Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk, Theme Song

[it’s] The Climb


Dear Teacher,

Can you tell with the dramatic decrease in posts that it has been a busy start to my new school year?  New school years are always hectic, but even more so when there is a drastic change to what or how you are teaching.  This is kind of what today’s post is about.  However, first things first.  It is Monday, so it means this is a theme song post.

This past week, for me, is more than just the start of a new school year.  Last week marked a change in how I teach.  This summer I did a lot of work to learn more about teaching/learning and best practices for making that transaction of teaching and learning happen more effectively for me and my students.  I found out a lot of things that need to change, I planned  ways to make those changes, and last Wednesday was where the rubber met the road with it all.

I have made two major changes.  I am teaching through the use of Problem Based Learning units, and I am using brain-based learning strategies for my actual instruction.  This are both huge shifts in how I teach.  Not that I was not student-centered before, but these two things are making me far more intentional about anything and everything I do in the classroom.

This transition started with a long look in the mirror.  I had to stop pointing fingers about the lack of improvement for some of my students.  I had to take responsibility for my side of the teaching/learning relationship.  This drove me to look and ask for help.  I did this in a variety of ways, but something that kept coming up was Problem Based Learning (PBL) and brain-based strategies.  So I spent time learning about both of these.

I was, in essence, driven back to the drawing board.  In a lot of ways, I started over with how I thought about my role as a teacher, my students’ roles as learners, and what my classroom should look and feel like.  I made strides with changing these things.  I redesigned my classroom, my style of teaching, and how I set up the dynamics of lessons and units.  I put a lot of effort into this over the summer.

Last week, it all began.  This song pretty much sums up my experience.

It was hard to constantly remind myself of the changes that I am making.  I had to constantly rethink every interaction and transition.  I had to remember to keep each activity targeted and intentional.  I had to keep my mind on the fact that students that were not engaged might be a sign of something that I need to adjust in the classroom.  I had to be more proactive about every situation and potential conflict.

It got easier throughout the week, but it was difficult and tiring.  I came in early every day and stayed late.  I reflected and took mental notes.  I made small adjustments moment by moment, depending on the need.  It very much was a climb.

Did I lose some battles with myself?  Sure.  Did I get tired and worn out?  Of course.  Did I lose sight of my goals from time to time?  Yes.  Did I want to give up and slide back down the mountain every once in a while?  Affirmative.  Did I give up?  NO.  Did I keep climbing?  YES.

Change is about the climb.  It is about moving in the right direction.  Are we always going to win?  No, we aren’t.  Is going to be work, and hard work at that?  Yes, you know that it is.  It is the work and difficulties that actually change us.  We learn from failures more than successes.  When we have to backtrack and start again, we know what not to do and can do better the next time.

Becoming the teacher we can be is difficult.  But we need to keep on moving.  We need to keep on climbing.  As we climb, we are becoming more and more of the teacher that we need to be for our students.  We choose a destination, but it is the climb that makes us better.  Reaching the goal is not the ultimate success.  Being the person that we will become to meet that goal is the true success.  Change is the highest achievement.  The climb is what causes this change.

You are awesome!  I know that you are striving to make the changes that you need to make for the betterment of your students!  I know that you will keep working to make those changes!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and climb on!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Get Psyched!, Pep Talk, Theme Song, You Are Awesome!!!

It’s My Life [and my school year]


(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,

Okay, I know that you may or may not be starting the new school year when you read this.  However, there is a good chance that you are, because most of the readers of this blog are from the US.  If you are not starting the new school year, you may still find some motivation here in this post, so read on.  I hope it will be worth your time!

This is a theme song post; you know the procedures by now, I hope!  Click play and then start reading when the music starts!

This is it, Teacher.  A new school year is upon you.  Are you ready?  Are you nervous?  Are you anxious?  Are you excited?  Or are you, like me, a jumble and mix of all three and then some?

What are your plans for the year?  I don’t mean unit and lesson plans.  I mean what are your plans in the terms of what you want the school year to look like?  Do you have those kind of plans?  Do you have goals, hopes, and dreams for what the school year could be like?  I don’t mean the kind of hopes and dreams that you think, “That would be nice but it won’t happen.”  I mean the kind of hopes and dreams that you believe in so much that it gets you up in the morning and you will wear yourself out to make happen?

A lot of us had those kind of plans when we first started teaching.  Unfortunately, the longer you teach the more that kind of thinking fades.  Lofty and slightly unrealistic goals get beat out of you by the realities of teaching.  It does happen slowly, thank goodness, but our hopes erode over the years.

Drip by drip, the stress and pressure of teaching starts to wear on you.  It breaks down the hope.  It washes some of the dreaming away.  It dims the light that used to shine so bright.

Sometimes this gets to the point that the school year happens to you.  You get stuck in a form of “survival mode” that you stay in just to make it through.  You love and do your best with your students, but the spark is faded or gone.  You go along with the waves and currents of the year because you have so little fight left.  It is a normal part of teaching for so many of us.  Don’t feel bad if you have been there or are there.  There is hope!

What is that hope, Mr. Dear Teacher/Love Teacher?

The hope is that IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

Most of this is going to be a mental exercise, so I know that you may or may not see this as a little bit of “pie in the sky hooey,” but you just have to change your thinking!  You have to believe that this year is going to be different.  This year will be the change and you will never be the same teacher again!  You have to stand firm and resolute.  You have have to stand tall, look this new school year in the eye, and be determined that you are going to happen to the year and the year is not just going to happen to you!

Your attitude has to change.

Remember way back to when you first started out.  Remember those wild-eyed dreams that you had.  Remember the teacher that you were determined to be.  Remember how you were going to take the world by storm and change the lives of your students for the better.

Have that image and those thoughts in your head, and then look in the mirror and tell yourself that it is not too late.  You know why?  It is because, no matter how long that you have been teaching, IT IS NOT TOO LATE!  You can still be that teacher!  You can still meet those goals!

The best part is that the longer you have been teaching, the more know-how and experience you have to make those things happen and be that teacher you wanted to be.  You just have to purpose yourself to do so!  And you can!  You can because you are awesome!

The past does not matter.  No matter the teacher you have been, you can still be the teacher you always wanted to be!  Find a way to do it.  Hang out with those teachers that are closest to what you dreamed of being.  Learn from them.  Read, read, read!  There are so many sources for strategies and ideas!  I will post some of those sources soon.  Get to know your students.  Find out what they think they need from you as a teacher.  Try to become the teacher that they need!

Teacher, YOU CAN DO THIS!

It is your teaching life.  It is your year.  It is now or never.  Teach like your alive!  You are alive!  You can be the great teacher you wanted to be or that people think you are and you don’t believe them.  It is never too late!

BE AWESOME!  MAKE THIS YEAR AWESOME!  DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES!  YOU CAN BECAUSE YOU ARE AMAZING!  KEEP ON TEACHING, TEACHER!

This is your year, and don’t you forget it!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Best of Dear Teacher/Love Teacher, Theme Song, You Are Awesome!!!

The Best of the Weekly Theme Songs


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

Dear Teacher,

For me, this is the last full week before teachers go back to school for the new year.  I have so much planning and other things that I want to get done!  I think I am going to have to chill it with the blog for this week.  So…this week will be the “Best of Dear Teacher/Love Teacher.”  I am going to post links to several posts from the last three months, and then I am going to give you a challenge.  I want you to pick your favorite, share why it is your favorite, and then share it everywhere that you can (Edmodo, Facebook, Twitter, etc…).

Today is the best of the weekly theme songs.  Because there have not been that many, I am going to share a link to all of them.  Which is your favorite?

My favorite is Stronger.  That song has been in my head a lot since I found out the results of the State Tests.  I know that I can use the unmet expectations as fuel for next year.  It is driving me to work harder to have things together for my students and to use what I have learned to be more effective in years to come.  I am stronger, and I will continue to get stronger!

Which is your favorite?  Why?  Go out and share the encouragement!

You are awesome!  You are amazing!  This year will be the best one yet, I just know it!  Keep on teaching and keep on getting stronger, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…I have an idea.  I want to compile stories about teachers who have made a difference in peoples’ lives.  It can be a story or a “Dear Teacher ___________” thank you letter.  I want to share them on here and maybe in a couple of other ways (possibly a book).  If you are interested, email dearteacher@outlook.com and put “Teacher Story” or “Teacher Thank You Letter” in the subject.  Thanks.  I am excited about this project!

Posted in Get Psyched!, Pep Talk, Theme Song

[we and our students are] Meant to Live


(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,

Good morning.  It is Monday.  You know what that means!  Weekly theme song.  This one is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands.  I am not sure if that is telling too much about me out not!  🙂  I picked this week’s song because I am pumped up.  I got through some difficult mental/emotional hiccups last week after a school meeting and learning the state test results last week, and now all of that is fuel for my personal teaching change and to help my students to fly next year!  I know I can raise them (and me) up to more than they (and I) could be without a little change in me!

Without further ado.  Click play (and skip the add if one comes up) and then keep reading.

Teacher, where ever you might be in the school year.  You may be, like me, in the summer and it is approaching the end and a new school year is looming larger and larger on the horizon.  You might be in the throes of the school year with things going great or not so great.  You may be in another place in the school year, I don’t know.

And I don’t know how you are feeling.  Are you excited?  Are things going well?  Are plans coming together and next year is starting to take shape?  Are you students doing well and all of your hard work and planning is paying off?  Or are you on the other side?  Are you terrified or extremely nervous about the new school year and things are not coming together for you?  Are you falling a part?  Is the school year not going so well?  Is all of your hard work and planning looking like a waste of time and your students are just not getting it?  Do they just not want to get it?

You most likely have a mixed bag.  That seems to be how most of us spend the school year.  A little from columns A, B, C, and D.  Some things are going well and your feeling good about how things look.  Other areas are not so good and you are a stressful wreck.  And with other factors you are just kind of in the middle.  This is how I spend most of the school year and summer.  I think we all do.  We are teachers.  We find a balance somehow!

No matter where you may be and how you may feel, I want you to stop, breathe, and relax.  Now, think of the biggest boldest, most impossible sounding goals you can have for yourself, your classroom, and your students.  Dream big.  Where do you wish you and your students could be as teachers and learners?  Who do you wish you could be as a teacher?  What would you be doing?  Who do you wish your students could be as learners and scholars?  What is your most impossible. yet semi-realistic goal that you would like your students to meet?  Teacher, I am serious.  Think of one or two gaudy goals for you and your students (“gaudy goals” are an idea from the training I went to a couple of weeks ago).  If you don’t have something to shoot for, how do you know where you are aiming?

Now that you have a goal in mind, find a way to get there.  I am serious.  What can you change?  What can you do?  Pick a handful of small things that you can do to try to move and find a path to those big, impossible sounding dreams.  Everything was impossible for the first time they were done.  There are some awesome examples of teachers who have done this and found their way to make the dreams reality.  I hope to highlight some of them soon, but that doesn’t matter right now because you could be one of those teachers.  Dreams are just dreams until we make them real.  How can you make your dreams and goals the real world for you and your students?

Teacher, you and your students are meant for so much more.  Do not be happy where you are with your students, where ever that may be.  You are meant to live for something more.  Your students are meant to live for something more.  Be something more.  Move your students on to be something more.  You can do it!  You can be more!  Go be more!  Don’t ride this feeling off.  I know that something stirred inside of you while you thought of bigger dreams.  Do it!  Work at it!  Make something more happen.  Be the something more for yourself, your students, and your school!  You are something more.  Prove it this week!

You are awesome!  You are the more!  I know you will show it to yourself and the world at-large this week!  Be the teacher you know that you always could be.  Go big this week!  I mean it!  You are amazing!  You will make a difference this week, and every week!  Keep on going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…For those of you who use Edmodo, I have started an Edmodo Group for the daily updates.

Posted in Get Psyched!, Theme Song, You Are Awesome!!!

(your students are) Holding Out for a Hero


Dear Teacher,

I have decided to make Monday morning posts about motivation and getting you psyched up for the week.  As you saw last Monday, I think music and theme songs a great way to do this.  Today I am going to mix that with another thing that jacks me up and gets me motivated to do great things…superhero movies!  I may be showing a little bit of my inner-geek with this, but I can’t help it.  Superhero movies make me want to go out and do awesome things!  This is a theme song that you might want to watch after you get done reading…but go ahead and have it playing while you read the rest of the post.  🙂

Teacher, you are a superhero with superpowers.  You see things other people don’t see.  You can think in ways other people don’t think. You do feats of planning and preparation that other people could not keep up with.  You grade with heart…looking for more than what was and wasn’t correct, you look for what needs to be worked on and honed in each student.  You do great and amazing things…even if other people do not always see you do them.

Your students need a hero!  They need someone to fight for them.  They need someone to take a stand for them.  They need someone who will not settle for mediocrity in them.  They need someone to see the potential in them and help them live up to that potential!  They need you, Super Teacher.

Be that hero for your students…

  • Plan like you mean it and know you are doing something that needs to be done for your students.  This goes double for teachers on summer break…PLAN!  You are giving yourself weapons to fight with for next year.  You are honing your superpowers!  Plan like you are a hero in training!
  •  Love on your students.  Get to know them.  When you know them, you are so much more invested in the fights you need to fight for them!  Summer teachers, plan for getting to know your kids and investing in their lives…the time planning for this will pay off in big dividends when you are more invested in each student.
  • Use your gifts and talents.  Do what you do well, and keep on doing it.  Play to your strengths and plan for ways to do so.
  • FIGHT!!  Fight for your students.  Fight for what is right.  Do what you know is right.  Fight for what you need to help your students succeed.
  • Never give up!  When the fight is tough and the going is rough, DO NOT GIVE UP!  Be the hero and keep fighting.  It will pay off!

You are a hero and you are awesome!  You do amazing things…keep doing them.  Fight hard to be the hero your students need.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway contest on the Facebook Page.  It is over at midnight on Friday, July 5th, 2013.