This One's For the Teachers


Dear Teachers,

It’s that time of year when we walk into our schools and classrooms with refreshed minds and hearts on fire. It’s that time when we’re excited to organize and decorate our classrooms, plan our read alouds for the first few weeks of school, curate our suite of back-to-school materials for students and families.

It’s also that time of year when some of us prepare to step into a world of make believe. We cross the threshold of our classrooms and begin the act of the good teacher, the perfect teacher, the nurturing teacher. We walk down the hallway, eyeing the magic (dare I say wizardry) of other teachers in our building or take a scroll down Instagram lane, feeling less than with each picture, each caption, each perfectly organized classroom library and font coordination. We resign ourselves to the grind this school year presents. We commit yet again to the rat race that is education.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In the midst of each post and video outlining for you how to start the year right or strong or effectively; in the noise of what I like to call popular education, here’s my take: SCREW IT ALL and BE YOUR FREAKING SELF. Not the self you’re convinced you need to be or become to be a “good” teacher. Not the self you’ve concocted in your mind to align with the teachers featured in the movies (fake) or online (often inauthentic). But YOU - the real and true version.

Your students don’t care about the hours you spent coordinating fonts and colors if that’s not your jam. You aren’t a better or worse teacher if you’ve been freaking pen pals with your students all summer if that’s not who YOU are. Students aren’t as concerned with the hours you’ve spent laminating (come on Sheila - you and I both know you’ve laminated way too much this summer. Step away from the machine.). Rather, they need your authentic self. They need your stupid jokes that more often than not only you laugh at. They need your quirks. They need you to make them dance because YOU love to dance, and for goodness sake you need to break it down mid-lesson to get through this day. They need your true love of learning and teaching, not some imitation of what you’ve seen online. They need your art and your craft. And frankly, so do you.

It took me eight years in the teaching profession before I even began the journey to finding my center, my authentic self. Eight years of running ragged. Eight years of saying too many yesses and attempting to fit into the nurturing and good teacher narrative I created in my mind. Eight years of losing myself in my career and emerging on the other side ready to walk away forever. This is the story of too many of us. There came a point in my life when I realized it wasn’t worth it. I could not do it all. And I ESPECIALLY could not do it all while playing a giant game of pretend.

So this year, let’s take stock of who we ACTUALLY are as teachers and (gasp!) humans. Let’s focus on showing up as our authentic selves, because in doing so, we give our students and colleagues permission to do the same.

You got this friends!

So much love,