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A Letter to Teachers

Dear Teachers,

I see you out there at Target shopping for deals at the Dollar Spot and searching through hundreds of online posts to help you make your first or second or third year of teaching awesome. Maybe you’ve been teaching for a while, but you still spend part of your summer reading books on the best ways to reach kids or attending professional development. You’ve chosen one of the most rewarding and life-changing professions in the world because you want to make a difference.

Here’s my message to you:

Your expertise, guidance, and love are what students need. Period. Teaching is hard. Don’t make it harder by adding the stress of creating and maintaining a picture-perfect teacher life and classroom if that isn’t you.

We all love scrolling through those amazing photos on social media. You know the ones where everything looks perfect from the color coordinated bin labels to the themed bulletin boards, matching planner, down to the personalized teacher bag. What about those beautifully crafted ticket containers and hand-lettered welcome messages on the whiteboard? It’s easy to feel disappointed and overwhelmed if you can’t create what you see in the photos. Don't kill your dream of being a superhero teacher by comparing yourself, your classroom, or your style to other teachers.

Before I continue, let me be perfectly clear that this isn’t a shaming post about the teachers out there making that dream happen because it’s how they roll, and I stand in complete awe and amazement at your skills and love browsing through your photos for inspiration and ideas. But I’m here to share this – that will never be me; it may never be you, and that’s ok.

Why? Because I can rock your world with my writing workshop lessons, interdisciplinary units, digital breakouts, and ELA activities! My classroom was a community of successful learners led by a happy teacher who was passionate about teaching, and it showed in students’ attitudes and work. My kids realized that while my style wasn’t necessarily the same as Ms. Young’s trendy, stylish pink and black dream room down the hall, (I love you, Heather!) our classroom was still inviting and warm and decorated every year in a way that represented who I was as a person and teacher. And isn’t teaching kids to celebrate their unique skills and talents part of what we should be doing for them, anyway?

I displayed family photos, knick knacks and books from places I’d traveled around the world, hand-made Mother’s Day gifts from my now adult children that only a mother could look at and love. I hung random posters of affirmations that inspired me, a poem written by my mom, personal published writing from my career as a journalist, student work and art crafted proudly, and adorned my bookshelves with artificial, possibly even tacky greenery because I’m an outdoor kinda girl and my classroom was four walls, no windows. These things brought me joy daily and let me tell you there are going to be days when you really need to find some joy.

Today take time to reflect on and visualize how wonderful your classroom will be this year. Do your best to create a space where kids will learn, grow, and flourish. Make room for fun and laughter. Provide a haven for all kids where they feel accepted and loved. When you do, your classroom will be memorable and meaningful, and it will show in the smiles on the faces of your students and the effort they put forth to be part of your beautiful, wonderful classroom community.

How are you planning to decorate your room this year? Send some love by liking or sharing the post with a teacher who needs a bit of encouragement.

Happy Teaching!

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