Can you remember all of the teachers you ever had?
Mrs. Bayles, Mrs. Bruce, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Hughes, Mrs. Hammock, Mrs. Metcalf, Mrs. Drake, Mrs. Parks, Mrs. Warden, Mrs. Cardwell, Mrs. Copass, Coach Conkin, Coach Atcher, Mr. Hale, Mr. Ragland, Mrs. Pais, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Raines, Mrs. Cothern, Mrs. Ditmore, Mrs. Callahan, Mr. Cash, Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Harrell, Mrs. Pence, Coach Shelton, Mrs. Rhea, Mrs. Chaney, Mr. Waddle, Mrs. Bradley, Coach Murphree, Coach Bell, Mrs. Perkins, Mrs. Jernigan, Mr. Tyler, Mr. Vejr, Coach Hooks, Ms. Meguire, Mrs. Ware, Mr. Almond, Ms. Lacy, Mr. Smethers, Ms. Matthews, Mrs. Ellis, and Ms. Vincent.
Elementary started out easier and high school was difficult. I may have left someone off, but overall, it wasn’t that hard to compile this list. Each person above made an impression and that’s why I remember them. One in particular was a teacher that I had a total personality conflict with, but I learned a lot from her.
This week was Teacher Appreciation Week.
With a lot of drama within our school this week, many of us felt very under appreciated. We’ve just finished up 2 weeks of testing, there were 3 fights on my team, and we are all wondering what we are teaching next year and who are we teaching with. Some lunch plans that all the teachers were depending on didn’t quite happen and I could go on and on.
Then this afternoon, one of our student workers brought me a note. I noticed it was beautifully colored so I knew it was by a child. I read it with my class watching and fought back tears.
Let me back up to last year.
I had a difficult group of 5th graders. Of course there were the ones that were going to do whatever was asked, no problem. But the majority of them just didn’t care if they were there or not. There were a handful of girls that were making bad choices. These girls were so smart and I could see they were clearly wasting their opportunity to succeed. There was one I was really drawn too. Quiet, cute, smart, and hurting. You see, she was going through some things at home, and her mom wasn’t able to be there for her. She missed her badly. What girl truly doesn’t want her mama? For whatever reason, she was becoming closer to some of the girls that weren’t making good choices. Her attitude changed and her grades began to drop. I admit, I was hard on her. I gave her tough love simply because I saw the potential in her to do great things. I worried about her and talked to her several times about the change I had seen in her.
Until recently, I rarely saw this student. We would bump into each other during futsol games and that was about it. Now, we see each other quite often due to baseball season. I’ve enjoyed seeing her. I can tell that her demeanor has changed. She doesn’t seem to be the same child that left my room. She’s more like the one who began that school year.
To make a long story short (too late), the letter she sent to me was just what I needed. My job is not about a schedule or teammates. Its not about positions, lunches, and testing. My job is about making a difference. Regardless of how I felt at the end of last school year, I had proof today that I did make a difference. Those words in that letter erased all the hurt, frustration, and anger I have felt at work this week. It showed me what was important. It showed me that even though I don’t feel like it sometimes, even in the darkest moments of those school days, I still touch lives and make a difference.
I am blessed to be a teacher.
Please, if you don’t have children in school or don’t have contact with your former teachers, find one and thank him/her for what she/he does. If you do have a child with a teacher, its not too late. Thank that teacher.
With a lot of jobs, you clock out and that’s it. Not with teaching. Yes, we plan and we teach, but we do so much more that that. We love and we care. We show kindness and give respect when we don’t feel like it. We bring home the emotional stress of not being able to bring kids home with us because we know their needs are not met at home. We spend time worrying if they are going to be beaten when they get home because of the behavior report or bad grade. We cry when they cry. We laugh when they laugh. Teaching is not a job. Its a an opportunity. An opportunity to touch lives, to change lives, to give hope.
I am blessed to be a teacher.
Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
This was posted in May of 2009. Although many years ago, the theme remains. These children I have the privilege of spending time with each day are a blessing to me. I learn from them. They show me innocence. They teach me patience and kindness. And still…..we laugh together and we cry together. They love the days I mess up and wear two different shoes to school. They love the days they are rewarded with extra recess because, well, teachers like recess too. I love the days I hear, “NO! Finish the book today! We have to know what happens!” or the days I hear, “Mrs. Grimes, what was I thinking??? I’m definitely a better writer now!”
It’s true that some days are struggles. Yet, it’s on those days that I can show them how Christians handle the hard days. Opportunity. There’s so much opportunity to let these children know how precious, how valuable, how wonderful they are.
And I am thankful to have that opportunity.