Last night was my youngest daughter’s back to school night at her middle school. First, I will say that it was way too long. It lasted 2.5 hours! It started with the typical PTA meeting (which was surprisingly short), and then went into the parents following our child’s schedule so we could meet all of their teachers. I get that it takes time to do that, and I am not sure how they could have made it go any faster. It was just really long, and I certainly didn’t expect to be gone that long as I had other things to do once I got home. Anyway, that’s not the point. What I really want to say, though, is that there really are some great teachers and administrators out there. As a teacher myself, I know that teachers often get a bad rap because of the one or two bad seeds out there. We hear it all the time and see it all over social media every day. Don’t get me wrong; there are some people that should not be teaching or making an impression on our kids. I have worked with some of them and my kids have had some of them. Unfortunately, those few bad seeds cause us all to be lumped together in a bunch as all terrible. The thing is, I have also worked with some of the best teachers on the planet, and they far outnumber the bad. These teachers spend day in and day out thinking about their students and how they can help them learn right where they are. They are planning differentiation activities to meet the needs of all the learners in their rooms. They have unconditional love for their students. They take on their students’ burdens as their own. They spend hundreds and thousands of dollars of their own money making their class better. They spend countless, unpaid hours developing the perfect lesson plans because they long for their students to succeed. I know this not only because I have seen it but because I was also one of them. I lived and breathed for my students, often to the detriment to my own family. This is why I decided to step away from the classroom for a while after 17 years. I needed a break. It wasn’t because I didn’t love what I was doing or because I didn’t love every single one of my students over the years. It was because it was killing me. I could not continue to devote all I had to my students and completely forget about taking care of my family and myself. This is the case for most teachers. We burn out because we give it all to our classes. We give and give until we can’t give anything else all while being belittled on social media and by parents of our students. The sad thing is that most teachers can’t afford to take a break from the classroom like I have and will continue to give beyond their capacity for the good of their students. I once read a quote by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk that said, “A good teacher is like a candle—It consumes itself to light the way for others.” I thought that was pretty profound and absolutely true.
I listened to teacher after teacher last night describe their passion for teaching and their students. I am confident that every single one of them will go above and beyond for my child with very little thanks or acknowledgement. I know they will put their own families on the back burner so that they can give their all to their class full of students. Good teachers exist. Exceptional teachers exist. They are out there fighting tooth and nail for your kids. Pray for them. Pray for your school. Pray for the students. Thank your child’s teachers and administrators. Spoil them whenever you can. Make them feel important. For goodness sakes, don’t bash them on social media. Don’t lump them all into the bad seed category. Try to be understanding and trust them. I promise you 90% of them have your child’s best interests at heart, and they know what they are doing. Let them do their job. Don’t question every little thing they do. Instead let them know that you support them and will back them up at home. That is all we want.
I shared this video on my Facebook feed 4 years ago. It still rings true today. I love the message these teachers are portraying. While there are bad seeds out there and there are many flaws with our schools, most teachers I know give everything they have to make a difference in our kids’ lives. I hate seeing comments on news stories about rare, terrible incidents lumping all teachers into a bad light. It simply isn’t true. Instead of adding your own negative comment, go out today and thank a teacher. Thank him or her for making a difference and devoting everything to your child’s success. Trust me, those two little words of “thank you” will mean the world to him or her.