Sunday, February 5, 2017

Letter to Struggling Veteran Teachers

Over the last few months, I’ve received some e-mails and have had several conversations with a few of my veteran teacher friends struggling in the classroom. Their thoughts have been on my mind!

Dear friends,
   First of all, I want to tell each of you how much I love you! Throughout the years, it’s been your smile, positive attitude, a listening ear, example, and advice that’s motivated me to push myself and grow. I am where I am today because of you! I cannot express in words how much I appreciate the time you have devoted to me. We were busy! But, you never made me feel like we had to watch the clock. We sure have had some fun times laughing and talking after school- sometimes crying both from laughter and fighting through the struggles of being a teacher. I admire all that you’ve done for kids! It’s why it's so hard to hear that you’re struggling now to keep the passion burning. So my friends, borrow mine for a time! I've certainly borrowed from you over the years!

Do you remember when I took piano lessons? I love music! I was highly motivated to learn! But taking piano lessons as an adult is a little different than being a 10-year-old kid. I remember a time when playing the piano wasn’t a joy anymore. It was a drudgery. I hated the hours of practice! I was practicing for all the wrong reasons! My frustration finally came to a head one day when my teacher and I had a “semi-heated discussion.” I felt like he was expecting too much! How many tricks can an old dog be expected to learn after all?
I distinctly remember him telling me that he was pushing and challenging me because he knew that I could play the music he was giving me. He believed in me more than I believed in myself! I had a choice. I could keep pushing myself and grow, or I could quit. Neither option sounded like much of an option to me at the time, but it did make me think. I pressed on, borrowing my teacher’s belief in me until I could believe in myself that I could play that particular piece of music.
I’m telling you that story because it’s the same with teaching. I KNOW you love kids! You have devoted your life to the service of your students. I am aware that the “music” you’re being asked to play in the classroom is difficult! Yes, a lot of things have changed! Changes are happening at such a rapid rate that it’s hard to keep up! But, staying in the status quo is not good for kids! It's not good for you either!
As I see it, you have the same two options that I had. Borrow my belief in you until you believe in yourself once again or go on with your life and exit the profession knowing that you’re leaving a great legacy! I'm so happy for one of you who decided to make that decision. I hope you'll have a fabulous time traveling the world and living your dream! You truly made a difference in the lives of hundreds of kids who will remember you forever!   
For those of you still contemplating a decision, change is continually happening. We have to make some mindset shifts to meet the needs of our kids. People are willing to help you! You do not have to teach in isolation. You don't have to figure out the technology, standards, etc. by yourself. Please, don't stay in the classroom for "one more year" and not be willing to make some changes. Our kids deserve our best now. 
  You can do it! I believe in you! You can still make a difference! Not only do the kids need you, but other teachers need you as well. They can learn from you! You can learn from them! We are better together!  
  I’m in your corner rooting for your success!

Love you!


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