Last week I shared my "blue file" as my own technique to motivate and inspire me to teach music, and invited you to share your #whyiteachmusic stories as well. The responses were inspiring to me! I hope you will take the time to read the other blog posts, and the comments, sometime this week. It has been the perfect way to get ready for Thanksgiving here in the US.
I've got the giveaway winners to announce at the end of this post, but first I want to share some of my favorite comments shared by all of YOU about why we do what we do:

I love your blue file! I post my notes on a bulletin board next to my desk along with a newspaper clipping about a concert I directed my 2nd year of teaching. I teach music because I love The lightbulb that goes on in their eyes when they master a new concept. My kiddos feel so proud and accomplished when they do something they could not do before. 
I've haphazardly 'started' a blue file in past years--taking pictures of student drawings for me or tucking away the special thank you notes that students have taken time to write. I HAVEN'T kept them in one place--I'm not good with organization :-( I DO need to pull them all together in one box/file/etc so they'll be at the ready. Every year becomes more and more difficult with, what can seem like, more negativity to wade through (not with students). I also really like your idea of writing an encouraging note to other colleagues. Thank you for all you do to inspire students, me and other teachers.
I have one of those files that i started my first year of teaching! Whenever things get tough, i open it to sweet drawings and expressions of adoration and am reminded of the innocence and purity of little ones! We are so very blessed to do what we do!

There were so many more wonderful posts- over 100 of them- so thank you everyone for sharing your words of inspiration. I definitely needed a breath of fresh air this season!

Now for the winners! The winner of my music journal and blue file is: 
Erin Scharman Middelhoven

There were seven other winners too! If you see your name below, check your email (the one you used to enter) for a message about your prize!
O for Tuna Orff: Christy Gibson 
Music with Mrs. Tanenblatt: Dan Leopold 
Floating Down the River: Jenny Trites
Sing to Kids: Becca Fiscus
Sing Play Creatively: Brooke Chamberlain 
Music Teaching and Parenting: Blanca InezSuzanne Fleischmann Bishop
Organized Chaos: Michaela Gibbons

I hope you have found some fresh energy to keep you motivated this week and through the busy holiday season. I'm so grateful to have this community of music educators to support each other!

I am teaming up with other music education bloggers to spread some positive thoughts this week, and I'd love for you to join us!  November and December are very busy time for music educators, full of performance opportunities.  Add to all of those music responsibilities, there are the teacher responsibilities such as mid year assessments, grades, parent conferences.  We want to give you some encouragement and reasons to be optimistic about your job.  There is even a giveaway to further brighten your spirits!

One of the advantages of being the last blog in the series is that I have been able to see some of the other blog posts before I begin my post.  I have a similar story to many of the other music teacher bloggers in that I feel that music education chose me, and I can't imagine what else I would ever do!  You can read about some of my first year teacher experiences here.  My family has moved many times over the last 30 years, and music education has been very good fit for me. I have been able to work in many different levels and disciplines, from high school band, elementary band, beginning strings, to children's choirs and elementary general music.  Many jobs, but always music.

One of my first "blue" file memories, more than 25 years old!
As the last blogger in the series, I would like to veer off the path of WHY I teach music, and offer some thoughts on HOW I keep going during these times when teaching is especially tough.  One of the best tips that I ever received was to start a "blue" file.  This can be a fancy scrapbook or just an overstuffed manilla file folder like mine.

The purpose is to tuck away mementos that bring back sweet memories.

When times are tough, and tears are burning, go straight to your blue file.  Just flipping through the items that I have kept will bring me back to the reason that I keep doing this hard, sweet, satisfying, important job of making music with children.

Of course, the children can give you the best inspiration to keep going!  Sometimes it is those same children who often exhibit negative behaviors that offer the best hugs and notice when you are having a tough time.  Truly, they can relate to your experience. Treasure their sweet notes and pictures.

Colleagues often give wonderful encouragement!  During times of conflict at work, it is nice to remember that, while it is hard now, it wasn't always that way.  People do care!  Right now may not be the best time for you, but during your break I challenge you to take a minute to think about a colleague you might encourage with a personal note, too.

Professional recognition is also encouraging.  We all know that we often don't get enough of this, so it is important to remember the times when someone noticed!

My spirits are already better just because I have looked up these favorites to photograph for this post.  I hope this post encourages you to look back through your own sweet memories and set up your own "blue" file!

As I said, I am teaming up with other music education bloggers for a week of encouragement.  As a part of our good wishes for you, we are hosting a giveaway.  

You can enter the giveaway (and help spread the love) two ways: commenting on our blog posts (links in the giveaway below) all week- there has been one or two of us posting each day- and sharing your own inspiration on social media with the hashtag #whyiteachmusic. Don't forget to include a link to this blog post so others can enter the giveaway too! You can share every day until Monday 11/21 and earn more entries (and spread more positivity)!

Each of us is giving away something different, so there will be plenty of winners! My prize is a music themed journal, filled with blank pages to record your very own stories, and your very own "blue" file.

Make sure to enter the giveaway below.  Leave me a comment!  I can't wait to hear some of your stories of encouragement.  Good luck!

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