Thank Your Teachers

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As you sit anxiously (not eagerly) watching the days of summer vacation dwindle away to nothing, thank your teachers.

I know you have yet to meet them, or if by chance you have met them, to interact with them in any real way yet, but thank them nonetheless. You may not have given them more than a passing thought as of now, but I guarantee they have already thought of you. How is your name pronounced? Do you like to read? Are groups comfortable for you? Is the test score on file indicative of your full capability? Did you travel at all this summer? Have you ever been outside of the state?

They have attended countless classes, meetings, and trainings in preparation for you. They are optimistic that this year they will finally get to that really awesome bonus unit they designed themselves . . . once they get through the required curriculum and test prep. They have been squirreling away classroom supplies- inspirational décor, art sets, YA books- , and will agonize over the placement of each within their classrooms. They hope you like what you see when you walk in. It wasn’t easy brightening up the bare, faded walls in this windowless room.

Last year was tough. And fun. But still tough. There was never enough time. Some students couldn’t be fully reached, despite countless attempts to save them from that “F”, that fight, that expulsion. This year will be different. They hope all their students will enter together and graduate together. No student left behind. There are so many possibilities for engaging, creative lessons when everyone wants to be here. Yes, this year will be different.

Before you even allow the thought of anything school-related to enter your mind, they will analyze rosters and seating charts until the names run together, all while imagining what the beings attached to these names are like. Once they think they have finally got the seating arrangement and carefully designed ability groupings just right, the rosters will be drastically changed, classes switched, electives done away with. That’s okay. They are used to it. Just a few more hours and things will be right as rain again.

Like you, they are picking out first-day-of-school outfits and asking themselves if this ensemble makes them look too old, if they are inviting ridicule by wearing this color, and what pair of shoes are best for standing 8+ hours in. They hope you like them, as teachers and as people. And are nice to them. Or at the very least aren’t cruel to them. They have college degrees, are masters of their fields, and have had amazing, enriching experiences that have led them here to you. But you hold a certain power. One they pray you don’t abuse. They don’t want to argue. They don’t want to yell. They have kids too. They don’t like it when their kids come home from school crying.

They have sacrificed for you. Both time and money. They are willing to do whatever it takes to help unlock that magical world within your mind. To help you realize and achieve those goals, dreams, aspirations. As you drag yourself out of bed at that painfully early time next week, and trudge into that cheerfully-decorated classroom, don’t grumble. Don’t scowl. Smile and say hello. And when the bell rings to dismiss you to that place you had previously thought you’d rather be, go thank your teacher. For the great intro. lesson, for getting your name right (or close), and for caring.

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(An amazing group of my former students. I’m hiding in the back.)


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