An open letter to teachers

Dear teachers,

You know you have an amazing job, right?  You also know how difficult it is (well, if you’re doing it right, it is).  Much has been written about your incredible influence, your impact on kids, how kids are our future.  I won’t belabor that.  I’d like to tell you something different, if I may; a few things I’ve observed over the years of being in a variety of types of classroom settings.

1. Those kids that are true children now will someday be your friends and peers.  Or, they will be the parents of your children’s kids. Seeing them that way now prevents you from treating them in a way that might be condescending or unkind.  These kids are your future friends.

2. Therefore, remember that their spirit is more important than your content.  Yes, we all have educational goals for them, &  for ourselves as teachers, but don’t let that get in the way when a child really needs a little sensitivity.

3.  Please, I beg you, try something new.  Have you used this project a million times?  assigned the same book?  used that same worksheet?  Please, please try something new.  If you fail, who cares?  The earth will still rotate.  The kids won’t care…they’ll see someone who tried.  And parents will love that you innovate.

4. Hate the question “When are we ever going to use this”?  (I do, too!) But kids are really asking, how is this relevant?  So…tell them!  There have been times when I was teaching something that even I asked that question.  So, I tweaked it; or dropped it.  That question pushes us to answer it…and it can be answered.  All skills are transferable…it’s up to you to show your kids that.

5. This one keeps us sharp: most kids are incredible observers.  They might not always perceive correctly, but they know what’s important to us, they learn our attitudes, they intuit our values.  Teachers don’t have the luxury (is it?) of going in, doing the job, and leaving.  It’s so much more than that.  It’s about your person-hood, too.  Who you are is just as important as what you’re teaching.  And because of that, the job is weighty.

So tomorrow morning, when you go into your classroom, know that your day is filled with great opportunity.  Someone’s looking at you bright-eyed, another apathetically, perhaps, but you will influence them.  Years from now, they might not remember your content, but they’ll remember your compassion.  Maybe they’ll even pay for your coffee when they tell you that.



3 thoughts on “An open letter to teachers

  1. The other day at work, we started talking about our favorite teachers, and why they were. It was usually something insignificant – i.e. one woman said that her favorite used to say, “There’s my beautiful girl,” whenever she entered the room. A much needed boost to a teen’s flagging self esteem. Such an important job. Thank you teachers!

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