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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
I have a feeling that you are like me. You are a decent teacher, but sometimes you have moments of sheer teaching genius. You have times where everything that you touch turns to teaching gold. Those times are few and fleeting, but they happen.
We also have those fortunately fleeting flickers of time when the opposite happens. Everything you touch turn to teaching…well, you know what I mean.
We tend to get hung up on those two extremes. We either look back at those hours of greatness and wonder how to get back to them, or we beat ourselves up for the seconds of eternal not-so-greatness and try to figure out how to avoid them forever.
What we miss more than too often are the times in-between. The every day situations. The times when things work out just okay.
I think that the “just okays” are more important than everything else.
Because the “just okays” are what we do as teachers.
I won’t go into it again today, but yesterday I reminded us all of all the things that we deal with as teachers every minute of every day. We have a lot working against us. There are a mountain of issues that we have to climb each and every day. It is almost like we are set up to fail most days.
But we don’t fail.
Somehow we survive.
More than that…
Somehow we are able to teach, reach, and help students become learners and better people.
The every day “just okays” are how we do this.
The awesomeness of what we do happens in the daily grind of teaching. We have a sense of what needs to be done, what we need to do to get it done, and ability to somehow get this things done.
Everyday we just have to have faith that we know the right things…and we step out in that faith. Somehow, when all is said and done, we find that we were usually right with the choices that we made in our classroom day-to-day.
The steps of faith are what make up okay days. The cool thing is that those kind of days add up. Over time, we can look back and see that we are, just maybe, a little better than “just okay.”
Another result of the pressing on in faith to make days okay also help us do something else pretty cool. Over time, the “okay days” also often lead to those moments of grandeur and away from of the moment of lack-of-grandeur. The more okay that we have, the more great days tend to build up and we have longer periods of time between the terrible, horrible, no good, really bad days.
I am reminded of a scene from one of the best movies ever, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indiana has to trust his interpretation of clues that he is chasing. He stands over a huge chasm. He thinks he know what to do. His father’s life is in the balance. He has to trust what he thinks is right. Do I need to point out the connections to the “just okay” days? I think you get it! Anyway, watch this clip.
“Just okay” is not a bad thing.
“Just okay” is not an awful goal.
“Just okay” means you are doing something right.
So what does this mean for you and me? We need to daily have faith in ourselves. We know what to do. We have that teacher instinct of what the right thing is. We just need to do it. Day after day. Week after week. All of our “okay” will be our greatness. It proves our awesomeness.
You really are awesome! Your gut is usually right. Trust it. Take daily steps of faith. Your “okay” is more than just okay. You’ve got this. You are making a difference! Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!
How was your weekend? I know a lot of teachers are coming off of or going into Fall Break, if they are lucky enough to have that where they teach. Mine is this week, so I am starting a three-day school week.
So how are you doing this year? From talking to people and my feedback through the blog, it sounds like many teachers are having a rough year. What about you? How is it going?
This year has been good, rough, and just plain interesting for me. I don’t think you would believe half of the stories that I can already tell just from the 2014-2015 school year. I can tell you that I am worn out, tired, and a little beat-up. I know that I am making progress with my students, don’t get me wrong, I am just exhausted.
I have a feeling that you might just feel the same way. For that reason, today’s post will be a special one. I haven’t done one of these in a long while, but I think it is time to dust off the Theme Song Post.
If you are new to this blog, you might be wondering, “What is that?”
I pick a theme song for you to listen to while you read the rest of the post. I hope that it serves as a theme song for your day or week. It usually sticks with me for the whole week when I do these.
Anyway, click play and then read on…
Teacher, you do one of the most noble, yet challenging, jobs in the entire world.
Unfortunately, it feels more challenging that noble most of the time.
First of all, you work with a room full of students everyday (or several groups of students throughout each day). That is a challenge in of it self. You have to know your students. You have to know what they need. You have to figure out how to get them to work together. You have to get them to learn how to learn. You have to teach them specific content. You have to…well, you get the point. This would be a list the size of the internet if I put everything that you need to do on this level of teaching.
Add to that, you have to deal with student issues, behaviors, and struggles. You have students with bad days. You have students who don’t get along. You have students who have IEPs. You have students that are ESOL. You have students with BIPs. You have students that come from environments that do not reinforce what you are teaching. You have students who are lacking the skills with which they should have had before getting to you. You have students who need to learn some social skills that are lacking. You have students who can’t sit still. You have students on multiple levels of abilities. You have students who don’t care. You have students that care too much. You have a thousand other specifics here. You have more than a handful of things to think about besides what you teach at any given moment.
On top of all of this, you have voices and critics from the outside. There is administration telling you how to teach and not teach. You have teams and other teachers giving advice on how you can better reach your students. You have parents giving you feedback on what they feel like you are doing wrong. You have district level people changing the expectations for you left and write. You have the state making curriculum changes that wildly affect the students that sit in your classroom. You have an ever changing landscape of standards to muddle through. You have the world of education with the ever-growing list of best practices, current theories/strategies, and 21st century skills that you just have to incorporate into your classroom and instruction. You have a million different directions that you are being asked to go everyday.
And then there is you.
In your classroom.
With your students.
And you are awesome.
In all of this, you chose to have one focus, and one focus only.
You know that it is those young minds that matter most.
And you make it work.
You do everything that you can do to protect your students from all of the other stuff. You are the umbrella that covers them. You are the shield. You are their cover from the mess all around them and you.
Teacher, you try your best to be bullet-proof.
But it is not for you,; it is for them.
I want to encourage you, friend. You are doing the right thing by focusing on the students before all else. You are making good choices. You are making a difference.
I know that it is hard. It is really, really, really hard sometimes. But keep going. Keep fighting. Keep doing what you do.
It is difficult to be made of titanium, but sometimes you have to be. I know that you know that it will be worth it for those students sitting in your desks in your room. Don’t give up. Don’t stop. You are an amazing teacher! I mean that. I really do!
You are so awesome! You don’t always feel that way, but it is so very true. You do what needs to be done for students. This is why you are a great teacher. Don’t forget that! Never stop! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
Today, step out in faith. You know your students. You know what they know, need to know, and how to get from point A to point B. This is what you do. This is who you are. You are a teacher. You teach. And you’re good at it, I might add.
I know, I know. There are a lot of voices. There are a lot of expectations. There are a lot of opinions, best practices, and researched-based strategies. But…you are the one that knows what you do best and what your students need from you.
I am not saying do not try what you learn in PD, from books, and the latest post from Edutopia. By all means, try strategies and ideas to make your teaching better. BUT, I am saying, be guided in your decisions by the one thing you have that is better than anyone else’s ideas or opinions…knowledge of your students.
You know what you need to do. You know what resources you need to seek out. You know what needs to be tried for the sake of your students. You are the key to it all.
Be confident. Take a stand for what needs to happen in your classroom. Do what needs to be done. Advocate for your students and teach the way that they need you to teach.
Will you have to defend yourself? Yes.
Will you have to take a little flack? Of course.
Will you be worn out, beat up, and beat down? Probably.
Will it be worth it? Eventually…and you may not see the payoff yourself.
Why do it then? Because you are a teacher and this is what you do. You care for your students. You want them to reach their potential. You are willing to pour yourself out for your students.
Teacher, you know how to teach YOUR students. Teach them well. Do not be afraid to teach the way that needs to be taught. You’ve got this!
You are awesome! You know what to do. Do it. Teach your heart out today and keep on teaching, 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…
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.
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.
Like I said, pause and breathe. Most of the time, reacting immediately leads to those poor choices mentioned.
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.
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.
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.
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!