Posted in Uncategorized

Remember What You Are, Teacher…


Dear Teacher,

I am writing this mid-week, but who knows when you might read it. No matter what day of the week or time of the school year, I want you to remember something…

YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN ANYONE CAN EVER KNOW!

The world at large has no idea what it means to be in your classroom with your kids this year. They want to boil what you do down to a formula or thing that can be measured. But it is not about numbers or about data. It is about what is behind each set of eyes that look to you everyday from those seats in your room. You try to know what they need and work hard to make sure that happens. It is hard to do with everything else you are asked to do, but that is your goal and that is your heart.

Not going for political thought here, but the legislators and federal and state admin do not have a clue what it means to be you in front of your class and meeting the needs that are there each and every day. They say that they care for the students…and I am sure that in some way that they do…but you are the eyes, hands, and heart that is actually there for the students. That is what drives you…those kids in your room. You are more important than what comes in a bill or document from somewhere far away from where you are. I know that those things effect you, and it is right to speak up…and it is right to speak up because you are those eyes, hands, and heart there for students. Don’t lose heart!

I could go on and talk about how school admin does not get you every day, how your friends misunderstand what it is you truly do for a living, how parents do not always see what you are seeing, and how students do not yet comprehend the hard choices you make that are best for them in the long run…but I won’t. Just know that I know and get it…and I want to encourage you to keep doing what you do.

You are amazing! Do not let all of the stuff that has been piled up on you destroy you today. Take today for what it is and make the best today for your students. No matter what is on you, YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Keep on going! Keep on fighting! Keep on teaching, Teaching!

Love, Teacher

PS…If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments. If you like the post and it encouraged you, please share…there are a lot of hurting teachers out there right now! And if you there are certain types of posts you would like to see more of or less of, or if you have an idea for a post for me to do, please let me know…dearteacher@outlook.com.

Posted in Uncategorized

Why We Need You, Teacher


Dear Teacher,

No one can really measure your worth. I mean really. There is no way to distill everything you do or simplify it into a formula.

Plain and simple, you are there for students. You know what to do in most situations in your classroom most of the time. If you don’t, you look for answers and experiment with solutions.

Programs are good, Curriculum is vital. Tests can help us know progress. But they are not you!

You can scan the room on Monday morning and know who has had a rough weekend and may need a little break, something from your desk that makes them smile, or just a simple hug.

You know the fine art of convincing students to try harder. You are keen on when and how to coach them through failures to master a concept. You are a pro at inspiring students not used to working at a problem until they solve it to do just that…work with grit until they get there. You know that being a little upset, and sometimes a few tears, are a part of the process for students like that. You know when to help and when not to, it is one of your gifts.

You are aware of your students at all times. You know authentically where they are in the content and stages of learning it. You don’t always need a data wall to tell what learning and growth is happening at those desks and tables in your classroom. You just know. It is who you are. It is what you do. And you know how to push each one just a little deeper in and higher up in what they know and can do.

This image belongs to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher.  If you use, link back to www.dearteacherloveteacher.com or to this blog post directly.  Thank you!
This image belongs to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher. If you use, link back to http://www.dearteacherloveteacher.com or to this blog post directly. Thank you!

You, my Teacher friend, are a professional. You are good at what you do. Without you we just have programs, curriculum, and tests. But education is oh so much more than that. Students are oh so much more than that. They need oh so much more than that.

Students need you. The system needs you. Education needs you. We all need you.

Thank you for each and everything that you do. Seriously, thank you! Thank you for fighting for students and for what is right. Keep it up. You know the stakes. You are worth it. You are awesome. And, as always, you rock.

Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Uncategorized

Where Have All the Teachers Gone?


The hallway is clean and shiny as if the floors have just been waxed this morning. You hear your footsteps echo in click-clacks down the hall as you walk slowly and peer into the rooms through the windows on the doors. The rooms are empty, but today you have a strange sense of curiosity about what this place was like some time in the distant past.

Your parents told you stories about what school was like for them. How strange it must have been to have an actual person in the room leading the class in discussions and activities that happened in the room you were in with them. You can not even imagine. Even when you were in school, instruction happened more from a distance and interactions with the others there with you were few and far between.

You stop at a room that you heard used to be a science class. As you look into the room that has been filled with rows of console stations, probably 40-50 total, you think about what it might of looked liked with lab tables and equipment for real experimentation. Holy crap, it must have been so unsafe. You pause at the thought, and then smile. You bet it was fun.

You remember your mom telling you that one of her teachers once brought in a balloon. You can’t remember what you said she told you it was filled with, but it floated like a helium balloon you recall from childhood birthdays. She said that the teacher lit a match on a long pole and touched it to the balloon and it turned into a fireball. A small one, but a fireball, all the same. It was probably frightening. But still, again you smile, it was probably also amazing.

As you think about that, you also have a memory of your mom telling you about the time that same teacher brought her family a pizza one Friday night. What a nice person to be willing to do that. She said that her parents gave the teacher money. You don’t know why. She also told you that the teacher had on a hat of the pizza company. The guy must have really liked that pizza.

As you walk away, saddened a little, you think about how when you were a student, there were seldom times you really knew your teachers. They were in the room some of the time, but it was more about checking on progress than teaching you anything. You had your digital learning system doing most of that work, so teachers did not have to worry about that much. They were too busy to help you learn because the digital systems were still glitchy when you were in school and they needed to work out the kinks.

Besides, as your parents told you, most of the great teachers they had or knew about moved on from the world of working with students. They said they could not afford to do it anymore. Teaching was a job that did not pay well and had a lot of responsibility. That must be part of the reason the profession was phased out. Even when you were in school a lot of states did not even use the word anymore.

Your title, Educational Facilitation Technician, does suit what the role has become better, anyway. Your facility only requires six total to handle the 600-plus student load. Efficiency is key. There is no need for the extra effort, because the learning systems handle all of that.

Still, you think as you arrive at your small office to load the systems to the consoles in the room, you think about how it might have been to be a teacher. As you sit down and launch the program to the rooms on your hall, your wonder where all of the teachers went to and those that might have become one are doing in the world that you live in.

With a sigh, you sit and watch the code on your monitors and wait for the learning to begin.

Posted in End of the Year, Take Care of Yourself

Are We There Yet? Exhaustion and Last Days…


Dear Teacher,

It is drawing ever nearer to the last days of school (if you aren’t already there).  You are tired.  No…strike that.  You are completely and utterly exhausted.  This school year has done you in.  You are so done with all of the chaos and drama.

And you deserve to feel that way…it has been a TOUGH year.

You have made it through, but only barely.

The last weeks and days of school are a light at the end of the tunnel, and you feel like your students do right before the buses come.  You are just watching that clock.

Image Source: Wikimedia (Wikipedia)

You keep waiting for the seconds to tick down.  And they feel slow incredibly slow.  Why can’t it just be over.  You need it to be over.

Let me remind you, it is almost time.  You are almost there.

You need this summer…and summer’s coming, friend.  Summer is coming!

It is okay that you’re worn out right now.  If you weren’t, I would be worried that there is something wrong with you or if you might actually be a superhero…or alien…or both.  This year has been rough, and you should be tired in every way shape and form.

And for this reason, it is also okay to be excited about your coming “break” – even with all of the work you have to do eventually over the summer…it still counts as a break.  You get to recharge.  You get to relax.  You get to unwind from the stress of this year.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You have done well this year, my Teacher Friend.  You have made a difference this year, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.  You have earned the right to look forward to the summer.  You have my permission to watch the clock.  🙂

You are an amazingly awesome teacher!  You will always be.  Enjoy the rest of the year!  Keep on clock-watching…errr…I mean teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

Posted in A Call for Help, Teacher Testimony, Teaching Power

A Call for Help – Let’s Raise Our Teacher Voices


Dear Teacher,

I have been working on this letter to you in my head for over a week.  I just haven’t been sure what to say.  Today I decided the best way to start is just begin.  Pretty easy, really.

So I have a pretty big podcast addiction.  I love listening to them.  I really like shows that cause me to think.  And because of this, last week I heard something that has inspired me.

There is a choral composer/conductor, Eric Whitacre, who had an idea.  He put one of his songs out on the internet and gave a call on Youtube for people to sing their parts on video and send them to him.  With this, he posted a silent video of him conducting the song.  He had a huge response and put together a video of his “Virtual Choir.”  This is the first video…

There has been subsequent “Virtual Choir Concerts,” and with each one the response is bigger and bigger.  The latest have had thousands of singers from around the world.

Think about that.  Thousands of people from around the planet singing one song together.

And it is beautiful.

Very beautiful.

And I am not just talking about the songs.  They are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but the most beautiful thing about this is the thought.  People with a shared passion from different countries, different cultures, and different views all joining together for one song.  One thought.  One idea.  Beautiful.

This got me thinking.  Is there an application to this idea in education?  Can educators from around the country and even around the world come together and have one voice?  One message about something?  One heart and one passion?  And how would we share it?

The more I think about it, the more ideas I have, but it keeps coming back to the question, “What is our one thing as educators?”

And it hit me…we do have something beautiful to share.

This something is so beautiful that it might just change what people think about education…and maybe the way that the education system is viewed and legislated.

That beautiful thing is our students growth and change throughout the year.  It is our stories of the magic that happens in the classroom.  It is the knowledge of the changes that happen in the lives of our school kids when teaching and learning happens through hard work and relationships.  It is in sharing those amazing things that we see happen between day one and the last day of a school year.

We need to share these things.  We need to talk about them.  The world needs to hear them.

These are the things that cannot be standardized.  They do not show up on a test.  They cannot be measured.  They can not be quantified.

This is our song.

Let’s sing it together!

I want to start collecting stories.  I want to hear your voice and share it with the world.  Will you help me?

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

For now, I am going to collect the stories in written form via the contact form at the bottom of the post.  I may eventually move to video and/or audio format…but baby steps.  Lets start here.

What do you think?  Are you in?

So here is all you need to do.  I want to hear one of your magical classroom stories about student change and growth.  You know, those stories that you hold dear and that keep you going.  Tell the story how ever you would like.  Just remember to change names to protect privacy.  I will share the stories here.  Just let me know if you want to be kept anonymous or if I can share your name.  The contact form is at the bottom of the post.

Oh, you can share as many stories as you’d like…and please share this post far and wide so I can get as many stories as I can!

This is going to be awesome!  You are awesome.  I can’t wait to hear your stories!  You are an amazing teacher and I know that there are some beautiful things that have happened in your classroom.  Keep making those beautiful things happen and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Trial run…leave a story via Google Voicemail: (864) 660-3858).

 

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk

An Open Letter to Teachers…Don’t Lose Hope


(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

You are beat up and beat down.  You are worn out.  You are worn down.  This has been one of the toughest and roughest years of your career.

You don’t know if you can do this anymore.

Somewhere in and through the stress of students, parents, administration, and the system, you have lost sight of why you are doing this.  You don’t see the difference you intended to make.  You can’t see the forest.  You can’t see the trees.  You only see dwindling patience, one more student that doesn’t have a pencil, and another email about lesson plans that you haven’t turned in yet.

You are at the end of your rope and it is becoming more and more tempting to just let go.

You are losing your grip.

While you contemplate how much the fall will hurt, can I just tell you something…well, a few somethings?

First thing that you need to know is that you are absolutely, one hundred and fifty percent not alone.  More teachers feel this way this year than don’t, I think.  It is a common thought and feeling.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Even if it doesn’t fee like it, other teachers are going through exactly what you are right now.  Probably other teachers in your school…most likely the teacher in the room next door.

I know it is kind of messed up that a lot of teachers are in the same boat…but at least you don’t have to be alone in this.

And that is great, but what do we do about it?

We need to remember that the education system is not why we got into this business…we went through the trouble of becoming a teacher because we actually care about students and their future.  The system is what is wearing us out, but the students are who are keep us in.

Unfortunately, we are bound by the system.  How do we work within it to make the biggest difference in the lives of those learners in our classrooms?

I think it all comes down to spending a bit of time before each school day remembering why we teach.  It means thinking about each student (or some of them each day, if you teach multiple classes).  We have to remember that each of those souls are people and that we actually care about them and where they are going in life.

If we do that, it will lead us to think more carefully about our decisions in the classroom.  We will be driven to take stands for what is best for students.  We will fight for what is right.  We will truly differentiate for each child and what they need from us.

As that happens, our teacher heart will start to beat again.  We will find our passion again for teaching.  We will be ready to change the world all over again.

I know this is all easier said than done, but I think it is time we start doing what we know needs to be done.  I think it is time to be brave and bold…for our students good and for ours.

You are a TEACHER!  You actually do know what you are doing most of the time.  You know your students and care about their lives.  You know how to make classroom decisions.  You are courageous!  You are strong!  You are intelligent!  You matter to the future of your students and you are making a difference!

Remember why you do what you do and that you are not alone in this.  Be brave and do what needs to be done.  You will be happier in the long-run because you are doing what are made for!

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are amazing!  You are awesome!  Thank you for all that you do!  Remember that you can do anything for a year, and this year is almost done.  You’ve got this!  Don’t give up!  Keep on persevering and keep on teaching, Teacher!  You rock!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes


Dear Teacher,

I know that is has been a long time since I have written to you.  It has been quite a school year, and I am entering a time of transition.  Before I get to that, let’s talk about this past year.

How did it turn out for you?  How did everything go?  If you are reading this, you made it out alive, so that is something.  🙂

Image: http://www.firstgradenest.com/

It was quite a year for me.  There is not one word to describe it.  It was challenging.  It was trying.  It was stressful.  It was enlightening.  It was strange.  It was insightful.  It was life-changing.  It was.  It just was.

I don’t know that I had a more difficult year with students.  It wasn’t their behavior so much as it was their attitude towards learning.  In a time when the stakes could not be higher for students to show growth, it seemed like my students were the least interested in growing.  Was it like that for you this year?

That made teaching rough.  I believe in students having the responsibility of learning and turning that responsibility over to them throughout the year.  So many did not want to take those reigns from me.  My classroom was student-centered, but I found that I wound up in the center so many times just to get through content.

I learned a lot about motivating students and a lot about motivating myself.  How do I keep going with the idea of being brain-centered and student-centered when it seems like I am gaining so little ground.  I learned to keep my head down and keep going down the road and trusting what I know is right for my students…but it was hard.  Very hard.  That is one of the reasons that I wrote so little to you this year.

But I made it.

You made it.

We made it!

I want to encourage you, Teacher.  If it was a hard year for you, as it was for me, there is hope.  You can do anything for a year and then you can look forward to the next.  You know what is right for your students, even if they do not.  Take some time and reflect this summer.  What went right?  What went wrong?  Where do you need to dig in and keep going?  What are some things you can let go of next year?

Keep on keeping on.  Do what you know is right.  Take a stand for what needs to be stood up for.  Be the awesome teacher that you are.

Not every year will go well.  Sometimes there will be a string of bad years.  Sometimes your working environment will be challenging.  Sometimes you will want to pack it in.

Remember one thing, though.

Your students need you.  They really do.

If you keep doing what is right, day after day and year after year, things will eventually go right for you in ways that you know you are going in the right direction.  Trust me.

wpid-storagesdcard0MemesAwesome-High-School-Teacher.jpg.jpg

A little about my life and transitions…

After nine years of trying to be the best teacher that can be at a Title I school and having strings of difficult years, there has been a change.  My hard work was noticed.  I was hired to work at my district’s science center.  I will be moving out of the traditional classroom and be teaching students from all over my district and my area throughout the year.

It was difficult to pack up and leave my school for good after being there for so long…there were some tears…but I know that this is right.  I am going to love every minute of my new job and I will be able to help more students fall in love with learning and help other teachers learn new ways to foster that love in students, too.

That being said, that leaves this blog in a state of flux.  I need a little feedback here.

Since I will no longer be in the normal classroom, will you still accept my encouragement and advice here?  How can I stay current with the struggles that you have in your classroom?  How can I change the format of the blog to help you stay encouraged?

One thing I know that I can do is offer for you to email and let me know of a struggle in the classroom you are having.  I can write directly to what you are going through here (keeping out any personal information).  Would that be a helpful aspect to this blog?  (My email is dearteacher@outlook.com.)

Let me know any ideas that you have!  Thanks!

Teacher, take some time for yourself this summer.  Find ways to recharge and heal from the year.  Don’t spend too much time getting ready for the next round.  Just be for a while.  Just be.

Image: http://www.teachjunkie.com

You are so awesome!  I know that next year will be even better than this one was!  Keep on doing what is right and keep on teaching, teacher!

Love, Teacher