A letter to my children's teachers – on the last day of school
This week marked the end of yet another school year.
At midday this Thursday, the bells rang at my children's primary school for the last time this academic year, and as I stood in a sea of other mums (and a few dads) and waited to collect my two young children and their armfuls of artwork, clay figures and full-to-the-brim folders and school bags, I couldn't help but feel a little teary.
Mostly because it felt like mere moments since it September 1st of last year, and the start of term, and yet, in the blink of an eye, here we are, with junior infants and 3rd class behind us, and I find myself wishing I could press pause for a while. Savour this era of my life a little longer. But my end-of-term tears this year were also because I am so deeply, truly grateful for the school year they both have had, we all have had. For little friendships made. For all the laughs and fun. For lessons learned. For memories made. And for teachers who have really, truly seen and cared for and poured their hearts into teaching my children. And for that I am so deeply, deeply grateful.
Sending your children into school, whether for the very first time or just for the start of a new year and new class, as a parent, you worry a little. Will they be happy? Will they make friends? Will they struggle? Or be challenged enough? Will they be be able to keep up with the pace? Will they be overwhelmed or left behind? Will they require too much attention or not enough? Will someone notice if they are having hard time? If they fall and grace their knee, who will comfort them?
I have this theory that to be a teacher – or to work with children in general, you either have that special something – that magic – or you don't. And whatever that magic is, the one that makes you so great at what you do and that have children be drawn like little magnets to you – it can't be taught. No degree is going to be able to give someone this skill – it's a gift, and a calling.
And so this letter today is dedicated to two very special teachers, who very much has brought their magic to our lives this past year.
"Than you for being my children's teachers this past year.
Thank you for helping them grow and bloom under your care – the fact that they both cried because they had to say goodbye to you this week is surely a testiment to just how much they have grown to love you and the impact you have had on their lives. On our lives.
Thank you for making learning fun. For coming up with projects that inspired and turned text and subjects into something real and relevant and sparked a classroom full of ideas and creative outcomes.
Thank you for being fair. For having to ability to be strict and firm when needed, but also be kind and approachable and gentle.
Thank you for giving them you attention – for really, really seeing them. On good days and bad days. I know feeling like they were seen, that you noticed them and how they were feeling was so important to them. And to me.
Thank you teaching them that you can command respect – and manage a class – without raising your voice or creating fear.
Thank you for your encouragement and compassion.
Thank you for seeing the best things about them – and for helping them see how great they are. Thank you for telling them, over and over again, how special they are (not just my children, but every child in the class).
Thank you for being the kind of teacher who notice who needs a little extra attention on any given day. Thank you for seeing that sometimes acting out is, in fact, someone asking to be seen.
Thank you for allowing them to get to know you, for sharing little stories about your life and your childhood, for letting them have this piece of you. Thank you for not being afraid to laugh at yourself, to take life less seriously, and to be open and honest with a class full of kids. You taught them that teachers are real people too – people that care about them.
Thank you for featuring in their stories from this year. So much so that in many ways, you became part of our family. Your name was part of so many 'said this' and 'did this' that we all felt like we knew you.
Thank you for understanding that sometimes life outside of school can have its ups and down, and that some days children just need a little extra care.
Thank you for being the type of teacher that really seems to like all the children in that classroom – and care about how they all do in your care.
Thank you for teaching the importance of diligence and working hard, but also managed to make it so fun.
Thank you for being exactly the teacher you are.
So as you pack up your classroom this week, and walk out the door for the summer, please know this: You have made an impact on their lives. You are a person my child will remember for the rest of their life. And for that I am so deeply grateful.
So thank you. From the bottom of my heart, and theirs – thank you.