I was once in your midst- copying papers, squatting next to desks, sitting through meetings, greeting students with smiles. I know about your long hours and I remember what it’s like to grade the never-ending stack of papers.
You had a year to remember, complete with triumph and a few tears. Somehow in the middle of assessments and bureaucracy, you were given the gift of being able to sit back and quietly remember why you became an educator in the first place. Now, summer is just in reach and you’ll finally get to sip your coffee and leisurely watch the Today Show. But before you fling yourself too quickly out of the school doors into the summer break that awaits you, I hope you’ll take a moment and hear this important message.
Very simply: thank you.
Thank you for taking time to get to know your students’ personalities and interests, and sitting and listening to what they have to say. You heard knock-knock jokes from the little ones, you heard all about an older student’s winter formal dress. You went out of your way to pay attention to them and they noticed.
Thank you for keeping change in your desk drawer for the child in tears without lunch money.
Thank you for thinking outside of the box to reach your students, for incorporating technology when it’s easier to hand out a packet, for integrating art and music into your literacy instruction, for making a lesson come to life on the basketball court. Thank you for going out of your way to be an excellent educator and fostering an environment that produces thinkers and learners.
Thank you for remembering that a standardized test score is a number on a piece of paper that cannot fully measure the growth of that English Language Learner.
Thank you for going to that student’s soccer game and hugging their sweaty neck afterward. They’ll remember that, you know.
Thank you for keeping your chill while you deal with PENCILS.
“Can I borrow a pencil?” No.
“Can I sharpen my pencil?” No.
“Can I write in colored pencil?” No.
“Can I click my mechanical pencil a hundred times?” No.
“I forgot my pencil.” No.
“Can I take notes with this 2mm long pencil that has both ends sharpened?” WHAT. JUST NO.
Thank you for remembering that your students- whether 5 years old or 15- are still children. As they grow and figure out the world around them, your influence will stay with them for years to come.
Thank you for keeping a straight face during your reading group when you received the handwritten note saying, “I was trying to fart and I pooped on my self can I get new pants from the office.” Teacher, you deserve your summer.
Thank you for wearing all the hats of an educator: counselor, nurse, life coach, housekeeper, judge and jury, public relations manager, cheerleader, advocate, policeman, historian, technology troubleshooter, coach, and friend. You should be making a gazillion dollars, but you don’t need me to tell you that. You already know.
When you look back on this school year, it could be easy to remember the heated conference you had with a parent or the kid who flipped over a desk or the IEP meeting that lasted until dusk. Make the effort to also remember the parent who fought tears explaining what you’ve meant to their family. Remember the kid who would barely talk at the beginning of the school year and bravely gave an entire PowerPoint presentation in May. And remember those lessons that you knocked out of the ball park, observing students as they make connections and ask meaningful questions.
May your summer break include a lunch break that lasts longer than 20 minutes and quality time with friends and family without a broken pencil in sight.
You certainly deserve it.