Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Reason for Teaching, Teaching Power, You Are Awesome!!!

A Little More Magic…


Dear Teacher,

Last week I wrote to you about holding on to the magic that makes you special as a teacher.  It is your magic that keeps your students engaged.  It is one of the keys to avoiding burnout (at least it can make the burnout take longer).  It is what you live for as a teacher when your students minds are blown and they are left with the “aha” moments of learning that stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Yes, your personal magic is pretty important, and you better hang on to it for dear teaching life!

So…

How do you tap into your personal teaching magic and how do you develop it deeper and create more?

As far as the magic that you already contain in the classroom goes, I can’t really help you from here.  You have to reflect and think about what it is that the students latch on to and help them connect with you.  Is it you dynamic story-telling?  Is it how you build relationships?  Is it how you know just what to say to make someone feel better about life?  Is it how you connect with students that no one else can?  Is it how you can make the most mundane and boring subjects come to life?  I don’t know, but you can find out if you aren’t sure.

Talk to students.

Take a survey.

Ask other teachers what they hear from students about you.

You may not always like what you hear, but you might be surprised on what you find out students like about you.  What they like is probably tied to your magical side.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

It can be rough sometimes, but doing the investigative work will help you find what you can build on to make the magic happen time and time again in your class.

Once you find out, then research.

Look for teachers that are good at the same things, and find out what they do and how they use their magic.  Magicians learn from magicians and then make the magic their own.  Teachers need to do the same.

Research online.  Are there teachers and non-teachers that are good at the same brand of magic?  What do they do?  How do they use their magic in life and work?  What makes them magical?  How can you replicate and adapt that style of magic for your classroom and students?

Lastly, look for ways to personalize your magic and make it meaningful to your specific students.  How can you involve them?  How can you make them a part of your “show?”  Can you have students share in your magic?  Can they be your magician’s assistants?  Can you develop some magic apprentices?

Image: Wikipedia Commons

I know I am talking in vagaries right now, but that is all I can do because personal magic is, well, personal.  It is different from teacher to teacher and class to class.  I hope this made sense to you, even so.

I wanted to write a little about how to find more personal magic than you already know, but I think I will save that for later this week.  A lot of it is tied to you and what interests you in life.  I found out about something amazing this weekend that is directly tied to personal magic, but I want to make it a post all on its own.  I will leave you with a link and let you make the connection to personal magic on your own until I am able to write further about it.

Star Wars in the Classroom

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (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 magical.  You do reach your students.  You are making a difference!  I know you are…even when you don’t feel like it.  Never give up and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

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Posted in General Inspiration, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Perseverance, You Are Awesome!!!

What You Can’t Afford to Lose


Dear Teacher,

I am sorry that I have had little to no time to write to you this school year.  Like you, I have been pulled in a thousand different directions today, and it has taken everything inside of me to keep focused on the one thing that matters: my students.  It has beat me up to do this, but I think that, most days, I have kept that focus.

And, also like you, I am tired.

I do not always have the energy to be the awesome, dynamic teacher that I can be.  I have kept to my commitment to pursuing the goal of my students learning and learning how to learn on their own, but I have lost a little bit of the spark that makes me a good teacher some days.  The exhaustion of keeping up with all of the spinning plates that we are given makes that hard…if not impossible from time-to-time.

Spinning Plates Image: Wikipedia Commons

We lose some of what makes us great.  It happens to us all.  It is inevitable.  It is real life.

So what do we do about it?

I do not think that we can avoid losing some of our teacher “fire.”  It is an unavoidable reality.

No, I do not think that keeping all of our teacher flames burning is the key here.  No.  If we try to do that.  We burn out and we are not much good for anyone.

No, keeping a large bonfire of teaching enthusiasm is not what you or I need to strive for…not at all.

I think what we need to do is keep the right embers burning.  If we maintain intensity on the right aspects of teaching, we will avoid flaming out and be able to rekindle our fires once the smoke clears.

(Am I overusing the analogy?  Probably.  But I press on.)

Burning Embers Image: Wikipedia Commons

So what do we make sure that we do not lose in the battle of every day teaching life?

Some of it will be different from teacher to teacher, grade to grade, state to state, and person to person, but there is definitely one thing that makes all of the difference in the world for our students that I do not think any of us can afford to lose.  It hit me this year as I had to reflect after some very difficult weeks.

And what is that “one thing,” Teacher?

It is very simple, difficult, easy, and impossible…all at once.

Magic.

You need to keep the magic.

Image: openclipart.org

The magic of teaching is what will keep bringing your students (and most definitely you) back for more over and over again, no matter how hard the going gets.

“What do you mean by magic?”

Magic is the mystical side of teaching.  It is the not-so-quantifiable relationship between wonder, teaching, and learning.  It is the “Aha-moment,” curiosity, and awe that students can have when they are truly engaged in learning about language, math, science, and history.  It is the amazement factor of teaching.  Those moments when the students are wide-eyed and hanging on every moment in your classroom and every word that you say.  It is when sighs of frustration ring through your room when the students hear the bell.

This is the magic of teaching.

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

It is never every minute in your class, nor should it be.  These are the crescendos to the momentum that you build with every experience that you give your students.  They are what you build up to as you plan and teach.  It is the moment when you can almost physical see the students make the mental connection to what they are learning.

It is the moment that every teacher lives for…it is magic for the students, but it is also magic for the teacher.

It is this magic that you have to protect, against all odds.

This magic is why you teach.  This magic is what makes students want to learn.  This magic is what makes school…well…magical.

How can you be sure to keep this magic alive?

That is up to you.  Magic in my classroom is different from magic in your classroom.  You have to figure out where the magic is for you.  I have to know where the magic is for me.  And we both need to make sure that the noise of education does not drown out the magic of teaching and learning for us or our students.

I teach science.  For me, the magic is tied up in letting the students explore a concept.  I dress it up in a problem of some sort.  I let the students tackle the problem from their current understanding.  I keep some of the things they need to learn hidden…like in a magic trick.  When they think they have things sorted out, I introduce something that most students did not know…which usually makes their solution not work the way that they thought it should.  I then give them the big picture of the concept.  That is when students start to make the connections and see the real solution(s).  This is the “aha” that I live for as a teacher.  This is where students learn on their own (helped along by the the Teacher-Magician).  This is teaching and learning, in my eyes.

This is the magic.

This is what I can’t afford to lose.  No matter what.

What is the magic for you?

How will you keep it in spite of everything?

How will you make it key to what happens in your classroom?

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Teacher, I know that it is hard.  It is less hard when you remember what makes you special as a teacher and you hold on to it for dear life!  I know you know what makes you special.  I know that you know what makes your class magic.  You have what it takes to make that central, and you have what it takes to hold on to that.  You have what it takes to be a great teacher.  Be that great teacher!  You are awesome!  You are amazing!  You are making a difference!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher