This week I have been lucky enough to have the chance (which is rare these days) to chat with two separate teacher friends. We traded ideas, and we traded woes. We discovered shared troubles and struggles.
It felt good. They are some of my people. Some of the people I can share my “I don’t even know . . .” stories with and be met with grace instead of judgment. Some of the people I can vent a little to and walk away feeling a whole lot lighter.
In fact, our brief conversations will get me through to Thanksgiving break because they were reminders I’m not alone in my hardships or my quest for teaching greatness. So, I wouldn’t change much about our conversations. Except, thinking back on them, I would have been a little more intentional with how I let them end.
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See, I’m better with the written word than in-the-moment speech. So here’s what I wish I would have added to our goodbyes. For them to read, and for you too, because if you’re a teacher or a person who has anything to do with a child, you likely need to hear this, too:
You are doing great things. You are affecting great change.
Even though right now you may only see the tiny shiftings, with both students and fellow teachers alike, those are the building blocks of absolute greatness. Greatness just takes time . . . and maybe occasional tears.
You are a wonderful teacher. You are teaching those kiddos so much more than academics. Let’s face it, they can’t always name their learning, but it’s obvious to those who knew them last year and have seen the growth in them this year. True, you can’t take full credit for that, but you can—and should—take partial credit. A large serving of credit, even. They are growing in their thought processes and their ability to regulate their emotions and behaviors as well as in their academics, and so much of that is due to you.
I see you. I see you on all those days you’re here early and on those days you feel you’re barely making it but show up with a smile anyway. I see you fighting hard for kids when you see a need and working to figure out how to fight for kids when you know there is a need but you don’t have it quite figured out yet. I see you staying late, giving everything you can to make tomorrow, and next week, as close to perfect as teaching can be for your own kiddos and your lucky coworkers, too.
Goodness knows we are all extra hard on ourselves, but your small wins? I see them, too.
Even when you don’t and when you feel like no one else does either. I see (and feel) how indispensable you are to the rest of us and those precious kiddos too. I’m thankful, daily, that you’re doing this teaching life with me and that I get to pick your brain, learn from you, vent with you, and see you impact the lives of our kids.
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The kids adore you. I’ve never met a single one who didn’t. Even when they don’t act like it. Even on those days when they do wacky things and attempt to test your crazy. You are their safe place, their comfort zone. They know you’ve got them and sometimes that brings the comfort level for all the things—good and bad alike, but mostly good. And when there is some bad, well, that’s when you show them how much you really do have their backs with some of that tough love the best teachers can dish out.
Because, ultimately, you are the best.
Oh, I know you don’t always feel like it, but you never fall short of it. Even on the rough days, you are giving your all and doing wonderful, amazing, world-changing things. One kid at a time. One team at a time. One blessed teacher friend at a time.
So, thanks. Thanks for making my wild days feel more normal and reminding me to come back tomorrow ready to try with renewed gusto. Thanks for encouraging the best in me and the good I have to give. Thanks for showing up and pushing through and being great.
You rock, and no one says it enough. So . . . save this so you can read it again later.
Originally published on the author’s blog