As I was sitting here at my desk, in the midst of the Holiday Break, I started to reflect on this year and all that I’ve experienced. This isn’t a unique thing. I think we all do this around the New Year. We often think about the amazing things that happened this year, the challenges we faced, and what our goals are for the next year. As I was playing all these things through my head, I started to think about everything I am grateful for, and everything in my life that I appreciate.
So this is an open letter to you, teacher. Because I appreciate you.
I am not a teacher. I mean, I act in the role of “teacher” in a lot of ways. I help lead our team, foster growth, and educate others in my day-to-day role here at Teach Better Team. I’ve always been in management positions, training others. I’ve coached, and I’ve taught a couple years at the collegiate level. But I am not in the classroom, in the trenches, like you. I’ve never hid this fact, and I never will. I am proud of the journey I’ve taken to get where I am. But even more so, I am proud of the fact that I get to work with amazing teachers, like you, every day.
I have always had a respect for teachers. Even when I was in high school, bored out of my mind, with no desire to pay attention to anything they said, I respected my teachers. Later on in college, even when I skipped classes, never turned in work, and eventually failed out, I still respected my professors (although, I realize that was all a pretty poor way of showing it.) As the years went on, and I went into a variety of professions myself, my respect for the work educators do only grew stronger. After having children of my own, that respect grew immensely, as I began having nightmares about a room filled with 30 of my kids… <shimmers with freight>
It’s always been there, a certain level of respect. But a little over 4 years ago, that all changed.
Four years ago, my good friend Chad came to me for help with creating an ebook to share a new method of teaching he had implemented in his classroom. Long story short, that method eventually became The Grid Method, and for the past 4+ years, Chad and I have traveled all over sharing it with teachers. Along the way, we’ve been able to convince a few others to join us, and we began sharing more and more ideas, training on a wide variety of best practices and strategies, and developing relationships with thousands of teachers from all over the United States, and around the world.
And so, my respect for you has changed to appreciation.
It used to be that I respected what you did because I figured “it can’t be too easy to wrangle 25-30 kids all at once.” Now, however, that is the least of the reasons for why I respect and appreciate you so much. Yes, managing a classroom full of kids is tough, no doubt. But doing that well, and for the right reasons, that is simply incredible to me.
You see, managing a room full of kids is something someone can work to get good at. They can use a variety of tactics, or instill fear and push authoritarian discipline to rule each 45 minute period. What YOU do, though, is so much more than that. You don’t just “manage” a room full of kids…you inspire them.
You encourage them. You embrace who they are. You instill in them the foundational qualities that will make them the people they will one day become.
You TEACH them.
You don’t just teach them the content that your state requires, you teach them life. You teach them the skills they will need, not only to get a job and contribute to society, but to pursue their passions. You embed in them, the confidence they will need to chase their dreams. You guide them through those challenging years of their lives, as they figure out who they are and who they will become. You give them hope that they can help build a world they will be proud of. You give them strength to fight through the challenges in their lives and persevere. You give them the tools they will need to navigate this crazy world we live in, and the know-how to properly utilize those tools. You don’t settle for “good enough” when it comes to their growth. You expect more, you push them to be more, and you strive to give more for them every day.
You see, I’ve always respected you, because I was taught that I should. I respected you because I’ve always believed education was important, even when it didn’t work well for me. I’ve always respected you…but now I appreciate you.
I appreciate the nights you spend planning out tomorrow’s activities.
I appreciate the sleep you lose over that one student that is struggling.
I appreciate how you go out of your way to understand what’s going on in your students’ home lives.
I appreciate that you arrive earlier than your contract states, so you can be better prepared to be amazing for your students.
I appreciate the hours and hours and hours you spend at conferences, professional development seminars, and taking online courses to be Better today than you were yesterday.
I appreciate the days you stay late to meet with your colleagues to improve your craft, or with a parent to discuss a concern, or with a student because they’re struggling and need extra attention.
I appreciate your relentless pursuit of Better.
I appreciate your passion for being there for your students, even when they don’t realize the impact you’re having on them yet.
I appreciate your love for what you do, even when it feels like nothing can go as you planned it.
I appreciate how you fight for what’s best for your students, even if it means more stress for you.
I appreciate that you do the most important job in the world, for what I believe is ridiculously low pay.
I appreciate that your “Summers off” are spent attending events, going back to school for another degree, and working tireless to reflect and improve everything you do.
I appreciate how hard you work when we’re together in a workshop for 8 hours.
I appreciate that you put in an 8-10 hour day, come home, and spend an hour (or more) with us every Thursday on #MasteryChat.
I appreciate that you do all this with no expectation of fame or fortune.
I appreciate that you have made me a Better person over the past 4 years.
I appreciate you.
I appreciate you.
I appreciate you.
Happy Holidays, Teacher.