Today marks the end of Teacher Appreciation Week. (Yes, I am aware this is Friday and there’s still tomorrow, but let’s face it, this is the real end.) In my organized mind, I would have posted this on Monday morning to greet you first thing. But that would have meant I actually wrote it, which I didn’t because this week has been trash for me. Not in any grand way, or even in a way I can explain, just in the can’t-get-things-accomplished-that-aren’t-related-to-work way.
And my work is that of a high school teacher.
I could go on about the struggles of online learning, frazzled and unprepared parents, students who have become breadwinners or apathetic, or teachers losing sleep wondering how all of their kids are doing mentally and emotionally. But that’s not the purpose of this.
This has a bigger purpose than frustrations, problems, and complaints that can’t be solved on this webpage or even in this hour.
Instead this is a call to action for something you can do: Drop a note to a teacher who meant something to you and tell them.
Post something on Facebook. Make an Instagram story. Throw up a dance on TikTok. Shoot the teacher a DM or, even better, mail them a letter that can be kept forever. Just send them something.
Those words are the most meaningful thing you can ever send your teacher. I know this because I still have them. All of them. Each note and drawing, every gift and card. I even have pictures of cakes students made me. Being a high school teacher means that gifts and nice words are few and far between, so when I have been lucky enough to receive them, I know it really means something huge.
The feeling a teacher has when a student, current or former, acknowledges that you were something to them is unlike anything that could ever be described in words, photos or paintings. This is because the care, worry and love that went into that student is indescribable as well.
Over the past 14 years of teaching, I have had a little over 2,600 students in my care. These students were mine to assign homework, quizzes, tests and chapter readings. I led them through lockdown and active shooter drills, fire drills, field trips and pep rallies.
Outside of their class day, I attended their graduations, proms, senior cruises, talent shows, plays and sporting events. There were club meetings I have run, ski trips (and the accompanying hospital trips), and academic contests I was lucky to help with.
Past that, I traveled with 68 students to 5 foreign countries. The number of letters I wrote for recommendation for college admission or scholarships can’t even be counted. Ditto, the number of professional references I have been glad to give.
After graduation, I have been invited to college graduations and house warmings. I had the honor of being asked to visit a former student during their Peace Corps trip and be in the wedding as a bridesmaid to another. I have been to another student’s wedding as well, just last year. Family dinners and meetups for coffee have been extended, and I have enjoyed everyone.
There have been the former students I have buried as well, including one that wrecked me at the deepest level one can be. I have been there for each loss and said goodbye at their side, hugged their family and cried with their friends.
These are the things I have done as a teacher, now almost halfway through what I hope to be a 30-year career. And I’m not even a great teacher. I work with and know teachers that can instruct circles around me.
The point is it is a huge privilege and honor to be a teacher. Everyone who really and truly knows a teacher has no doubt that we do it for our kids – not money or recognition.
Still … it’s nice to be recognized all the same.
Please reach out to a teacher in your life and let them know you appreciate what they did for you.
What could just B more kind?
The article Tell a Teacher You Actually Do Like Them was written by Elizabeth Schap and first appeared on just B more.
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