Teachers, You Should Write a Letter Like This to Yourself, Right Now. (You’ll Thank Yourself Later)

Teachers are often so amazing at caring, supporting and moulding others. We constantly seek to inspire others and make them discover that they can do so much more than they previously thought.

And when they fail we are also there to offer an encouraging word of support, a wise statement about learning from mistakes or a compassionate ear when things go completely south.

What is also incredible is that we often do not extend these same courtesies to ourselves…especially when we need it the most.

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Over the last couple of years there has been quite a bit written about self-compassion (check out Kristen Neff’s TEDx video if you’re interested). If you’re anything like me, at certain points in the year (read: report writing time) a whole bunch of articles, comments or memes will clog your newsfeed on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram telling us to be easier on ourselves.

Because, if there’s one thing teachers love doing, it’s focusing on what we might not have achieved or done during a day.

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I can’t believe it, even though I just inspired 24 kids to take risks and share how they feel about the year ahead, one kid didn’t try at all… I’ve let down the whole class.

This year I decided enough was enough.

I decided I needed to start treating myself in a similar way I treat my students – with ongoing support, understanding and kindness mixed with openness to challenge and adventure.

During this term, when my students were spending time reflecting on what they want their last day of the year to feel like and what they want to be smiling about, I made sure to do this too.

If we want to know whether or not this year really has been a good one, why not stop and think about what we are hoping for? Why couldn’t we make this as real as possible by describing the feelings we are imagining when we achieve it.

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Yeah! Bring on celebrating and owning what we are hoping for! Woo!

As my Grade 5/6 class sat down and prioritised what they are hoping for and expecting out of the year, I made sure to do the same thing. Mine was a little different as it was not only about my class, but also about the teaching teams I am supporting.

BUT, then I did something a little different to what I’ve done in the past.

I set the challenge for each of us to make our hopes and aspirations a little more real. I challenged my students and teams to not only write their letter, but also then read it aloud to us. By reading our letters aloud, our words become that little bit more real and accountable…which means we are more likely to work towards them. (Students could read their letters in small groups to friends).

Then I folded up my letter, placed it in an envelope, labelled it “To Be Read On Your Last Day” and stuck it up in a really visible spot at above my desk…where both my class and myself can see it.

Sharing our hopes and wishes isn’t something we often. Making time to not only write these down and but share these in our groups gives us the opportunities to be vulnerable and increase the feeling of trust in our teaching teams and classrooms.

That’s the important part: choosing to make time to be vulnerable and let our teams and peers in on our hopes and aspirations as teachers and learners. Choosing to let them know why we come into school each and every day

With that said, I’d like to be a little vulnerable here with our community. I’d like to share what I wrote in my letter and encourage you all to treat yourself like your students or teams. Make time to write what you hope for, and then try out the challenge of sharing it with those in your school or class community.

We do and achieve so much in our years, sometimes we just miss this because we don’t make the time to see or remember it.

Let’s make time to celebrate the big, small and tiny things we do.

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We got this.

To Be Read on the Last Day of the Year

Dan,

Well, you made it!

At this point, you’re probably standing in the empty classroom doing what you usually do…finding a quiet spot to sit down and reflect on the different fun times and challenges in the class throughout the year.

It’s safe to say, it’s been a brilliant year full of great lessons and challenge.

Particularly when considering the balancing act you’ve been working on throughout the year: managing the bigger picture while also constantly trying to remember the kids and learning taking place each and every day in your classroom. It’s been a great, yet tricky, challenge supporting the needs of the different and amazing kids in your class, alongside the different teaching teams within the school.

Hugely rewarding, tiring at times, but full to the bloody brim with new discoveries and insights.

Here’s hoping, right now you’ve got your feet up and are taking a moment to relax. I reckon you might deserve a little bit of downtime!

So, what are the hopes and things I’ve been dreaming of seeing come to life?

Creating a class and team where people not only feel that can share what they think, but are always willing to take more and more steps to become the greatest teacher they can be. Trust is a crucial thing, so hopefully you’ve made sure to always remember, emails are quick, but it’s important to make and take time to get to know everyone before you can fully support and challenge them.

Finally, don’t forget, the biggest sign of your impact you’ve been looking for all year is in smiles and faces of the kids across the school. Whilst data and spreadsheets are awesome, ultimately having kids enjoying school, feeling like they belong and can take positive risks is why you got into this caper.

Well done on another year of taking risks, putting in time for yourself and others to discover more, and for consistently making the choice to help kids and adults…the little efforts always add up to a big impact.

Keep making time to celebrate the big, small and tiny wins.

Every single one matters.

– Dan

 

Interested in a template to guide your Junior, Middle or Senior students reflect on their hopes and aspirations for the year? Sign up and join our community to get it sent straight to you…add to it or simply begin to use it in your own classroom!

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Ready for some more? You might like these…

Teacher Tip #76: Act Like An Idiot (Sometimes)

How to Start Teaching and Creating a Positive Class Culture

Why We Need to Watch Our Students Walk Into Our Classrooms

How to Win Kids Over: Names and a Similarity

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