Posted in Choose Positive, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers

Teacher, I See Your True Colors


Dear Teacher,

I really wanted to write to you this morning.  I know that this has been a difficult and trying time for you.  This time of the year usually is.  I have been thinking and trying to come up with some way to remind you how awesome you are and encourage you to keep going and keep fighting…and I did.

It is time for something I haven’t done in a while – a theme song post.  If you have never read one of my theme song posts, all you have to do is click play on the video and read.  If you can’t read with music on, listen to the song and then read.  Got it?  Good!  Let’s go!

Teacher…no one really knows but us what it is like.  Teaching is one of the roughest roads that someone can choose to go down.  It has a bright destination, but it sure can be a dark path sometimes.  There is no sugar-coating it.  Teaching is tough.

As teachers, we are fighting for the lives and futures of our students.  That is no small thing.  With just that, we are battling some pretty scary and menacing enemies.

Image Source: Wikipedia

On top of that, add the fact that we have “friendly enemies.”  Well meaning people who are trying to make education better are making it quite difficult to do what we need to do to reach those minds in our classrooms.

And then there is the standardize testing…and I will just leave that without comment.  Too much to say…

It can feel like the job of teacher is an impossible task…and it is…it is for anyone besides you.

Listen, Teacher, you were and are cut out for this.  You are amazing!

In everything mentioned above, you keep going.  You keep trying.  You keep fighting.  Because in your heart of hearts you know that you were made for this.

You are a fighter and this is your battle.

It can be a long, grueling skirmish…the enemies surround you…you feel alone in the fight…

But something clicks in for you.  You remember who you are fighting for…and it is not for you.  It is for people, young people, who can’t fight for themselves.  This sparks something deep inside of you and gives you the will and strength to forge ahead.

This is who you are.  These are your true colors.

Not everyone can see them, but I do.  They are shining through…and they are shining brightest in the lives of your students now and tomorrow.

Those true colors are beautiful.  Like a rainbow.

Image: Wikipedia Commons
Image: Wikipedia Commons

You are making a difference, Teacher!  The stands you make are worth it.  The time, energy, and tears are planting seeds in the minds of your students.  And those seeds are growing!

Don’t lose heart, Teacher.  Don’t give up.  You are fighting a good fight.  Keep on fighting and keep on teaching!  You rock!

Love, Teacher

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

[Sometimes Teachers Have to Be] Titanium


Dear Teacher,

How was your weekend?  I know a lot of teachers are coming off of or going into Fall Break, if they are lucky enough to have that where they teach.  Mine is this week, so I am starting a three-day school week.

So how are  you doing this year?  From talking to people and my feedback through the blog, it sounds like many teachers are having a rough year.  What about you?  How is it going?

This year has been good, rough, and just plain interesting for me.  I don’t think you would believe half of the stories that I can already tell just from the 2014-2015 school year.  I can tell you that I am worn out, tired, and a little beat-up.  I know that I am making progress with my students, don’t get me wrong, I am just exhausted.

I have a feeling that you might just feel the same way.  For that reason, today’s post will be a special one.  I haven’t done one of these in a long while, but I think it is time to dust off the Theme Song Post.

If you are new to this blog, you might be wondering, “What is that?”

I pick a theme song for you to listen to while you read the rest of the post.  I hope that it serves as a theme song for your day or week.  It usually sticks with me for the whole week when I do these.

Anyway, click play and then read on…

Teacher, you do one of the most noble, yet challenging, jobs in the entire world.

Unfortunately, it feels more challenging that noble most of the time.

First of all, you work with a room full of students everyday (or several groups of students throughout each day).  That is a challenge in of it self.  You have to know your students.  You have to know what they need.  You have to figure out how to get them to work together.  You have to get them to learn how to learn.  You have to teach them specific content.  You have to…well, you get the point.  This would be a list the size of the internet if I put everything that you need to do on this level of teaching.

Add to that, you have to deal with student issues, behaviors, and struggles.  You have students with bad days.  You have students who don’t get along.  You have students who have IEPs.  You have students that are ESOL.  You have students with BIPs.  You have students that come from environments that do not reinforce what you are teaching.  You have students who are lacking the skills with which they should have had before getting to you.  You have students who need to learn some social skills that are lacking.  You have students who can’t sit still.  You have students on multiple levels of abilities.  You have students who don’t care.  You have students that care too much.  You have a thousand other specifics here.  You have more than a handful of things to think about besides what you teach at any given moment.

On top of all of this, you have voices and critics from the outside.  There is administration telling you how to teach and not teach.  You have teams and other teachers giving advice on how you can better reach your students.  You have parents giving you feedback on what they feel like you are doing wrong.  You have district level people changing the expectations for you left and write.  You have the state making curriculum changes that wildly affect the students that sit in your classroom.  You have an ever changing landscape of standards to muddle through.  You have the world of education with the ever-growing list of best practices, current theories/strategies, and 21st century skills that you just have to incorporate into your classroom and instruction.  You have a million different directions that you are being asked to go everyday.

And then there is you.

All alone.

In your classroom.

With your students.

And you are awesome.

In all of this, you chose to have one focus, and one focus only.

Your students.

You know that it is those young minds that matter most.

And you make it work.

You do everything that you can do to protect your students from all of the other stuff.  You are the umbrella that covers them.  You are the shield.  You are their cover from the mess all around them and you.

Teacher, you try your best to be bullet-proof.

But it is not for you,; it is for them.

I want to encourage you, friend.  You are doing the right thing by focusing on the students before all else.  You are making good choices.  You are making a difference.

I know that it is hard.  It is really, really, really hard sometimes.  But keep going.  Keep fighting.  Keep doing what you do.

It is difficult to be made of titanium, but sometimes you have to be.  I know that you know that it will be worth it for those students sitting in your desks in your room.  Don’t give up.  Don’t stop.  You are an amazing teacher!  I mean that.  I really do!

You are so awesome!  You don’t always feel that way, but it is so very true.  You do what needs to be done for students.  This is why you are a great teacher.  Don’t forget that!  Never stop!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Get Psyched!, Hope for Teachers, Mondays, Pep Talk, Theme Song, You Are Awesome!!!

[Teachers] Like Us…


Dear Teacher,

Welcome to a new week.  For the N. Hemisphere, the summer is about half over (or getting there).  The new school year is looming ever closer…and the great teachers are slowly starting to gear up for it.

For this reason, I decided that it is time to dust off the old favorite of my posting genres and put up a theme song for the week post.   I went looking for a song, and did I ever find one.  I think this song (and video—sans the product placements) is one of the best teacher theme songs ever.  I may adopt is as my theme song for the new year!  We’ll see.

For those new to this blog, click play and read on.  When you are done reading, you may want to go back and watch the video.  It is pretty cool if you think about it in light of our role as teachers.

Teacher, your job is hard.

Few people, besides fellow teachers, understand what it is like.

What we do is taxing all on its own.

Teaching and teaching how to learn while balancing the needs of individual students and their families is not a simple task, but it is one of the most important in the world.

We have a lot to think about.

We love a challenge, and our profession is full of them.

On top of this, though, we are also beat up and blamed for many of the woes of society.  People that do not understand what it is that we do make the choices about how we are to do it.  When things don’t work out, who gets credit for what is wrong?  Yup.  Us.

Yes, Teacher, your job is hard.

But you wouldn’t trade it for the world…most of the time.

Even when you are going through the toughest time in your teaching life and everything inside of you is telling you to quit…except that one small voice that tells you to go on.

Teaching is your blood and you know it is what you were made to do.

That one small voice is a powerful one.

The cool thing is that there is not just one small voice.

All great teachers have that small voice that urges us to go on.

The voice screams and reminds us why we do what we do.

Our students…the children…the young adults…the future.

When we see the faces, when we remember the challenges that will face those faces one day, we have the small spark to get our fire going.

And you are surrounded by other teachers with that same voice and that same spark.

Teachers like us are all around.

And when the fire that burns in all of us burns together…we are a force to be reckoned with.

I am not talking about the world and legislation and banding together over that…that is another story for another blog.

I am talking about being a force against the challenges of being a great teacher for our students, no matter what is said or done on the red tape side of teaching and the hardships that we face.

Teacher, no matter what you have gone through as a teacher, you can get back up!

You are surrounded by teachers like you to help you up.

The small voice inside of you is a crowd and a mob that is all around you.

Just look up.

Just keep going.

Teachers like us will make a difference.

Teachers like us will change the future for our students.

Teachers like us will keep going and keep our students going.

Look around.

Teachers like you are all around.

Keep going, Teacher!

Keep that fire going!

Do it for you.

Do it for your students.

Do it for and with teachers like you!

You are awesome!  Keep going, Teacher, and keep on teaching!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic, Theme Song

Happy Medley (don’t worry, Teacher)


Dear Teacher,

I have been so busy this month, can you tell?  Sorry for space between notes to you!  Hopefully everything will settle down after Christmas break.  I hope!

Well, even though it is mid-week, I figure that we all could still use a theme song for the week.  Click play and then read on.

The message is simple today, which I have been saying a lot lately…it is nonetheless true.  🙂

Don’t worry, Teacher.

School can be hectic.  There is so much to do.  There is so little time.  Teaching is tough.

It is easy to get caught up in the cycle of stress.  We get worn out.  We start to let plates fall.  The stress builds.  We get even more tired.  We let more plates fall.  More stress.  More tired.  More broken plates on the floor.  And the story goes on and on this way.

We teachers like to worry.  Okay, we don’t like it, but we are drawn to worry.  We have to worry.  There is often no choice but to worry.

Stress is coworker.  It is in our classroom.  It comes in with the students.  It comes in with the administrators.  It comes in with our fellow teachers.

It surrounds us.  It swallows us whole.  It is the lurking monster around every corner.  We walk on eggshells trying not to let it know that we are around.

Such is the life of a a teacher.  Stress and worry.

And that is just the school stuff!  I won’t even go into the stress and worry that comes along with the rest of our lives.  Family.  Friends.  Life in general.

And all of this just gets magnified this time of year.  I am writing this before Christmas, but pick the time of year and there is probably something to magnify stress and worry for us.

So what do we do?

We remember one thing…it will all eventually be all right.  Everything’s going to be all right.

We can stress less.  We can.

We can not worry so much.  It is true.

We just have to prioritize and focus.

Easier said than done…but we can do it.

It is not a crime to let some plates drop.  We can clean up the mess and move on.  It is not a big deal.  It just isn’t.

To quote my friend Pete the Cat when he lost one of his groovy buttons, “Do we cry?  Goodness no!  Buttons come and buttons go.”  We can keep on singing our song!

Stuff, stress, and worries come and go.  They do.  They do not have to drive us to the brink.  They don’t.

Don’t worry, Teacher.  Every little thing is going to be all write.

Don’t worry, be happy.

It is okay to be happy.

Be happy today.  Do it for your students.   Do it for you.  Find something about what needs to happen today and the rest of the week that makes you happy and let that drive you.  Don’t worry so much.  Be happy!

I know that you can!  I believe in you!

(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)

As I said, I am writing this before Winter Break.  If you are reading this before break, take the rest of the week and make it less stressful.  Find a way.  Be happier.  It is okay.  You are allowed to do that from time to time.  You and your students will be better for it!

You are awesome and amazing, as usual.  You can and do try to stress less and be happier.  Good for you!  You students are definitely reaping the benefits of it!  You are making a difference in their life by showing them it is possible to stress less and be happier.  They will need those lessons one day!  You are so great and I believe in you so much!  Go get it today and make today great!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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

Move Along (like I know you do)


(c)DearTeacherLT2013
(c)DearTeacherLT2013

Dear Teacher,

If we were to chose an anthem for the life of a teacher, I think this song should at least be on the ballot.  It definitely sums up how I feel right now.  We have so much to do.  We hit so many roadblocks, but still we keep moving.

Click play and then read on.

You are tired…so am I.

You have too much to do…so do I.

You are behind on grading…so am I.

You have assignments/tests to put together and paper work to finish…so do I.

You are a teacher and you have teacher things to do (like them or not) and so do I.

We can’t possibly get them all done, can we?

On top of all of this, there are countless classroom conundrums, people and personality problem, and irritating individual issues that we have to work through day after day after day (after day).

We have those students that like to get under our skin…and they like to stay there.

We have coworkers who can make our work more difficult.

We have family and family things that are also apart of our lives (we have lives outside of school?).

We are overwhelmed.

We are over-worked.

We are over it.

What do we do?

We move along.

Yep.  We move along.

A part of teaching, one of the biggest parts in my opinion, is the art of moving along.  We find a way to keep our head down and plow on through the difficult times and situations of teacherhood.  We focus.  We prioritize.  We move along.

How do you move along when you don’t feel like you can?

I am not sure how you move along, but I do know that somehow you have to find a way.  I know for me it is just picking what I know is vital, what I know I can control, what I know I can take care of and then letting the rest go, do the minimum, or get help.  I find a way to get through it.

Don’t give in to the “I can’t do this” part of you.  You CAN do this.  You CAN survive.  You CAN move along.

Move along, like I know you CAN.

Even when your hope is gone, move along.

All you’ve got to keep is strong…move along.

Move along, like I know you do.

I do not know what you are going through, Teacher, but you CAN make it through it.  You CAN keep going.  You CAN move along.  So move along.

Keep your focus on your students.  Remember why you are here.  Remember that it is about changing your students’ lives and futures.  It is about them learning and learning to learn on their own.  It is all about them.  When you focus on the goal of your students and their needs, you CAN move along.

Move along.

I know you CAN.

You are awesome.  You do move along.  You get through the tough times.  Keep moving.  Keep going.  Keep teaching, Teacher.  You are amazing!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Theme Song

Freedom [when you let it go]


Dear Teacher,

Great Monday morning to you!  I know, there are very few times in the thick of the school year that we view Mondays as necessarily great…we are often being pulled from every angle and feeling like we are ten seconds from being ripped into pieces.  Monday only makes it worse because we look forward to the pulling starting over fresh and new.  It doesn’t have to be this way!

How do we keep ourselves together when everything wants us to fall apart, especially on a Monday?  That is what today and this week’s theme song is all about.  The best part is that I get to share one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists with you, and you probably have never heard of him or the song.  Get ready to be a fan.

Click play and read on (just in case you are new and didn’t know 🙂 ).  When you are done, you might want to go back and watch the video.  It is pretty cool.

Teacher, you have so much on your plate.  You have things that need to get done.  You have expectations to meet.  You have classroom management issues to deal with.  You have parents to call.  You have plans to plan and implement.  You have profession development to go to and show evidence of using and applying.  You have test to write, give, get data from, reflect on, and plan to use to differentiate and raise student achievement.  You have books to read, papers to grade, and Common Core to implement.

You have people constantly looking over your shoulder telling you what to do and who to be as a teacher.  You have parents who don’t think you are handling their child correctly.  You have administration analyzing your every word and move in the classroom.  You have curriculum specialists giving commentary on every strategy and technique you use and giving you tips and pointers on how do do things differently.  You have ever changing district, state, and federal mandates and standards that are to be followed to the “t” with little variation.

You have a life outside of school.  You have pressures from other places.  You have family.  You have friends.  You have a life…at least you try to have one.

You have students.  Students who need you to be more than just a implementer of plans.  They need you, the person.  They need your heart, soul, and mind to help them navigate through the storms of life and education.  They need a mentor.  They need a teacher.  They need you.

Students are why you do what you do.  Students are the key to education.  Students are the ends and the means.  Without them there are no standards, tests, data, professional development, or lesson plans.

Students are the heart of it all.  Students are your heart.  Students are why you are where you are.  Students make you a teacher.

You are pulled and yanked in a thousand directions every day.  You feel that weight the most on Sunday nights and Monday mornings.  The waves of the life of a teacher are constantly trying to pull you under.  The current is strongest at the beginning of the week.

What do you do?  How do you combat this?  How do you go against the flow that wants to drag you down?  How can you make a Monday feel great and something you look forward to seeing?

One word: STUDENTS,

We have to learn to to be brave enough to run into the flames of the fight to let every decision we make be completely centered on our students.  We have to train ourselves to let things go for the sake of our students.  They need to be the answer to every question that starts with “Why did you…”  Students, their hearts, and their minds need to be key.  Few people know them like you do, and you need to stand up and say what you think will work best for them.

It is hard, though.  It is hard to let go of some of the anxiety and fear of not meeting the expectations of others.  Not meeting deadlines.  Having to answer those hard “why” questions.  I can’t tell you how to do this for you.  I can tell you, though, that it is worth it.

I have been teaching long enough to know that expectations, standards, and mandates change.  The current of education moves with the latest and greatest ideas and research, but often it is a circular pattern that always comes back to best practices that have been around for a long time.  Tap into that and you will see that it always comes back to some of the same themes.  Follow those themes and you can keep up with the changes (I will try to write about some of those themes later).

I am not saying to rebel or not follow guidelines and mandates.  I am definitely not saying that.  I am just saying that you will start to remember why you love being a teacher when the students return to being your focus for all that you do.  And if you get off from the expectations set for you, make sure that your answer has something to do with the specific needs of your students.  That is what is key and paramount.

Let go of the fear.  Let go of the anxiety.  Let the students be the reason for all that you do.  Make them the goal.  Open up your heart and mind to letting them come first.  You will start to feel the freedom that comes from that.  You will see that everything comes back around.

You may have to answer questions or be “fussed” at from time to time.  Don’t let that worry you.  One day, when a student comes back and tells you the influence you had on them and how that changed their life, what are you going to remember?  Are you going to remember the lecture you were given or are you going to remember why you became a teacher?  I think I know the answer.

Let things go and let yourself make choices in your classroom and with your time that come out of love and care for your students.  I promise, when you let it go it will come right back to you.  You will make it through and be a better teacher for it!

Don’t be afraid to let go!

(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 are making such a difference in the lives of your students.  Keep going.  Don’t act out of fear but act out of love and concern for your students.  You will never regret it!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…In case you missed the announcement yesterday, I am very excited to announce the Motivational ABCs Poster/Word Wall now available in the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher TeachersPayTeachers Store!  Check it out, if you haven’t had the chance!  The image above is one of the printable posters in the set.

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.”