Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk, Theme Song

[it’s] The Climb


Dear Teacher,

Can you tell with the dramatic decrease in posts that it has been a busy start to my new school year?  New school years are always hectic, but even more so when there is a drastic change to what or how you are teaching.  This is kind of what today’s post is about.  However, first things first.  It is Monday, so it means this is a theme song post.

This past week, for me, is more than just the start of a new school year.  Last week marked a change in how I teach.  This summer I did a lot of work to learn more about teaching/learning and best practices for making that transaction of teaching and learning happen more effectively for me and my students.  I found out a lot of things that need to change, I planned  ways to make those changes, and last Wednesday was where the rubber met the road with it all.

I have made two major changes.  I am teaching through the use of Problem Based Learning units, and I am using brain-based learning strategies for my actual instruction.  This are both huge shifts in how I teach.  Not that I was not student-centered before, but these two things are making me far more intentional about anything and everything I do in the classroom.

This transition started with a long look in the mirror.  I had to stop pointing fingers about the lack of improvement for some of my students.  I had to take responsibility for my side of the teaching/learning relationship.  This drove me to look and ask for help.  I did this in a variety of ways, but something that kept coming up was Problem Based Learning (PBL) and brain-based strategies.  So I spent time learning about both of these.

I was, in essence, driven back to the drawing board.  In a lot of ways, I started over with how I thought about my role as a teacher, my students’ roles as learners, and what my classroom should look and feel like.  I made strides with changing these things.  I redesigned my classroom, my style of teaching, and how I set up the dynamics of lessons and units.  I put a lot of effort into this over the summer.

Last week, it all began.  This song pretty much sums up my experience.

It was hard to constantly remind myself of the changes that I am making.  I had to constantly rethink every interaction and transition.  I had to remember to keep each activity targeted and intentional.  I had to keep my mind on the fact that students that were not engaged might be a sign of something that I need to adjust in the classroom.  I had to be more proactive about every situation and potential conflict.

It got easier throughout the week, but it was difficult and tiring.  I came in early every day and stayed late.  I reflected and took mental notes.  I made small adjustments moment by moment, depending on the need.  It very much was a climb.

Did I lose some battles with myself?  Sure.  Did I get tired and worn out?  Of course.  Did I lose sight of my goals from time to time?  Yes.  Did I want to give up and slide back down the mountain every once in a while?  Affirmative.  Did I give up?  NO.  Did I keep climbing?  YES.

Change is about the climb.  It is about moving in the right direction.  Are we always going to win?  No, we aren’t.  Is going to be work, and hard work at that?  Yes, you know that it is.  It is the work and difficulties that actually change us.  We learn from failures more than successes.  When we have to backtrack and start again, we know what not to do and can do better the next time.

Becoming the teacher we can be is difficult.  But we need to keep on moving.  We need to keep on climbing.  As we climb, we are becoming more and more of the teacher that we need to be for our students.  We choose a destination, but it is the climb that makes us better.  Reaching the goal is not the ultimate success.  Being the person that we will become to meet that goal is the true success.  Change is the highest achievement.  The climb is what causes this change.

You are awesome!  I know that you are striving to make the changes that you need to make for the betterment of your students!  I know that you will keep working to make those changes!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and climb on!

Love, Teacher

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Posted in Get Psyched!, Pep Talk, Theme Song, You Are Awesome!!!

It’s My Life [and my school year]


(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)

Dear Teacher,

Okay, I know that you may or may not be starting the new school year when you read this.  However, there is a good chance that you are, because most of the readers of this blog are from the US.  If you are not starting the new school year, you may still find some motivation here in this post, so read on.  I hope it will be worth your time!

This is a theme song post; you know the procedures by now, I hope!  Click play and then start reading when the music starts!

This is it, Teacher.  A new school year is upon you.  Are you ready?  Are you nervous?  Are you anxious?  Are you excited?  Or are you, like me, a jumble and mix of all three and then some?

What are your plans for the year?  I don’t mean unit and lesson plans.  I mean what are your plans in the terms of what you want the school year to look like?  Do you have those kind of plans?  Do you have goals, hopes, and dreams for what the school year could be like?  I don’t mean the kind of hopes and dreams that you think, “That would be nice but it won’t happen.”  I mean the kind of hopes and dreams that you believe in so much that it gets you up in the morning and you will wear yourself out to make happen?

A lot of us had those kind of plans when we first started teaching.  Unfortunately, the longer you teach the more that kind of thinking fades.  Lofty and slightly unrealistic goals get beat out of you by the realities of teaching.  It does happen slowly, thank goodness, but our hopes erode over the years.

Drip by drip, the stress and pressure of teaching starts to wear on you.  It breaks down the hope.  It washes some of the dreaming away.  It dims the light that used to shine so bright.

Sometimes this gets to the point that the school year happens to you.  You get stuck in a form of “survival mode” that you stay in just to make it through.  You love and do your best with your students, but the spark is faded or gone.  You go along with the waves and currents of the year because you have so little fight left.  It is a normal part of teaching for so many of us.  Don’t feel bad if you have been there or are there.  There is hope!

What is that hope, Mr. Dear Teacher/Love Teacher?

The hope is that IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

Most of this is going to be a mental exercise, so I know that you may or may not see this as a little bit of “pie in the sky hooey,” but you just have to change your thinking!  You have to believe that this year is going to be different.  This year will be the change and you will never be the same teacher again!  You have to stand firm and resolute.  You have have to stand tall, look this new school year in the eye, and be determined that you are going to happen to the year and the year is not just going to happen to you!

Your attitude has to change.

Remember way back to when you first started out.  Remember those wild-eyed dreams that you had.  Remember the teacher that you were determined to be.  Remember how you were going to take the world by storm and change the lives of your students for the better.

Have that image and those thoughts in your head, and then look in the mirror and tell yourself that it is not too late.  You know why?  It is because, no matter how long that you have been teaching, IT IS NOT TOO LATE!  You can still be that teacher!  You can still meet those goals!

The best part is that the longer you have been teaching, the more know-how and experience you have to make those things happen and be that teacher you wanted to be.  You just have to purpose yourself to do so!  And you can!  You can because you are awesome!

The past does not matter.  No matter the teacher you have been, you can still be the teacher you always wanted to be!  Find a way to do it.  Hang out with those teachers that are closest to what you dreamed of being.  Learn from them.  Read, read, read!  There are so many sources for strategies and ideas!  I will post some of those sources soon.  Get to know your students.  Find out what they think they need from you as a teacher.  Try to become the teacher that they need!

Teacher, YOU CAN DO THIS!

It is your teaching life.  It is your year.  It is now or never.  Teach like your alive!  You are alive!  You can be the great teacher you wanted to be or that people think you are and you don’t believe them.  It is never too late!

BE AWESOME!  MAKE THIS YEAR AWESOME!  DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES!  YOU CAN BECAUSE YOU ARE AMAZING!  KEEP ON TEACHING, TEACHER!

This is your year, and don’t you forget it!

Love, Teacher