As the school year starts up and I find myself outside a classroom and a school I am struggling to reconcile the empathy I feel for my colleagues, the sadness that comes with missing my students and the traditions and excitement of a new school year, and the relief I have to not be carrying the constant, crushing weight I remember so vividly. My normal response throughout a school year would be to help a teacher friend by lending an ear or a helping hand after school, or to bring them coffee and a muffin in the morning. I would be offering a smile, a pat on the back, or a hug to a student in the hallway or in my room, and making sure they felt safe and cared for each time they walked into and out of the building. In the absence of those little things my hope is that the small gestures and decisions I can make each day in my current position will impact teachers and students, and help us move closer to my vision of what being an educator or a student could look like some day. I write these thoughts with the names and faces of my colleagues and lovely students in my mind, but I am also writing it to all the teachers and students who deserve nothing less.
To My Teacher Friends Around the World,
I know things aren’t always easy, and that the career you have selected is often one of the most rewarding and yet most all-consuming. Please know how much I empathize with you and appreciate you. I will try each day to do at least one thing to make your life better and support you in some way.
I wish for you…
- to have all the resources (tools, materials, thought-partnership, learning opportunities, time and space, in-building support…) that you need to be successful in your job each day.
- to have an exciting idea that you are passionate about pursuing in your classroom and your teaching practice, and that you feel supported and empowered to make this idea a reality.
- to find joy in the “small” things of the day – like a smile from a student, a funny joke you share with your class, a celebration with a kiddo about something new they learned or achieved, or a great planning session with a teammate.
- to find purpose in your days and to have at least one thing you look forward to every week.
- to have the elusive, guilt-free balance we never seem to capture but always start a year attempting to find.
- a personal life full of people who support and understand the work you do, and who give you a reason to put work aside and be present in the relationships and activities that fill your bucket and make you whole.
- to know, at all times, that the work you do is appreciated and that you are a respected, valuable professional.
- to feel trusted and empowered to do what you know is best for kids, and to feel safe enough and have places to go to reach out when you want help or guidance.
My beautiful students, I wish for you…
- a safe and fun place to go every day, where you feel valued and respected at all times.
- days chock full of learning and growing, not just academically but socially and emotionally.
- adults who model kindness, compassion, and excitement while challenging you to be the very best human you can be.
- opportunities to take ownership of your learning and follow your interests in a way that cultivates passion and honors who you are while pushing you to explore new things.
- an education system that prepares you to step into the world as a forever learner who contributes to making it a more wonderful place.
- to remember that I really do mean what I said at the end of each year when I sent you off after one last end-of-the-day hug with tears in my eyes – I am always your teacher and I am always here for you, no matter what.
Though our community is spread out physically now it doesn’t change what we built and experienced together. We may not see each other as often as I’d like, but we are always rooting for each other and I am always thinking of you – when I see your favorite video game character or a great book you’d like, when I hear our class song on the radio and hear your voice singing your favorite part, or when I get asked to make a choice that could impact your school experience – you help me stay grounded in what matters and stay true to the reason I became a teacher. I believe in you and in the things we learned together. Hold those learnings close and Follow Your Feet.