Can’t we all remember a good teacher? My memories of school are based on the teachers I had, and how they approached their craft. I can still recall the most profound learning experiences, and the assignments that triggered that learning. Furthermore, I can still feel the passion of those teachers: it dripped into the lessons, the flow of the days, how they connected with students in class, and even in the gift of their feedback. Just as vividly, I can also recall teachers that were not engaged. Those school years were much longer. In order to get through, I had to rely on my own personal motivation to learn. I can tell you, I draw from those experiences now in my corporate life when creating and delivering training programs. I rely on those experiences when I work with clients in healing. And I relive those moments with my kids as they go through the school system now.
Last year we had a double whammy. Both kids had a tough year, and you could see the impact — at the end of each day two unenthusiastic students stood in front of me. Trying to get them to talk about their day was like pulling teeth; the fight to do homework or get out of bed to get on the bus was a daily struggle in which one of us, or all three, would inevitably end up frustrated and in tears. People are quick to complain and blame the teachers in this case. I tend to look at it as an opportunity. After all, in life we will meet people who challenge us and this includes teachers. We spent the year working at strategies to support and help keep the kids engaged, but I admit I was happy that the school year ended in June. We were all tired.
Fast forward to this new school year: the teacher gods are smiling at us; we hit the jackpot. The kids bounce in the house after a school day, excitedly talking over one another to be the first to share the day’s events. Unprompted, they want to talk about what they learned, or something funny that happened. The best part is that they are more focused and determined to get their homework done, and the only fights in the morning are arguing with them about how “no, you can’t wear shorts today, it’s only three degrees outside”.
This is amazing to me. And so I shared it: I wrote an email to each teacher working with my kids this year to thank them for the profound difference they are making in the lives of my kids. It’s a tough job to teach a class full of kids, each with their own learning style and many with unique learning difficulties, all this with limited resources and the added stress of parents who are quick to complain.
It was a little act, it took minutes, it was heartfelt and I felt great hitting send on those notes. So far, I’ve received one response. The teacher was moved. The tone of her response was filled with relief, for her it reinforced the feeling that she was making a difference. It struck me that this woman, who has been miraculous in changing my son’s attitude towards physical education, was herself filled with doubt over her success in actually impacting the lives of her students. So, in this light I realize there is a lack of building each other up. I am challenging myself and all of you reading this: Go out and tell an amazing woman what a great job she’s doing. If someone is having an impact on your life, don’t assume they know, tell them! It will brighten their day and yours, too! Guaranteed!