I started my career in education as a classroom teacher and these years were some of the best of my life. For the last 12 years I have been out of the classroom, working as a literacy coach, getting the opportunity to work beside teachers and support them in a small way with the giant job that they are doing. I also get a behind the scenes sneak peek at what goes on in their world and this, coupled with the fact that many of these teachers are also teachers of my own children, has given me such an appreciation for the work that goes into being an educator today. This work has changed so dramatically in the 12 years I have been out of the classroom, to say nothing of how much it has changed in the undisclosed amount of years it has been since I have been a student. This one is for the teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and everyone that fills that role of teaching kids..my hat is off to you all (especially in January, or around Christmas, or right before a break or when the moon is full…).
To the awesome educators, here are all the ways this mom loves you:
I love you for making my children feel important in the world outside of our home. I see you taking an interest in their lives, remembering that they are in karate or gymnastics or in a play and you ask them about it. Which means you are tracking the lives of possibly 30 kids at a time. You give them jobs in the classroom that teach them responsibility so I can say these words, “You have jobs in the classroom and I bet you don’t whine about them so don’t whine at home.” So helpful. I watch you really see my child and I know that they feel seen. For this I thank you.
I love you for putting your students first. I see you scarfing your lunch down at that kidney-shaped table as you get materials ready for the student who will be spending that lunch hour getting extra math/writing/reading/rewrite- their-entire-Honors-English-essay help. I see you staying after school making plans for individual students to help give them a shot of getting past a tricky spot. I see you spending your nights not only supervising after school events, but actually attending events of students outside of school. Watching my own child’s 1st grade soccer game is sometimes an exercise in patience for me as a parent, and seeing you attend just because my child invited you makes my heart want to burst.
I love you for sharing your lives with your students and giving them a different perspective on the world. When my kid comes home excited about something totally new, like creating a crazy design out of PVC pipe as well as promotional materials for said invention because you have made this exciting, I am just drowning in joy. You teachers come from different kinds of families and backgrounds and interests and through you and your stories my kids get to know about different people and places and ways of living. I love this. And along these same lines, I hope the parents of my former students were OK with me influencing a generation of my students to rock out to Air Supply.
I love you for understanding when they come without a permission slip/mittens/math homework and not judging, just supporting and helping. Sometimes we don’t have it all together around here, but we are trying. I know that you have my back on the other side when you send that second permission slip before I even ask or send a second math homework book just in case we can’t find the first one on a given night. I also appreciate you checking the lost and found repeatedly for our lost whatevers. We are forever indebted to you for filling in our gaps.
I love you for keeping the fun in childhood even when testing and standards threaten to squeeze this out. Lumberjack day, pizza parties, field trips, whole school olympics, mini-courses to learn for two days anything you want with choices so endless I don’t know how I would pick (I’m torn between Day at the Spa and Tasty Tours), goofy birthday celebrations or book-it-and-bag-it all day reading days or ending the day with a dance party. Keeping the fun in the days of our kiddos is what they will always remember, so much more than the math or science. Childhood is short, thank you for embracing it.
I love you for being the champion of the underdog…and the average joe… and the high flyer. I see how you love all your students and want more for all of them. You see the needs of each and strive to meet them. You really know them and are willing to fight for each and every one, sometimes when it seems that no one else does. Thank you for being there for them all…even the ones that are not always easily loveable.
I love you for refusing to be overwhelmed and instead just doing the next best thing you can do for your students. So much is thrown at you and so many in the world are just willing to find what is wrong with education. So much lands on your lap and society just wants you to somehow fix it. Among this you just quietly continue to do your work day in and day out. I see you finding the joy in your students and I know that this bolsters you. Thank you for your focus on the work, for leaving the stress at the door, for keeping your eye on the prize.
I love you for sometimes ignoring me when I am clouded by being so close to my kiddo, your perspective makes me see my child more clearly. Our kids are taking a stab at being out in the world each day in your classroom, sometimes they will make a miss and sometimes those misses are big. Thank you for helping them negotiate this world and gently steering them back when needed. Thank you for being honest about their behavior and needs so we can do the same. Knowing we are working together makes all the difference….go Team Us.
I love you for constantly striving to learn and grow so things can be better for your students even though this means more work for you. I have seen you bringing stacks of books home, reading constantly over the summer, attending countless classes on your own time, getting degrees that are expensive and get you nowhere financially, trying new ways of teaching that your literacy coach finds and that you might think are a little crazy, and constantly challenging yourself to keep on top of the best research out there. You do none of this for yourself, it is for your students. Your minds are wide open and learning and therefore your students’ minds can be too.
I love you for being that person my child can’t wait to see. I thought I always would be my child’s favorite, but surprisingly I am A-OK with you taking this spot in my child’s world for this year. Your word might override mine in some areas, but I am just fine with you being the end-all-be-all of math instruction if it makes my child excited about math. I am happy to learn a new way to support you and my child or to stand back and say, “hmm….ask your teacher tomorrow, mom’s not sure” then I go back to being mom. I love that my child can’t wait to get to school to see you each day and doesn’t want to leave 4K without telling you he loves you one more time or spends his morning wondering if your hair will be curly or straight today. A child who wants to be at school each day can’t help but learn so much.
I adore you dear teachers, I am so lucky to have you in my kids’ lives and to get to be a part of your work world is an extra bonus. Know that you are loved and that we parents have your backs. Thanks for being in the trenches with us as we guide our children forward through this often crazy world.
With love and affection,
A Grateful Mom
(This post originally ran on Hiding in the Closet with Coffee.)
About the author: I’m Amy Betters-Midtvedt and I write along with my friend and former teaching partner Erin Loritz over at Hiding in the Closet With Coffee. We are two teachers and moms who love to write almost as much as we love to teach kids about writing. Our blog is about bringing parents together to share our experiences and find our joy…and sometimes joy is found hiding out in the closet with our coffee. You can read more about each of us here. You can also find us hiding out over at Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and on Twitter.