It was Teacher 🍎Appreciation Week, and you know what that means? Donuts 🍩in the lounge. Surprises in our mailboxes. Frames for our Facebook profile pics. The week is intended to 💡shine a light on our profession, to recognize our efforts. Want to know a secret? Teachers don’t need a week. Don’t get me wrong. We 😍love the love. We read and reread the thank you notes. We eat those 🍩donuts. But- we’re not in it for those things. We’re in it for one thing- plain and simple—the kids.🎉
The energy within a school setting is unlike any other workplace. It brings connections. 🌟It broadens horizons. 🌟It sparks courage. 🌟It feels exhilarating and devastating- often within the same hour. 🌟It challenges. 🌟It enriches. 🌟It fills us with both joy and sadness. 🌟It brews hope. 🌟It lives within us after the final bell rings.🌟
This is my thirtieth year in the classroom. 🥳Yep- you read that right. When my students tell me that I don’t look old enough to have been a teacher that long, I tell them that it’s the hair color. 😂Honestly, I use those innocent comments as teachable moments to tell them about 🏃🏻♀️exercise, 💧hydration, and 😴sleep. When you work with kids, everything becomes a teachable moment. It has to. That’s why we’re there.
Over the years, I’ve had every kind of student you could imagine. Kids who strive for straight A grades. Kids who don’t know if they finished their homework or if they even had any. 😉Those who will partner with any other child and make it work. ❤️Those who say horrible things to others- followed with laughter. 😡Those who always have the latest and greatest fad. Those who hope there is food in the cupboard. 😢Kids with parents who sit in the audience for every activity. Kids who take care of siblings or sick grandparents while parents are working the night shift. They’ve all been in my classroom.
Some of them graduated from high school. Others dropped out. My former students worked hard to earn their GED or finish medical school. 🤩Want to know another secret? Their childhoods didn’t dictate their endings. I’ve had privileged kids drop out. I’ve had kids with difficult home lives grow up to thrive. 🙌🏻They write their own narratives- sometimes because of their advantages, sometimes despite them. ‼️
My former students have become part of the tapestry that is our world. They are 📚authors and actors. They serve your 🍴food and fix your 🚗cars and ✂️cut your hair. They host podcasts and play professional ⚾️sports. They sell drugs. They are brain surgeons and nurses. They are incredible 😍parents. They check in and out of rehab. They are designers and construction workers. They are active in government. Some are 🍎teachers, like me. Some spent time behind bars, learning lessons that I couldn’t teach them. Some died from diseases and accidents. 😢One died during a shootout with police in a hotel room meth lab.
My former students live in big 🏙cities, small towns, and countries around the world now. But, when they were in my classroom, I had a front-row seat. I was the one who heard about the new 🐶pets. I was the one who knew that he didn’t have 🍝food over the weekend. I was the one who knew how much that 🥇medal earned at the track meet meant. I got to have a 🎨gallery wall in my classroom full of pictures made especially for me. I received the 📝notes on my desk that asked me to pray for her family. I got to see those 🤩light bulb moments when learning clicked. I got to 🎉celebrate when dreams were realized and have difficult conversations when dreams were crushed. ☹️
I have a file with thirty years worth of 💌letters written from kids that I pull out on those tough days when I wonder if I’m making a difference. We all have those days- not just teachers. But, you don’t have to be a teacher to make a difference in kids’ lives. What if…we all make a difference? They need positive role models and mentors. ✅Don’t be afraid to jump in. Volunteer in a school. Donate supplies to a classroom. Become a pen pal. Attend musical and theatre performances. Cheer in the stands at sporting events. Kids need all of us because they grow up to be one of us. 💖