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

 

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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, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Perseverance

The Real Key to Change in Education



Dear Teacher,

We live in a world that is trying to figure out how to change the state of education.  Common Core this.  Latest, greatest PD that.  Technology.  Strategies. Best practices.

Name your teaching cliche.

People who do not teach or haven’t taught in a while tell us how we need to teach.

Not that any of what I mentioned is necessarily bad…that is not my point.  There is just so much that we are asked and told to do.  Sometimes we are even treated as if we don’t have a clue about how to teach.

It can be overwhelming.  It can be frustrating.  It can be irritating.

Trust me, I know.  I live it every day, just like you.

But, if I may, let me encourage you with one thought.

You know something that the education problem-solvers do not know.  It is the one thing that will make more of a difference than any work of legislation or professional development breakthrough.

You know your students.

You see them every day.  You talk to them.  You see how they work.  You know their struggles.  You know their names.  You know their parents.  You know their personalities.  You know them.

You know them like few others do.

This is what makes you special.  This is what gives you the edge.  This is how you will change education.

Don’t be afraid to make choices based on what you know…your students.  Have courage to make a stand when it needs to be made.  Be brave and do what needs to be done.

You know your students.  You know what they need.  You know how to get things done.  Get them done.  Make a change!

You are smart, experienced, and capable, Teacher.  You can do this.  Listen to the voices out there, but take everything with a grain of salt.  You can do this.  You can make the change that needs to be made in the lives of your students.  You really can make a difference.  Get out there and make it!

You are awesome.  You are the key to educational change.  Go in confidence today!  You’ve got this.  You are amazing!  Change those students’ lives!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic, Reason for Teaching, You Are Awesome!!!

Ordinary Teaching Makes Extraordinary Teachers


Dear Teacher,

I don’t know what kind of day you have had or week you are having, but I want to encourage you.  Keep doing those every day things that you do.  The every-day adds up.  It is the day-to-day that builds into your awesomeness.

(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) ... oh, and this was made using www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!
(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) … oh, and this was made using http://www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!

You don’t hear “thank you” enough.  So let me thank you.

Thank you, Teacher.  You do what needs to be done.  You are changing the future one day at a time.  You are awesome!  Never give up!  Keep on teaching and turning the ordinary into extraordinary!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note from Student, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Picture Note, Poster/Graphic, Thank You!, You Are Awesome!!!

(Unspoken) Words from Your Students


Dear Teacher,

You are amazing.  You know that, right?  You give your students what they need before they need it.  Almost like magic!

You work hard.  You make choices for the best that students disagree with.  You are patient.  You are kind.  You are nice.  Even when you don’t feel like you can be.

You will seldom be thanked…especially by the toughest of students.

They will appreciate what you have done and are doing…one day.

They do not always have the words now to tell you.

So…this note is for you.  Here are the words (unspoken) that your students aren’t ready or can’t say yet.  They are still true.

Take them to heart.  Be encouraged.  Let a smile rise to your lips.  It is okay.  You can feel the pride.  You deserve it!

(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) ... oh, and this was made using www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!
(c)DearTeacherLT2014 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher) … oh, and this was made using http://www.piktochart.com, check them out if you want to make cool infograpics!

Don’t give up!  Do all that you do and keep doing it well.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!  You are AWESOME!

Love, Teacher

PS…Pass this one one to a teacher that you know needs to hear this!  Also, please comment with a story about a time a student has been able to thank you for your hard work for them.  🙂

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

It’s Go Time…


Dear Teacher,

Movie break.  This one of my favorite scenes from the movie Tommy Boy.  Give it a quick watch and then read.  I promise, there is a point.  

“Why did I just watch this?”

I will be honest, when I went to write, I had this idea of writing about Monday being “Go Time” for teachers and I went looking for the scene when it was said in this movie.  However, watching the clip brought a message to mind for me that I need to hear (even if it is hearing it from myself).  This clip has a lot to do with teaching.

So often we feel like things are going well in a class or all of our classes.  We have done all of the right things, as far as we know.  We are using the best strategies.  We are integrating.  We are differentiating.  We are rigorizing (yes, I just made up a word).  We are doing everything a teacher should be doing…then…

BOOM!

Something hits us out of left field and destroys the classroom peace and joy that we thought we had.  It could be a student meltdown.  It could be a parent issue.  I could be an administration situation.  It could be a number of things that suddenly send us in a tailspin and weave us all over our little teaching road.

Before we know it we are in a fight for our teaching lives.

Then the chaos dies down.

We survived.

The dust settles.

Blame gets assigned.

Usually, the fight is with ourselves.  What did we do wrong?  What could we have done different?  Why did we not think of the issue that happened?  So on and so on and so on.

Sometimes the fight is with others.  A power struggle with students.  A disagreement with parents.  An accusation from administration or other teachers.

Who ever the fight is with, it usually starts at the blame game.

The part of the scene that hits me the most is when Tommy said, “I am trying my best.  I am not my dad.”

How often do we feel that way?  Okay, probably not the “dad” part, but we do compare ourselves to others, especially to the teachers that seem to make being a great teacher look easy.

When we get to that point where we feel like we can’t do better than we are because we are trying “our best” is when we need to pause, take a deep breath, and think before we act. 

This is where we are most defensive.  Because of that, we are also at the point when we can be the most stupid.  In this movie scene there was a literal fight.  But in teaching we can make bad choices when we feel this way…choices we may regret later.

Our “go time” needs to be different.

We need to make choices that will help and not hurt the situation.  Choices that we can learn from.  Choices that our students will see and learn from.  Choices that will help us not get to this point in the future.

Sorry for the vagueness here, but every has different situations and triggers that get us to this point in teaching on any given day.

Luckily, the solutions are pretty much the same for most scenarios.  

There are some steps to take to help us get in the right state of mind.

  1. Like I said, pause and breathe.  Most of the time, reacting immediately leads to those poor choices mentioned.
  2. Remind yourself that it is not as bad as it feels.  In the moment, things are blown out of proportion.  You need to keep them in perspective…even if the other person/people isn’t/aren’t.  When everything is sorted out in the end, you never regret having kept thing in perspective…but you almost always regret not doing this.
  3. Remember why you teach.  When the going gets tough, it is easy to forget that you actually love teaching.  Look for the silver lining or just remember that teaching is your passion…the little hiccups to teaching are always short and small in the long run.
  4. Take as much time as you can.  Delay making a decision or action on the situation as long as you can.  Be like the Ents in Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The Ents are tree-based characters and they are known for the lack of moving quickly.  They try to never be hasty.  One of their leaders, Treebeard, said in the book The Two Towers, “But I spoke hastily. We must not be hasty. I have become too hot. I must cool myself and think; for it is easier to shout stop! than to do it.”  When you move to quickly, your choices lead to more.  Stop and stay stopped before you move.  It really is much easier to say stop than actually do it once you are moving.
  5. Put the students and their needs first.  When you come to decision time, focus on the student/students.  What do they need most from the situation.  How can you turn a negative into a positive for them.

If you try to take these steps, your “go time” will be well thought out and meaningful in the end for all that are involved.

Teacher, things come up.  We face hard times.  Never forget that you love teaching, and the hard times never last forever.  The tough things will pass eventually.  Keep on teaching your teaching best, even in spite of the difficulties sometimes.

You are so awesome!  I know that the challenges don’t keep you down long.  I know that with every “go time” you have you get better and better at doing them well.  I sincerely hope that you have the best day ever!  Never give up and always keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher