Posted in General Inspiration, Get Psyched!, Hope for Teachers, Mondays, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance, Theme Song, You Are Awesome!!!

[Sometimes Teachers Have to Be] Titanium


Dear 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.

All alone.

In your classroom.

With your students.

And you are awesome.

In all of this, you chose to have one focus, and one focus only.

Your students.

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!

Love, Teacher

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Posted in Poster/Graphic

A Poster of Your Awesome!


(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,

Here is just a little reminder of why what you work so hard to do is far more than worth it.  You are amazing and awesome, no matter what your day felt like!  Keep going!  Keep pushing!  Keep proving your awesome everyday!  You are making a difference, I promise.  Keep on teaching, you Magnificent Teacher, you!

Love, Teacher

PS…If you are a Pinterest-er, check out the announcement about the Pinterest contest that was posted yesterday.

Posted in You Are Awesome!!!

You are a teacher…and a lot of other things…


(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,

You are a lot of things, and you play a lot of roles.  But most of all, you are AWESOME!  You are changing lives!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Secret Occupations of Teachers, Weekend Note

S.O.o.T. Sunday: Flooring Specialist


Dear Teacher,

Great Sunday morning to you!  I hope you are having a wonderful and amazing weekend!  Today’s post is the second installment of my new weekend post series called S.O.o.T. (the Secret Occupations of Teachers) where I focus on what we do as teachers, even the stuff that a lot of people don’t realize we do, and compare it to other professions.  Each week I will acknowledge those “secret” jobs of our, give encouragement for you in those roles, and the give a little challenge to you about those hidden parts of your work.  Last week, the first S.O.o.T., I talked about how teachers compare to landscapers/gardeners.  If you did not get a chance to read it, you should check it out.  The image stuck with me, personally, and I thought about teaching and the things I needed to do in that light throughout the week.  Enough of the back story, let’s get to the S.O.o.T. for today!  🙂

This past week, I got a little (minuscule, really) experience of what another profession would be like.  If you read my post on Friday, you know that I spent the week working on installing a hardwood floor at my house and practicing the art of perseverance.  We worked with a friend, also a teacher, who has a good bit of experience working with professional flooring installers, and we went and consulted with the professional guys to get some pointers, help, and borrow some much needed tools.  Those were amazing guys that really know their stuff!  We finally finished the floor, which looked pretty good, and I have had a day or so to reflect on the experience.  For this reason, today’s S.O.o.T. is flooring specialist.

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)

This is going to be a bit long in the beginning, but please read on to how it compares to teaching.  I think it will be worth it! 

As I said, flooring specialists are amazing people.  Flooring specialists install floors (hardwoods, laminate, carpet, tile, etc…), repair said floors, and beautify the floors.  I never realized before how many “moving parts” their are in installing floors!  There are so many things you need to think about, know, and keep track of throughout the job.  There is a ton of planning.  There is a ton of prep work.  There is a ton of grunt work (the actual install).  And there is a ton of finishing work.  When you are done, you have a completed and beautiful product, but there is SO MUCH that goes into it before you get there.

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)

Flooring specialists have to take a look and plan out the floor before they can even start thinking about how to get the job done.  It usually includes their client explaining what they would like…which is not always easy to make happen.  One part of this phase of the job is explaining the reality of the “vision” to the client and what is possible/impossible, what would go into making it happen, and estimating cost.  This lets the client know if they can afford to make their dream a reality.  Once this is done, a preliminary plan can be thought out.

The next phase (and part of the planning phase) is getting rid of the old floor and looking at the sub-floor and seeing what needs to be done to it before installing a new floor can happen.  Sometimes it means the need for ripping out old sub-floor to put more permanent and reliable sub-floors in, and it almost always need to be leveled with leveling compound so that the new floors will lay flat.  Investigating and improving the sub-floor is a vital step in ensuring the longevity of a new floor.

Once the planning and sub-floor prep work is completed, then the actual installation can happen.  There is measuring, cutting, gluing, stapling, nailing, tapping, moving, hammering, and a number of other things that I am leaving out.  There is even some “undoing” if you make a mistake…which is time consuming and stressful because you do not want to damage the floor that does not need to be fixed.  The tools you use to do all of this are special and specific to the job, as well as some power tools for cutting that most people do not have just sitting around.  It is all pain-staking and precise work…and the less experience you have the harder it is!

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may us the picture if you link back to this blog.)

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may us the picture if you link back to this blog.)

At the end, you need to clean.  You need to fill in areas that may need more precise cuts.  You need to putty holes left by nails or staples.  You need to carefully replace molding and shoe molding.  And then you need to clean again.  When it is all said and done, it is a beautiful job done…but it was a lot of work to get to “done.”

Acknowlegement

Teacher, you are a flooring specialist.  You are given a vision of what the end product needs to look like with your students.  You are told what they need to know, understand, and be able to do by the end of the year.  You try to be realistic with the “clients” giving you this vision for your students and show them what is possible/impossible, what it will take to get to the vision, and estimate the costs of the vision (in money, time, and energy), but in the end you are given the expectation for what the “floor” needs to look like.

You make a preliminary plan of what it will take to get the job done, and then you get to looking at the sub-floor.  You meet your students.  You get to know them.  You learn what they know/don’t know.  You figure out their strengths and weaknesses.  You find out what they have and what they need.  You try to find a place that you can teach from that will address the needs of all students.  Some students need new ways of thinking and studying…you need to work to replace their “sub-floors” with something more permanent.  Other just need to be “leveled out” a bit to be able to keep up with the content, work, and other students.  You work hard to get this all done as quick as you can in the beginning so that you can get to the hard work of “laying the floors” of knowledge, understanding, and accomplishment.

Once the prep work is complete, you get to the installation.  You measure student data as you go.  You use specialized teaching tools appropriate for each situation and student.  You find ways to make the new content, understanding, and application “stick” and “adhere” to students minds and thinking.  You move things around (content and students).  You make sure everything fits.  You have a lot of moving pieces to keep track of, but you do it like a champ!  Sometimes you have to “undo” some mistakes make, and you do so carefully so you do not damage what has already been done that is working well.  You work hard with expertise and professionalism.  

In the end you do the finishing work of filling in gaps.  You even out places that are a little off.  You “putty” in small pieces of understanding that may have been missed here or there.  You then replace the molding and finish out what you can to send a beautiful product up to the next grade.  You send on an amazing product, but it took a lot of work to get it done!

Encouragement

  • Teacher, you are amazing at what you do!  The job so often seems hard or impossible…the vision given seems unreachable, but you work hard at it anyway!  You get as close to the vision as you possible can, and sometimes you even go past that vision.  You are awesome!
  • There are so many pieces to what you do, and you have to be great at all of them…and you are!  You have to plan with realism. You have to get to know your students.  You have to measure, cut, apply, and adjust constantly.  You have so much to keep up with…but somehow you do it!  You are amazing!
  • You do a great job when everything is said and done at the end of the year!  Do not be ashamed to look back and see how great the floors are compared to how they were before you got to them!  Take a look back at students that you have brought a long way and be proud!  Don’t be afraid to do this.  You need to do this.  Remembering our success is the only way to be even more successful in the future!

Challenge

  • Teachers on summer break, set a vision for next year.  Work at that this summer.  Yes, you don’t know what your “sub-floors” are like yet, but you can plan a vision.  You know the expectations for you, so work from their.  Don’t be afraid to plan big.  I know I am this summer.  Your big plans may not pan out, but don’t be afraid to dream.  Come up with the most creative way to meet and surpass the vision that has been set for you by others.  You can do it!  Come up with at least three real things that you can do different this year to get to the impossible goals set for you.  You can do it!  You are amazing!
  • Teachers teaching right now, stop and think about one real way that you can change what you are doing to better address the needs of your students.  Take stock of your “sub-floor” with each student and find one way to help “level” or “improve” the knowledge, understanding, and/or abilities of each student.  It is hard work , but worthwhile in the end.  One thing for each student.  You can do that!  Just do it!

Teacher, you are an amazing floor specialist!  You work so hard to meet the goals set for you.  In the end, you have brought each student so far and have installed beautiful floors.  Don’t forget that.  Never forget that.  You are awesome!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, Secret Occupations of Teachers, Weekend Note

Secret Occupations of Teachers (S.O.o.T.) Inaugural Post


Dear Teacher,

As I promised, I am kicking off a series of posts that I will write over the weekends called The Secret Occupations of Teachers, or S.O.o.T. for short.  I am going to talk about some of the “extra” things that teachers do or compare some of what we do to other occupations.  The  goal of this series is to give you some comfort in knowing other people understand what you do (along with some encouragement and challenges in some of your roles) and to let other people in on the parts of a life of a teacher that they may not know about.  I am excited about these posts, and I hope you will be to!

Today’s S.O.o.T. is gardener/landscaper.  These jobs deal with the care and upkeep of plants, for the most part.  When you think of gardeners, you think of gardens, flowers, and vegetables.  When you think of landscapers, you think of mowing, weeding, planting, and taking care of yards and landscapes.  Gardeners/landscapers understand plants.  They know what grows when and the circumstances needed for ideal growth…and they know how to create those circumstances.  They know weeds.  They know how to identify them and get rid of them.  They know plants, understand them, and use what they know and understand to grow beautiful and wonderful things.

Acknowlegement

Teacher, you are a landscaper and a gardener.  You don’t deal in plants, you deal in people.  The soil that you work with is the minds and hearts of your students.  You have to know this soil.  You have to understand the circumstances in which you are tying to grow.  You get to know you students.  Learn who they are and how they think.  With this you identify weeds that need to be worked on and pulled out.  Sometimes this is easy, but more often it is quite hard.  Once the ground is ready, you plant seeds of knowledge and learning.

The seeds grow differently in each student, and you know that the circumstances needed for growth change from student to student.  You know that you cannot force the seeds to grow, so you make sure that you enable the soil in each student to have everything that is needs to allow growth.  You nurture.  You feed and water the seeds.  When weeds of misunderstanding grow, you address them quickly with which ever means are necessary.  You do all that you can to ensure growth of the seeds, and then you do the only thing you can do…wait.

You wait and see what grows from the soil.  You are patient.  You are understanding.  You change things as needed when the fruit of understanding looks weak with a student.  You do all that you can to make sure that you have done all that you can to see understanding bloom and take shape.  And when it is all said and done, you stand back and enjoy the beauty of understanding students that has grown from your hard work.

(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture if you link back to this blog.)

Encouragement

Teacher, I know that this role of landscaper/gardener is hard.  You have to be vigilant.  You can’t just mow the lawn once or pull up the weeds of misunderstanding a couple of times and be done.  No, you have to keep at it.  Day after day with each and every student, and you do without complaint.  But it is hard.

Don’t give up.  I know when you pull up that same weed from one student the 1001st time you do not want to do it again, but keep doing it.  Something beautiful WILL grow.  Just keep going.  Keep at it.  You know it is worth it in the end.  Focus on what you want to see grow and then do what it takes to make that happen.

You are an amazing gardener.  You are a wonderful landscaper.  Keep at it!  You can do it!  You are awesome!

Challenge

Remember this analogy as you plug away with your students.  When the going gets rough and they just don’t seem to be getting it, remember that you are a landscaper/gardener and that if you keep working at it something wonderfully beautiful will grow.  When school starts (or right now, if you are teaching), find the most difficult students, and see them as a garden.  Find somewhere to write down three things that you want to see grown in them by the end of the year.  Work hard at seeing those things grow.  Pick three students and three things to grow in them for each.  Do what it takes to see the growth.  Keep notes on the growth you see.  At the end of the year, celebrate the beauty you have watched blossom!

You are an awesome landscaper/gardener, and don’t ever forget that!  I hope this has spoken to you and given you some hope.  I know it has done that for me just writing this.  I am going to take the challenge myself next year.  I hope that you do the same!

You are awesome!  You are believed it!  And you are supported!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Page tonight (Sunday) for the giveaway/contest.  The contest closes at midnight on Friday, July 5th!

Posted in Note to Teachers, Teacher Testimony, You Are Awesome!!!

The Red Panda


(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture only if you link back to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the picture only if you link back to this blog.)

Dear Teacher,

Wow, I picked a timely issue when I decided to write today’s post.  I have been sitting on this idea for almost a month, and I thought today would be a great day to write it.  When I looked up red pandas to get a little more background information, this news story about a Red Panda that escaped from the National Zoo that was found today!

Anyway, the Red Panda.

I have been interested in red pandas ever since I was a kid and heard about them and saw one for the first time at, of all places, the National Zoo in Washington, DC.  I really wanted to see the giant pandas that day, but Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling were in their buildings and did not come out that day.  My attention was brought to the red pandas.  I first I thought that they might be related to the panda bears, so I was excited.  That excitement waned when my dad read that they were not even bears but were actually more like the Chinese raccoon (because they are related to the raccoon and found primarily in China).

I was disappointed, but the red panda has stuck with me since that day.  I, like a lot of people, first heard the name red panda and thought it was a panda bear.  It turns out, according to Wikipedia, that the “panda” in the red panda’s name is from the word in the language of Nepal for “eater of bamboo.”  In terms of word meanings, the giant panda and red panda are related, but not else.  I was confused and let  down by the red panda because of this.

In the years since, I have grown to become affectionate for red pandas.  I have learned more about them and I have come to see that they are amazing animals.  They are beautiful, rare, and kind of fun to watch (when they are not sleeping…which the ones at the zoo where I live do a lot of).  They have an interesting history and background, and they are a just cool animal…even if their name is misleading.

I share all of this, because we teachers are red pandas.  So many people confuse and misunderstand what we do and who we are.  People here the name “teacher,” and they immediately think of teachers they have had in the past or the picture of teachers on TV, in movies, or on the news.  None of these media sources, or even memories of school years past, are an accurate picture of who we are today and what we do (and have to put up with).  It is hard to truly understand teachers and teaching until you walk a few thousand miles in our shoes.

Teacher, you are the Red Panda.  People may not understand you, but that is okay with you.  You are still an amazing and special creature.  You do what you do, and you do it well, no matter what other people think!  You are the Red Panda of the human world, and you wear that with pride.

Teacher Red Panda, be proud of who you are.  Be proud of what you do.  Don’t take the misunderstanding of teaching to heart.  Help people understand.  They will come to see how awesome you are!

You are awesome!  So awesome!  You are believed in and you are special.  You make a difference and you are changing the future!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher