Take Time to Thank a Teacher

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

~William James

During this busy week of giving thanks, there’s no better person to show appreciation for than a child’s teacher. And it only takes ten minutes, a pen and a piece of paper.

As a classroom mom (I think it was eight times in seven years), I got to know many great teachers. The one thing that struck me in all those years was how much teachers appreciate a simple note of thanks. That’s why a note at Thanksgiving means so much – because it’s more about the thanks vs. the thing we feel compelled to give at Christmas or during teacher appreciation week.

Three of those teachers – and many others I know – keep a special drawer full of thank you notes. Notes from kids they taught 5 years ago. Kids they still remember 12 years later. Kids in their classroom today. Thank you notes from parents who cared enough to say thanks for the simplest thing they did to help their child. Families who took the time to recognize a teacher’s hard work and say “thank you.”

Teachers do more than we know or ever see.  They skillfully supervise 25 squirmy kids for six hours a day. They wipe noses, comfort tummy aches and listen to our kids’ endless stories. They sculpt minds. They re-teach a lesson in the front of the room but know exactly what’s going on in the back. They use their own money to fund a science project. They wake up worrying about the kids who need more. They stay up late correcting tests. They care and connect with each of their “kids” 180 days a year.

But teachers are human and they have bad days too – just like parents do. Days when the kids couldn’t focus. The math lesson didn’t go  as planned. The fire drill ruined the day’s rhythm. The projector died. The kids needed more. The parent email felt like a knife. On days like these, teachers can’t hide in their cubby, close their office door or take a long lunch. They still have to be there for 25 kids until the bell rings.

It’s at the end of those days when teachers take a breath, open their special drawer of notes and read them again, one by one. Often with tears in their eyes, they remember how much they love teaching. How much good they are doing. How much kids love them. How much parents need them. How much they are appreciated.

Take ten minutes today and write a note of thanks to one of your child’s teachers. Or even better, have your children write a note.  Their teacher will appreciate it more than you know.

I’m taking time to write one now. I hope you’ll join me.

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