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

A Message for the Voices…


Dear Teacher,

Today’s note is not so much for you.  Today I want to talk to the voices.  The voices that surround you.  The voices in your head.  The voices that are causing you to doubt what it is that you do.

Well, really, I only have two words for those voices today.  It is quite an easy message for them.

Shut up.

Stop talking for just today.  Your opinion is not needed.  Your thoughts do not matter.  You “knowledge” is not required.  Not today.  Not right now.

Okay.  Now I have some quick words for you, Teacher.  I mean these from the bottom of my heart.  Lets these words hang in your mind today as you ignore the voices.

  • You are doing a great job!
  • You are, really, a good teacher.
  • The students are listening…even if you can’t tell yet.
  • The time that you are taking to do all that you do is worth it…especially taking the time set up quality experiences for those kids in your classroom.
  • You are reaching them…even the toughest ones.
  • What you are doing matters…you matter…so much more than it feels like sometimes.
  • Keep going.  The hard work will pay off.
  • The students may be reluctant, but don’t give up.  You are getting through.
  • Your instincts are right, trust them.
  • You are awesome, and I mean really, truly awesome.

Teacher, the voices sometimes matter.  However, it is okay to take a break from them and celebrate what you are doing right.  Let today be one of those days.  Let the voices be quiet to your heart today and then look around and feel good about the good that you are doing.  It is okay to be proud of yourself.  Do that today.  See what is going well and feel good about it.  It is okay.

Make today a day about seeing how good of a teacher you are.  There are enough days for seeing what you need to improve on.  Don’t look at those issues….not today.  Choose to only see the positive today.

You can do it.

Remember…quiet the voices and only hear “Good job.”

You are amazing.  You are awesome!  I am proud of you!  I believe in you!  Good job!  Now, keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Cheer Up, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Reflection

So, You’ve Had a Week from…Well, You Know…



 

Dear Teacher,

If you are like a lot of other teachers that I have talked to this week, you may have just had a pretty rough week.  It was pretty mediocre for me, but I have had a bad week or two recently, as well.

Fridays of bad weeks can be good and bad.  They are great because the week is over.  They really stink because you have to take stock of the week and figure out what went wrong.

If the week was bad enough, we probably lost our cool and did some things that we aren’t quite proud of…poor reactions, poor choices, etc…  Fridays like that are even worse.  We have to deal with the week and deal with ourselves.  Never, ever, ever fun.

So, for those that had a long week, let’s have a theme song post.  Click play and then read on.

Teacher, your job is hard.

You have so much to deal with every day.

It seems like the days that go bad, go bad in almost every way possible.

One bad day can lead into another…and another…and before you know it, you have had a bad week.

Bad weeks happen.  They happen to the best and worst of us.  They bring out the worst in us…but don’t forget, they also bring out the best of us.

“What do you mean, teacher-who-obviously-did-not-have-a-bad-week?”

I know that you don’t want to think about it today, at the end of your awful week, but bad days and weeks teach us more than the good ones.

  • We learn what doesn’t work.
  • We learn what some of our “triggers” are.
  • We learn what we need to avoid.
  • We learn that the students may nor have learned as we thought they did.

Not only that, weeks after bad weeks always seem to help us get stronger as a teacher.  We dig in, we find a way to keep moving and keep going, and we find ways to try to avoid weeks like we just had.

  • We learn new strategies because we had to work so hard just to get through the week.
  • We learn that we had resources that we did not know that we had.
  • We learn that we are stronger than we thought we were.
  • We learn that we have students that cared about our bad weeks (when they come and say that they are glad the next week is going better for us).
  • We learn that we have colleagues that actually do care about us (even if it is just one or two).
  • We learn that we love teaching as much as we thought we did, even though we hated it the week before (the bad week).

There is a silver lining, Teacher.  Even if you don’t see it now, it is there.

It is okay to bemoan your bad week.  It is human.  Hate this week.  Wish it never happened.  Lick your wounds and do what you need to do, just don’t stay there.

Find the strength.  Find a way.  Move on.  Use this week to become the awesome teacher that you are and can be.

Bad weeks suck, but we need them.  You can get through this.

And never forget…you are not there for you.  You are at your school and in your classroom for your students.

They matter most.

They are your motivation to get through this.

You can do it.

You are awesome!  I know this week was bad, but you can and will keep moving.  Even in this horrible week, you made a difference…even if you don’t know it now.  Keep going.  Never give up.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Reason for Teaching

The Only Thing That Matters Today


Dear Teacher,

I do not know the timing of school where you are from, but for me and my American teacher friends, it is pretty close to the first day of school.  That first day is for me today.  When is/was it for you?

We have so much to think about to get ready for the first days and weeks of school.  Sometimes it gets hard to manage all of the minutia of what needs to happen and get put together.  We juggle responsibilities.  We rearrange our rooms 17,000 times.  We work.  We sweat.  And we continue this up until the minute we get our fresh crop of students to help nurture and grow.

You may or may not be still in those preparation stages, but great job!  It is all worth it.  Never forget that the work you put in does pay dividends later as you work with your students.  All of the little things that seem important as you get ready really are important.  And you own them like a boss!  Great job!  Keep going if you haven’t had your first day yet!

However…

Sometimes the mountain of “stuff” we need to do cause us to lose focus…especially the closer that the day comes that those new faces will be grace the threshold of your classroom.  We can often get so bogged down by the things that we just have to get done that we forget who we are doing those things for.  I know that I get caught up in doing that almost every year.

This year I am making a concerted effort not to do that…and it is hard.  I still have things to do and the students are coming today!

This is why I am writing instead of working on any of those things here in the wee hours of the morning.

I want to remind myself of what is most important.

Two things: My students and today.

I am here for my students.  That is it.  Yes, I have stuff to teach them.  But I need to teach them because it is important for them to learn for success in the future.  My focus should always be framed by them.  My students.  They are what matters most.  And what matters most is that I connect with them and get to know them.  If I focus on that then they may just remember what it is that I have to teach them.

I must connect and built relationships with my students, especially here in the beginning of the year.  This is key.  This is what matters.  This is what is important.

And the other thing I have to remember is that I only have today to do.  Everyday all that I have is today.  I need to work on building those relationships every day and day by day.  That is what matters most.

I can’t waste a day.  I can’t waste a minute.  I must always be working on focusing on the students as I teach them and connecting with them as I do.

It is cliche, but it is really true that “students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  I need to care for my kiddos, get to know them, and always focus on what is best for them inside my classroom.

This is vital.  This is key.  This is what matters most!

How are you doing with this, Teacher?  Are you struggling to maintain focus on what matters, like me?   Don’t give up!  You are awesome!  I know that in the end your focus is on your students and what they need most from you.

I mean it when I say you are awesome, Teacher.  You truly, truly are!  You know your students are the most important part of what you do…and that you only have today to work on what is important.  Keep on doing what you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!  Have a great start to your year!

Love, Teacher

PS…Sorry about the editing issues.  I can’t figure them out, and I do have other things to do today.  🙂

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers

New Start – New Year


(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

I know that you haven’t heard from me in quite some time.  I am sorry for that.  Know that I am still here and that you are still awesome!  I haven’t given up on you and I haven’t given up on me.  Time away was needed, but now I am back.

I know that it is summer (for my Northern Hemisphere teacher friends), but I also know that you are a great teacher.  You are already thinking about next year.  You have had a few weeks of a break and now you are thinking about the students that will be sitting in the desks that sit in your classroom.  This is what makes you great.

You can’t stop your “teaching brain,” and this is a good thing.

The other night, I was playing Jenga with my son.  We had some nice rounds of moving the blocks, but in the end the tower always tumbled.

When I looked at the pieces after one long match, it hit me that no matter how the game went it always ended but no matter how it ended we can always rebuild and start again.

Isn’t that the same with life?

No matter how things go, things always end.  No matter how things end, we can always start again.

This applies even more so with teaching.  Jenga is a pretty great analogy to our profession, if you think about it.

We start the year as a strong tower, ready to go.  Through the year we go through times of being taken apart and put back together.  In the end, no matter what, we feel like a puddle of bricks (in some way or another) ready for a reboot.  We take the summer and rebuild so that we can start again.

Teacher, I don’t know how last year ended for you.  I don’t know what kind of mess your bricks are in.  I don’t know how worn your blocks are.  But you can rebuild.  You can start again.  You will start again.

Take the rest of the summer and try to build your tower stronger.  Relax.  Reflect.  Rebuild.  Think about what went right and what went wrong.  Look for what you could do better.  Research a little.  Read a lot.  Find new ways to do the old stuff.  Be a better tower…even if you know it will just be blocks and bricks at the end of the next year.

This is what you do.  This is who you are.  And you are AWESOME at it.  Keep going and never give up!

Build, Teacher.  Build.

Your are awesome!  I totally believe in you!  Have a great rest of the summer and build that tower better than ever!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Jenga
Posted in Challenge, Feedback, General Inspiration, Get Psyched!, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance

Fed Back and Tested (get back up, Teacher)


Made with http://www.mememaker.net.

Dear Teacher,

I don’t know about you, but yesterday was a rough one for me.  Not bad, so much, just rough.  You know those kind of days?

I gave a test.  I had high expectations.  It went horribly wrong.  My prediction of high averages were dashed on the rocks of reality.

I gave the students an opportunity to give me some feedback about behavior.  They rated me, themselves, and the class.  It is never nice to have to look into the mirror of perception!  Nothing surprised me too much, but it doesn’t feel good to know what you thought is true.

So here I am this morning left with two things to come to grips with:

  • The students didn’t learn what I thought they learned.
  • I have as much to work on in myself as I thought I did.

So, what do I do with that?  Do I beat myself up?  Do I wallow in it for a while?  Or do I pick my teacher hind parts up off the floor and get to work?

I have shared this quote before, but I love it and am going to share it again.  It is from Jaime Escalante, the teacher the move Stand and Deliver was about (I wrote about him here).  He said this:

“Life is not about how many times you fall down. It’s about how many times you get back up.”

It does not matter what a dose of real does to me.  It does not matter if it knocks me down.  It matters if I learn from it and change.  It matters if I find a way to make what I need to do or teach work.  It is more than an idea.  It is a necessity.

It is a necessity as a human being.  It is a necessity as an adult.  It is a necessity as a teacher.  But more than these, it is a necessity as a role model to my students.

I must get up.  I must brush myself up.  I must make changes.  I must try again.

I must because one day the must do the same.

It is not about me.

It is about them.

I will get up today.  I will brush myself off today.  I will make changes.  I will try again.

I will do these things because I am going to ask my students to do the same.  I ask them to do this every day.  They need to see me do it first.  They will see me do it today.

How about you?  What do you do when you are knocked down as a teacher?  How do you handle it?  How do you teach your students to get back up?  Do they see you do it?  Do the see you do it with grace?  Do they see you do it with style?  Will they and can they see you do it today?

I know that you get back up.  You are a teacher.  You have to.  Can you get back up better today than yesterday?  Can you show your students what it takes to bust through failure to get to success?

You are awesome!  You do get back up.  You do it with awesome.  Help you students to that with awesome today!  You are amazing!  You are making a difference!  Keep on teaching and getting back up, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

From venspired.com (shared by Edutopia).
Posted in Choose Positive, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

Two Wonderful Minutes


Garfield Friday – Image Found: http://www.xm105fm.com/2014/01/24/for-the-drive-show-on-your-friday/

Dear Teacher,

For two wonderful, glorious minutes I thought today was Friday.  Then like a slap to the face the shock set in that it was merely Thursday.  It was like a cold water wake up…but now I am away to my Thursday reality.

That reality is simple:

  • I am a teacher.
  • It is a school day.
  • I have a job to do.
  • I have minds to mold.
  • I have hearts with which to connect.
  • I have students’ needs to meet.
  • I have arrows to block from my students.
  • I have monsters that need to be fought for my students.
  • I have content to teach.
  • I have concepts to make real.
  • I have weight that I need to carry for others.
  • I have lessons that need to be lessened.
  • I have ideas that need to be thought.
  • I have thoughts that need to be communicated.
  • I have too much to do and prioritizing that needs to happen.
  • I have a future to affect.
  • I have a world to make better.
  • I have a difference to make.
  • I have students who need me.
  • I have me to be.
  • I am a teacher.

The thing is, no matter what day of the week it is.  You, I, and all teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world.  We need to embrace all that we are as educators.  I hear others (and myself) complain about all that we have to be for students.  I am not talking about standards and administration expectations…I mean all that we have to be for students.  We have to give them supplies.  We have to make sure the get to where they are going.  We have to remind, reteach, and re-give instructions until we  can’t take it anymore.  We have to be nurses.  We have to be moms and dads.  We have to be mentors.  We have to be protectors.  We have to be advocates.  We have to be forgiving.  We have to be patient.  Oh, and we have to be teachers.  We have so much that we have to be.  It is easy to be overwhelmed.

I need to spend more time embracing these all-too-many roles that I have.  I need to remember why I do what I do.  It is because I care for my students.  If they do not have what they need outside of school in these many parts we have to play, then we need to be those things and do so with pride.  This is why we are in this game to start with.  We are here to make a difference.  We need to make that difference and do so joyfully…even when we are too tired to do so much.

And even when it is not Friday.

You are so awesome.  I know you are better at embracing these things than I am.  One day I will be as good as you.  You are making that difference.  You are embracing those roles.  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching and making a difference, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Friday Note, General Inspiration, Get Psyched!, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, You Are Awesome!!!

‘Twas the day before break…


Dear Teacher,

I hope you have the best break ever!  You deserve it.

I am going to leave you with a little poem.  Have a happy holiday season and stay safe, get rest, and get ready for 2014!

A Break from Your Classoom

‘Twas the day before break, when all through the classroom,
Each creature was stirring; the teacher, too, I assume;
The students were antsy and moving here and there;
In hopes that the clock would move faster if they stare;
The administration was nestled all snug in their offices;
With having visions of no calls about students from all of us;
And you in your holiday sweater and matching cap,
Just want to settle your brain for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the hall there arose such a clatter,
You sprang from your chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the door you flew like a flash,
Spun doorknob and moved the door with a crash.
The fluorescent light from the hallway gave off quite a glow,
You looked left and right to see what you could know,
When the noise that had traveled to your wondering ear,
Helped you realize that it was the bell that you did hear.
The end of the day really did come so  quick,
It was just like a present from dear old St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles the students they came,
And they hustled and shouted, and you called them by name:
“Now, students! bye-bye students! Bye you wonderful children!
Bye, students!  Do be careful as you leave this dear buildin’!
To the top of the hallway! to the top of the hall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As papers and dust in their happy wake fly,
When they meet with their bus they jump in not shy;
And back to their houses with them the bus oh it flew
With all of the girls and boys, and their energy too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard you so true
Your prancing and dancing to your door as you did shoo.
You got in your car without turning around,
Down the parking lot you and your car were home-bound.
The school, in your rear view got smaller by  sight—
“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!”
Saw this on Facebook this morning…I had to use it!

You are awesome!  You are amazing!  You are a teacher!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

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