.  Don’t give up!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Thank You!, You Are Awesome!!!

A Little Reminder


Dear Teacher,

I hope that you have had a restful, resetting break so far!  I really do.

As the business of Christmas settles down I know that thoughts of school are starting to creep back in.  I know this is true because you are a great teacher.

This is why I am writing to you today.  I want to say thank you.  Thank you for being a great teacher.  Thank you for all that you do.  Thank you for your patience.  Thank you for your creativity.  Thank you for you!

You are amazing!

You are a gift to your students.

You are a gift to education.

You are a gift to the world!

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!

image

You are awesome.  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.

wpid-storagesdcard0MemesBaby-Godfather.jpg.jpg

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 General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Poster/Graphic, Reflection, Thank You!

The Thankful 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)

Dear Teacher,

I was going to take a break from writing over Thanksgiving break, but I had a rough day on Tuesday (the last day of school for me before break) so I have been reflective.  My reflections have been some thoughts that I really feel like I should write down.  Writing helps me process them and will make them real to me.  I decided to write them to you because, maybe, you are going through something similar and need some similar encouragement and thoughts.

This is one of those times that I am writing to myself and letting you listen in.  Eavesdrop away, Teacher.

Too often I let myself get wrapped up in the actions, behavior, and/or attitude of one or a small handful of students.  I let this small cluster change my day and change my attitude because of these students.  I let this affect how I am feeling and change my behavior, actions, and reactions towards other students and my coworkers.  I let this make me feel like a failure.  I let this make me feel like a bad teacher.  I let this make me doubt my choices the led to becoming a teacher at all.

These feelings do not last long, but they are nonetheless real.  The feelings do affect me.  They really do.  Even if they are short-lasted, they do take a toll on me from time to time.

I know I shouldn’t let this happen.  I know that letting one or a few students make me go down this road is not productive.  But it happens.  Every year.  At least once or twice.  The cycle begins and I have to work through it.

If I know that this cycle is not productive, why do I keep letting myself get forced into it?  Do I have to go through this cycle?  Do I have to let the few students affect how I am with the many other students that are learning and doing the right things every day?  Do I need to go through this cycle of doubt and wonder about my choices?

If not, how do I avoid it?

Don’t get me wrong, reflection and analyzing what we do and say is important.  It is vital.  I am not saying that.  I know that doubt can make you stronger when you work through it.  I am just talking about the cycle that a handful of students can take you down where this few makes you feel like a failure as a teacher.  Where your focus is on them and not the rest of your students who are thriving in your class.  (I guess I should mention that it is not always the student that makes you feel like a failure…sometimes it is a parent like happened for me last year.)

So, how do I avoid this?

Today being Thanksgiving gave me a thought.  Maybe one tool that helps here, one weapon in this battle, is thankfulness.  Gratitude.  The attitude of taking stock of what is going well instead of what is not.

Being thankful for the good things takes your focus off of what is going wrong.  It puts into perspective that things really aren’t that bad and you that you can build on those things that are going great.  It lets you see the “silver lining” and move on.  Thankfulness lets the not-so-great things roll off your back like water off of a duck.

Being a thankfully reflective teacher can change you…especially in the moment when one or few students make you feel like you aren’t doing a good job.

Really?  Can it be that simple?

I don’t know that this is all of it, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.  A big step in that direction.  As I have thought about this on this Thanksgiving morning, some of my stress from Tuesday has started to melt away.  Not all of it, but a lot of it.  It is changing my attitude.  It is changing me.  It is letting me remember why I do what I do and put up with what I put up with.

It is refilling my patience.  That is a feat that is hard to do in the thick of a school year!  I will be honest, it helps that I have a break from school…but I still needed a patience refill!

So, what can we be thankful for as teachers?

I am just going make a quick “Thankful List” for me.  You can be thankful for whatever you need to be thank for…it sounds simplistic, but I think it will make a difference for you as it has for me.  What are you teacher-thankful for?

My Thankful Teacher List

  • I have a job.  That is important.  Not all teachers have one right now.
  • I work at a great school with great teachers.  ‘Nuff said.  🙂
  • I am on the best team of teachers at a school of great teachers.
  • I have wonderful, amazing students.
  • I have students who actually care when I am having a bad day.
  • I have students succeeding in my class who have had little success in school to this point (and I teach 6th grade).
  • I have students whose behavior has improved immensely and they are really starting to take their job as a student seriously.
  • Almost all of my students are interested in science, even if they haven’t been until this year (I teach science).
  • Most of my students work, cause no problems, and are improving in their ability to think and learn on their own.
  • I get to teach science to middle-schoolers, which is an amazing job to have!
  • I have a few students who work hard just because they know I care for them and want them to succeed.
  • Even those giving me a hard time will come around at some point.
  • I work with teachers who will help me become a better teacher.
  • I know I said it already, but I have amazing students.

Wow, I am glad I wrote those out instead of just thinking them.  I feel so much better.  Thankfulness does change you!  Can you do the same?  Write out a list of what you are thankful for in your classroom and with your students.  You don’t have to do it here, but you can if you would like!

Let gratitude change your attitude.

I know that sounds cheesy, but it does work!  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving, Teacher!  If you aren’t from the US…Happy Thursday!

You are amazing!  You are awesome!  You are getting through to your students.  Don’t give up!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Reflection, Weekend Note

As You Look Back…


Dear Teacher,

How was your week?  Was it a rough one?  Was it a “blah” one?  Was it the best week ever?

Looking back is a part of our job.  It is a part of what we do.  It is a part of who we are.  It is a vital function to the process of teaching.  We have to do it.  Good or bad, we have to analyze the week.  What went wrong?  What went right?  What worked?  What didn’t?  Where did you thrive?  Where did you fall on your face?

Reflection can be hard.  It is hard to relive the week, sometimes.  But we need to do it.  We have to.  As painful as it can be, we have to go through it day by day.  This is the only way to become a better teacher and let your awesome shine in the weeks to come.

As you look back, though, focus.  What matters most?  What are the most important things that you need to do in your role as a teacher at your school (and any other roles that you might have)?  What do your students need most?  What do they need to learn?  What do they need to learn about learning for themselves?  What do your students need outside of learning?  What do they need to become better, independent Earth dwellers one day?

What does your school need from you most?  What do your colleagues need from you?  What does your family need from you?  What do you need from you?  I mean truly need.  

What matters most?

Let what matters most be the mirror that you judge yourself by.  There are so many little things, the minutia of teaching, that can get us wrapped around the axle of the teacher’s life.  These things can stress us out.  These are the things that wipe us out.  These are the things that can lead to burnout quickest.  These are the things that don’t lead to what matters most.

Fun=House Mirror

Don’t reflect by these muddle puddles.  They are fun-house mirrors.  They are not a real reflection of you as a teacher.  They do not show you who you really are.  They are a false reflection.  Don’t judge yourself by these things!  Easier said than done, but you are going to have to let those things go.

Let them go. 

Let them go.

Let them go.

Focus.

What matters most?

Use the “matters most” for reflection.  How was your week when you look at those things?  What do you need to change?  What are you doing well?  How will you make the “matters most” matter more next week?

Mirror – Ikea

Look back, Teacher.  How are you doing?  How was this week?

You are awesome!  You know what matters most.  You know how to let the other stuff go.  You are making a difference…what matters most is your goal.  This makes you amazing!  Keep on focusing and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

Be The Shark…Just Keep Swimming


Shark Bite – Daily Mail

Dear Teacher,

Yesterday I mentioned that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the many things to do and the lack of time to get them done.  Today is not much different…well, in a way it is worse because a pending “one more thing on my plate” has been served to me so I am balancing yet one more responsibility in my now exhausted arms.  BUT, I did feel that I needed to write today.  I am talking to myself today, but you are welcomed to listen in.  🙂

Sharks are awesome.  Not that it needed to be said, but it is so very true.  Sharks are cool.  I have thought so since I was a kid.  I never really grew out of it.  Then again, who has?  There is a reason that Shark Week has been going strong for all of these years.

I have a renewed love of sharks as this is my second year teaching animals (I am a Science teacher).  Sharks are a fascinating fish, creature of the sea, and inhabitant of our little blue planet.  There are so many types and each group is different from the others.  They cannot be lumped all together and very few assumptions about sharks are true for all of them.  Each shark species has its own interesting characteristics and quirks.

One of these quirks you may or may not know about, and it came to mind today as I was think about how I feel like I have so much to do that I don’t know where or how to start.  Some sharks, especially the bigger predators have to keep swimming to live.  Without movement water does not move through their gills.  Without water in the gills oxygen cannot be taken in.  Without oxygen, respiration stops.  Without respiration, well, RIP Mr. or Mrs. Shark.

Movement is necessary.  Movement is vital.  Movement is non-negotiable.  Movement is life.

If the Great White does not swim, the Great White will die.  Sure, it is the big bad fish of the ocean that can take on almost any challenger (I know, other nerd-types like me, Tiger Sharks are actually the most dangerous predator…just let me keep writing).  Sure the Great White is one of the most feared creatures in the world.  Sure, none can stand (or swim) with it present and not be pretty fearful.  However, even the mighty Great White is powerless without movement.  It has to swim.  Just like Dory, Great White need to “just keep swimming.”

You probably see where I am taking this.  I think Teachers are awesome.  We are the sharks of society.  I don’t mean that in the classical metaphor of “shark” for a person.  I mean that we are a group that is very often misunderstood.  We can’t be pigeon-holed together as one type of teacher.  We are all different.  We are not the same.  We have our own characteristics and quirks.

We are also ferocious.  We, in society, are taking on foes that few people want to fight.  We are fighting illiteracy, poverty, neglect, low-self esteem, triggers that lead students in to gangs, environments that can lead to drugs, and so many other things that a list is impossible.  We are big, bad sharks.  We are like Great Whites in this way.  We are fighters.  We do what few others can.

Yet, we need to remember to keep swimming.  We have to.  It is the only way to stay alive.  We have to move.  We have to keep moving.  We can’t be overwhelmed.  We will drown.  We will die as teachers.  We have to keep moving, swimming, and going.

So, when there are a million things to do, pick the most important, choose a direction, and then get going.  Do something.  Do not stay still.  Move!  Go!  Swim!

You can do this!  You are the shark!  Start swimming today, keep going, and don’t stop.  You’ve got this.  Today is yours.

Just keep swimming!

Swimming Shark

You are awesome!  You are a shark in the lives of your students, in a good way.  You are fighting battles that they cannot fight on their own.  You are also busy, tired, and overwhelmed.  Don’t give up!  You are too amazing to give up!  Just keep swimming and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher