Is It Teacher Appreciation Week?

Kiara and Gabe's teacher bouquet. 
I think it’s Teacher Appreciation Week, or Teacher Appreciation Day, or maybe it was last week, or yesterday, or maybe not. No one seems to know. No one seems to be able to schedule this thing. Obviously, this is not something run by teachers.

Last week, I helped my kids thank their teachers. We gathered flowers, gave fruit, made cookies, and cards, but these little things are so small compared to all teachers do for my kids. I appreciate them today and every day. I hope they know this. Because without them, I couldn’t be a teacher. I couldn’t work alongside some of the most phenomenal people I’ve ever met.

Just this week, these are a few things my colleagues have done: helped students struggling with family substance abuse issues, advocated for safe gender-neutral bathrooms in their school, proctored tests that attempt to make students into a number, created and taught review lessons for AP exams, provided lunches and snacks, coached teams of athletes and poets, produced and directed performances, given high fives and smiles, graded papers, taken attendance, entered grades, answered emails, scheduled field trips, and planned these last weeks of school when all of us are just ready for it to be summer.

They all keep me going. There are amazing teachers at every school, and there are students who need amazing teachers at every school. So, to all of the teachers who inspired me back when I was a student, and to all of the teachers who do their jobs with professionalism and integrity day in and day out, and to all the teachers grinding it out every day: thank you. I see you and appreciate all the things you do for our schools, our students and their families today and everyday. Unless today isn’t Teacher Appreciation Day. If that’s the case, then forget it.


Still Learning...

When I left school today, I was pretty disheartened. Even though I'd collected amazing poetry collections from most of my students, too many in my sixth period class turned in whispers of what they could have done.

These students are still teaching me...
Then, after an emergency faculty meeting after school, and a visit from a brilliant former student, I got in the car and checked in with my partner. We confirmed daycare pickup and evening plans, and when he asked me how I was doing, I took a deep breath. I tried to tell him I was OK, but I wasn't. I was tired and doubting my effectiveness as a teacher. He reminded me that it was that time in the school year. It comes in flashes all year long, moments when I wonder if this is the career for me, if it's worth all of the hard work, if I should look to some other profession. And during testing, it's often the worst. I told my partner he was right, and he assured me that, by the end of the year, I would be sad to see all of my students go.

I made my way to a nearby high school where it was senior day for some former students. There I was greeted by a group of seniors I'd taught and who were getting ready to finish off their high school careers. I visited with their parents and with them, and by the time I had to leave, I was so buoyed by our conversation, I had forgotten all about how I'd felt earlier in the day.

I'm a teacher, and I love what I do. It is exhausting and frustrating, but it is also endlessly rewarding. I learn so much from my students and my former students keep teaching me as well. Today, they reminded me that what I do matters. That years down the line, it still matters, and I love them for it. They are the reason I teach and today they helped remind me of that.