Sunday, May 1, 2016
Dear Teachers of My Children
Dear Teachers of My Children,
This past week alone, I've seen evidence of the impact you make on the lives of my kids. I see it when I open my inbox or their Friday folders (a task that always happens late on Sunday evenings... and certain Monday mornings) and read your weekly recaps. I see the papers that are checked, the stickers that are awarded, and the notes that are written.
What I don't see, of course, is the hundreds of moments that comprise any given school day. I can only imagine those. I imagine an elementary classroom full of students all needing something from you at the exact same time, much like when my own children seem to conspire and simultaneously request for me to play a game, prepare a snack, read a book, help with a homework problem, glue something that's broken, find them a band-aid, and answer a mind-numbingly obscure question.
The difference is that I have three children. You have a classroom full of them.
And yet, you answer the questions, you help with the homework problems, you individualize the instructions, you hand out the tiny plastic treasure chests when a wiggly tooth finally has been lost, you painstakingly explain how to multiply fractions, you measure benchmarks, and you put the pieces of the broken toy that was smuggled into the classroom as contraband in a small manila envelope, safe and secure, so these pieces arrive back at home safely for us parents to glue.
In your spare time, I'm guessing that you also tie a lot of shoelaces.
Even more, you don't just teach addition or long division, reading or writing, science or social studies. You teach problem solving and responsibility. You teach planning and preparation. You teach that growth comes from consistent effort. You teach test-taking skills and stamina, and even better, you then teach our kids that their test results aren't the most important measure of their worth.
These notes -- the ones you write on Post-It notes during the nooks and crannies of your busy days -- end up coming home and making their way into our children's rooms, their boxes of treasured items, and their hearts.
I can go on. There's the Title I reading specialist who hosted a special event at a local bookstore and gifted each participant with a book. There's the kindergarten teacher who deftly discerns whether complaints of a stomachache are from homesickness or from illness. There's the second grade teacher who speaks encouragement and structure into my daughter's life when learning doesn't come easily. There's the fifth grade teacher who coaches how to seamlessly transition into middle school next year.
Don't even get me started on the other helpers: the principal who motivates and holds special lunches with students as rewards, the cafeteria workers who know the names of an entire school-full of children, the custodians who mop the floors, the librarians who remember favorite titles, and the bus drivers who listen to their small, yet impressively loud, passengers while navigating traffic. (Driver of Bus 9, I heard about the vomiting episode that happened in the aisle last week and how you put a plastic bag over the mess until you could deal with it later. My condolences to you.)
Teachers and aides and helpers and support staff members: Thank you. You amaze me.
We deeply appreciate everything that we know you do. And, even if we can't always articulate it, we appreciate everything you do that we'll never see.