As the end of the school year gets closer and closer, I wanted to take a minute to recognize all the wonderful teachers out there. You don’t get paid nearly as much as you are worth and the knowledge, memories, and skills you impart on our children will never be appreciated to the extent they are deserved.
Now, I’d like to take a minute to recognize all the not-so-wonderful teachers out there. You may not know who you are, but the kids who had you certainly do.
For me, that teacher was in second grade. I was young enough to not yet know I didn’t automatically *have* to like my teacher, and I didn’t understand why she didn’t seem to like me, no matter how nice I was, how well I performed on my homework, or how many times I raised my hand with the right answer. I spent many schooldays frustrated.
My mom met this teacher at a PTA night. It was until years later that she confessed to me that after meeting her, she called the principal and asked him to switch me to the other second grade teacher. She told me it was clear just from the one meeting that this woman, who had been a been a teacher for more than 40 years at this point, was very stuck in her ways, counting the days until retirement, and didn’t really like children at all. Apparently many parents made similar requests to swap their children out of her class in that time frame, and the principal was overwhelmed.
My mother was ready to go to bat for me, when my dad pulled her aside and said, “Look, there are going to be bad teachers in her life. Just like there are going to be people in her life who she doesn’t like or who doesn’t like her. Or who are incompetent, rude, or just mean. Keep in this class so she can learn to deal with this early and not go into life expecting everyone to always love her, and basing her happiness on that.”
That was a hard lesson and it was a hard year. But ultimately, it was an important lesson. I realized it didn’t matter if the teacher liked me. And if I was nice, and did my homework, and knew the answers, I didn’t need her to like me. I was doing those things for me. And my dad was right. I ran into plenty of other not-so-wonderful teachers, and later, coworkers, and I didn’t let them bother me. That one teacher experience has never left me.
Thank a Teacher
So thank a teacher today. For being wonderful. For being terrible. But most important for the lessons they teach us, intentionally or not. And remember, there’s always next year.
Cricket Media Mama would like to take this opportunity to thank her high school chemistry teacher for this gem: “I only tell bad element jokes periodically because all the good ones argon and I had to barium.” He slapped his neon that one, but it got no reaction.
(Artwork by Sim Gellman)