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An Open Letter To My Kids' Teachers, Now That The School Year Is Over

by Dina Leygerman

Dear Teachers Who Teach My Kids,

How can I ever properly express my gratitude for all you do every single day? How can I possibly thank you enough? I know there isn't much I can actually do to show you just how thankful I am. I do want you to know, however, that I appreciate you. I hope this open letter to you, my kids' teachers, will show you I appreciate you because I understand you. Oh, how I understand you.

As a teacher myself, I spent this afternoon cleaning, rearranging, and wistfully reflecting upon this past school year. I purged my closets, tossed old group projects, and wiped my counters. I said goodbye to my students, hugged those I may not see again, and shed a tear or, you know, 20. Today was my last day of teaching for the year, and my summer break has officially begun. Then again, I still have a large stack of finals to get through and grades to finalize. But I no longer have to set my alarm clock to 5:00 a.m., and for that I am thankful. I no longer have to crawl out of bed, barely awake, and argue with myself over whether I really need to work. I no longer have to commute for an hour, sit in a hateful amount of traffic, and put on a smile when I walk into the building even though all I want is to crawl back under my down comforter, shove my pillow under my drained head, and sleep for another 10 years. I don't have to force myself to get in my zone and power through yet another day filled with unexpected challenges and quaint surprises.

Dina Leygerman

In other words, I understand you, teachers. And I thank you.

Thank you for teaching my children the concepts I'm unable to teach. Not necessarily because I don't know the content, but because I don't have the time nor the energy nor the patience to teach them, to practice with them, or to assess them.

Thank you for caring for my children, for taking the time to make sure they are OK when they look unusually sad. For talking them through the rough patches when I am not around and when I am not able to. Thank you for getting them to open up and talk about their feelings and discuss hard topics they aren't always thrilled to discuss.

Thank you for keeping them present and active. For reminding them to pay attention, redirecting them, reassessing them. Thank you for making sure they are listening, comprehending, learning.

Thank you for not playing favorites even though I know you have favorites.

Thank you for respecting my children. For respecting their privacy, their feelings, their space, and their person.

Thank you for fostering my children's creativity, desire to learn, their grit, and involvement within the school and, to a greater degree, their community.

Thank you for encouraging them to thrive, grow, and develop. For believing in their abilities and in their capacity to do and be better.

Thank you for finding it in your heart to forgive them when they make mistakes, for your patience when they misbehave, and for your appropriate rewards and punishments.

Thank you for differentiating their learning and for treating them as individuals. Thank you for finding new and innovative ways to engage them authentically, and on a level only they will understand.

Thank you for not playing favorites even though I know you have favorites.

Thank you for keeping them safe, whether it be in the classroom, in the cafeteria, and on the playground. Thank you for showing them how to stay safe, for teaching them procedures and for keeping them calm in times of emergency.

Thank you for mastering developmental psychology, for navigating their minds, confronting their weaknesses, and building upon their strengths.

Thank you for cultivating their leadership skills. For being a mentor, a counselor, a parent, a friend, and an adult, and for switching in and out of each role oh so effortlessly.

Thank you for always keeping me informed, and for your emails, phone calls, and reminders. Thank you for knowing what I'd want to know and what information to omit. Thank you for listening to me, to my concerns, to my questions.

Finally, thank you for being with my children when I am not. While I am busy educating other people's children, you are doing the same for mine. I can't thank you enough.

I know you must put your own lives on the back burner in order to be fully present for the lives of your students.

I get your struggle. I know there's never enough time in the day, and never enough strength in the soul. I know you have approximately 100 different responsibilities to tend to every single day, and those responsibilities change daily. I know you must keep going when you feel like you simply cannot go on. I know you must put your own lives on the back burner in order to be fully present for the lives of your students. I know you put everything else on hold because you believe in the purpose your job brings. I know you are painfully aware of your faults, that you're always critiquing your own process and always honing your approach. I know you think you can do better next time, and you always try something new. You've probably failed many times, but that has never, and will never, stop you. I know you have probably cried in your classroom, on your way home, and over dinner. I know your lows are extremely low and your highs are super high. I know you show up every single day and I know you’re intrinsically motivated to be great, even on your off days.

I understand it all. I understand you are stretched too thin for a pitiful salary. I know parents expect you to perform miracles and to literally take a bullet for their kids. I understand how difficult your everyday is. I understand you believe in your mission. I know you genuinely want every one of your students to become contributing members of society that are also happy, healthy, and thriving. Who are capable of great things and use those capabilities for good.

Thank you for believing in my children, for providing them with an environment in which they can succeed, for gifting them the invaluable gift of new knowledge, and for teaching them to become lifetime learners.

I understand you. And I thank you.