One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is the realization that you are having a positive impact on your students. Dealing with things like paperwork, grueling schedules, discipline issues, budget cuts, and campus politics can erode your energy, patience, and motivation. But every once in a while, you receive a token or gesture of thanks that lifts your spirits and reminds you why you entered this profession in the first place.
Over my twenty years in the classroom, I saved every thank you note I received from students in a scrapbook. I was looking through it yesterday on the first anniversary of my retirement and was moved by the touching sentiments expressed in those messages. Some were written as part of Teacher Appreciation Week and others were simply spontaneous overtures of gratitude. I have included some of them on a new Student Thank Yous page which you can view here.
As in any other vocation, a teacher’s sense of purpose and validation must come in the act of serving others (see my blog entry on “Teaching as Vocation”). But it does feel good when the people you are serving show their appreciation. This is especially true with kids. I was more than an instructor to many of them, particularly those who came from disadvantaged backgrounds. Sometimes I was social worker, clergyman, mentor, father figure, or friend. Reviewing my scrapbook reminded me of the importance and effectiveness of all those roles.
Save the notes and drawings from your students. They will help you in times of struggle and doubt. The few who make the effort to thank you are speaking for many others who don’t. Believe in what you are doing. You are making a difference.
Copyright (c) 2019 Torin Finney. All rights reserved.
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