I think teachers have the toughest job in the world.
First of all, they have so many people to please. I can barely get out a lunch that pleases my family of four. My girls’ teachers have their peers, their principals, support staff, school boards, professors (because they can never stop taking classes, you know), bus drivers, the kids themselves – plus the parents. For each class there are all those parents calling and worrying and forgetting homework and complaining and on and on and on.
I don’t know how they do it. And my younger daughter’s teacher has five children to deal with when she goes home at night, too! My heart grows cold with fear at the very thought.
In my first two years of college I had about a dozen majors. Education was one of them. It was fun and interesting to learn how children learn and different methods of teaching complicated subjects. And when I would practice at being a teacher in front of students in my college class, they sat quietly and politely before applauding at the end. Yes, it was a great intellectual pursuit.
But then I got a little taste of reality. I did some pre-student teaching at an Ann Arbor-area middle school. Those kids were all wiggly and loud! They didn’t listen politely when I spoke, they got sleepy and laughed inappropriately and passed notes and rolled their eyes. And darn. They didn’t applaud at the end either.
I didn’t become a teacher, though I sometimes regret it. But I have no doubt it would have been very hard work. What a selfless and often thankless job they do.
My girls are still in elementary school, so the bonds with their teachers are very special. When one daughter cried every morning for the first three weeks of school, her teacher emailed me each day and helped me figure out the best, most positive way to prod her into her classroom.
When my other daughter had some issues that raised concerns, her teacher fought bravely alongside me to find the answers.
And how about that magic of taking my kids in September, figuring out what they need, spending half the year figuring out how to deliver the knowledge to my individual kiddo and then by June, voila! My kid comes out a whole lot smarter?
Each year, on the last day of school, my kids shed tears for what they understand they are losing – a teacher who cheered them on when they were behind, high-fived them when they did well, hugged them when they cried and sincerely cared about them all year long. I feel pretty sad too, but I assure my girls that they are really going to love their next teacher, too.
Thankfully there is still time to share the love this school year. So this week, I want to make sure our teachers really know how much we all appreciate them. It’s the least we can do for people who are truly doing the hardest job in the world.