How to BE

Just think of the noise!


The noise from the girls.
The noise from the boys.
All wired from a summer of fun and sweet treats.
With new shirts on their backs and new shoes on their feets.
In your room they’ll come bounding with sweet shrieks of glee.
“I dare you!” They taunt, “You just try to teach me!”

You feel your heart pound. You wake up in a sweat.
“No this can’t happen now. I’m not ready. Not yet!”
“This frightening vision just cannot be true!”
“Not today. Not tomorrow. There is too much to do!”
“I must file my file folders, post signs to my doors.”
“I must dust off my desktop, and straighten my drawers.”
“My bulletin boards have no cute frilly borders.”
“And I’m missing the last of my pencil box orders.”

STOP right there! Don’t tense up in terrible tizzy.
All this whining and stressing is making me dizzy.
Just calm down. Take a breath. There you go. Feeling better?
Let me tell you the reason for this rhyming letter.

Sure the first day of school is practically here,
but let me assure you, there’s nothing to fear.
Those unchecked to-do’s on your list may seem huge,
But when you take a step back they’re just lipstick and rouge.
When kids arrive that first day, it’s important to see
You don’t have to be perfectly ready . . . just . . . BE

BE there to greet them with a smile on your face.
BE kind so they know that your room’s a safe place.
BE attentive and listen; they may have fears too.
BE humble. Remember it’s not all about you.
BE curious. Ask questions that make their minds fly.
BE unsatisfied with answers if they can’t explain why.
BE okay with mistakes. Show you learn when you fail.
and BE sure they know that’s what it takes to prevail.

So in June when your students think back to this Fall
They may not recall what was stuck on the wall.
And those signs on the door may not stick in their head
But is all that important? I think not. So instead
I pray they’ll say, “My teacher cared about me.”
“And a person like that is what I’ll try to BE.”

23 thoughts on “How to BE”

  1. Dennis. Thanks for sharing these GREAT back to school tips. Makes me ALMOST want to go back to being a homeroom teacher again (tech guy AND retired now). Knowing that there are STILL a LOT of teachers out there who care and will take your advice to heart is a good thing.

  2. Dennis, this is just amazing! And so perfectly true!! I’m going to share this with all my co-workers next week when we return to school. Of course, I’ll have to print it out on that old-fashioned stuff they call “paper”.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks Karen. Feel free to add Seuss-like illustrations, and if you do, be sure to share them back with me.

  4. Dennis, I love this! What a great motivator! I can’t wait to share this with my teachers!

  5. Thank you. This was put together so well. I found your words to be quite uplifting for me in a time of need. We, as teachers, need to BE there for our students and truly show that we do care about them.

  6. Thank you for this post. It’s great to be reminded about why it’s wonderful to be a teacher. Yes, the content is important and we want our students to succeed. But what our students remember is that we were considerate of them. That we valued their ideas, their opinions, and their responses, however wild, tangential, unrelated it may have been. Students want to know that their thoughts, academic or not, matter, especially in the identity development stages of middle and high school. When teachers acknowledge students, speak to them using their names, and build a rapport using student interests, it makes the classroom experience meaningful and worthwhile to students. Whether it’s saying “good morning” or “have a good weekend”, just BEing there to say hi or bye can make some student’s day. And that is a wonderful feeling.

  7. What a great way to describe how teachers and students feel during the first week of school. The goal of the teacher is to reach out to each of their students and make a connection. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate that you care is to greet each student at the door as they walk into your room. Students feel more at ease when they are recognized, and will be more receptive to their teacher in class. June seems like a distant and unreachable time of the year, but it will come sooner than we think. “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Thanks for sharing such inspiring thoughts!

  8. Great work, DENnis. I’m sure many teachers across the country – and world – will read this during the next few weeks.

  9. This is just…Perfect! I am sharing this with my staff to remember what it really means to be starting a new school year! Thank you for posting!

  10. Awesome! I had to read it aloud (to myself). I will definitely Seuss-ify and share! I love the permission to be.

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