Thanks, teach!

I laid my head on the pillow the other night and started thinking about how thankful I am for the teachers our daughters had this year and in past years. My hubby and I have been parents in the public system for 5 years now, and I started teaching teenagers 17 years ago.

Sometimes, a parent, student or colleague will compliment me on my teaching and I feel like a fraud. I often sidestep the compliment. I think about the mistake I had made the day before that was still bothering me, or the fact that I am just so tired nowadays that it is a wonder I can even do anything remarkable at all. I feel like a fraud because I am not living up to my own standards, and I think that if they really knew all of the decisions I had made that day, if they had seen every interaction I had had, and if they witnessed my teaching in front of the class, they probably would not compliment me, because I had a long running list of things in my head that I really needed to do differently and better.

I have seen the same phenomenon in my colleagues. I work with incredible professionals who are so hard on themselves that they often have difficulty accepting compliments. Often these compliments don’t even come close to expressing the true depths of their brilliance. It is quite confusing to witness and seems confusing for everyone involved.

I laid my head on the pillow and I thought about how grateful I am for these teachers who spent hours and hours with our precious girls. I thought about their valiant efforts to meet their own standards every day. I thought about how there were certainly days when they were disappointed with themselves. Definitely days when their students caused them frustration, concern and worry. Likely days when these teachers had to put their own personal lives and concerns on the back burner while they worked with their students. Perhaps even days where they had let their frustration get the best of them for a moment while they worked to keep 26+ little humans working productively on learning. I wondered how to best convey my deep appreciation for them.

I want to tell these teachers that it is not because I think they are perfect that I am grateful. No. I am grateful to them because they were willing to struggle every day to help our girls and the rest of their classmates learn all kinds of academic, social and personal lessons. They organized field trips, special efforts and memorable events. Our girls don’t know any different, and neither do most students because teachers, parent volunteers, administration and school staff all over manage to make school a special, productive and inspiring place to be.

I am so grateful to these teachers for their imperfection. For their true concern for their students. I am grateful to them for spending so much time with our precious children and for doing their very best to help them grow into wonderful humans. The imperfection and self-doubt are part of what creates amazing teachers, though it is uncomfortable fuel. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you do for our kids. We only see a tiny glimpse of it in person, but what blossoms in our children shows us so much. The gratitude in my heart overflows and leaks out of my eyes.

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