By Amber Teamann
As an educator, I love that my professional life revolves around a school calendar, brand new school supplies each year, and the daily promise of children’s hugs. How very gratifying it is to know that what we do has the power to change a child’s trajectory in life! Teachers are in a unique position to accomplish what so few other occupations can: immortality. They live on forever in the stories shared between generations, the unforgettable memories, and the differences they made in their students’ lives.
As we celebrate teachers with intentionality this week, I hope administrators, parents, and community members are able to take a moment to reflect on what happens behind the scenes. From the early mornings to the late nights, a teacher’s work is never just a job. There are so many cliché jokes that can be made about working from 8:00 to 3:00 or having summers off, but I don’t know of many bankers, lawyers, or accountants who spend their own money on their professional supplies or fight passionately to the point of tears over their “clients” the way my teachers do. Teachers expend energy to the point of exhaustion but never fail to turn on their smiles each and every day . . . all for the students they will teach for a mere 187 days of their academic careers.
I see students walk into classrooms, broken and dejected. I watch them blossom under a teacher’s care and see their entire futures being rewritten. Do you think that sounds extreme? Visit a classroom and watch how, when given attention and support, even the students who struggle most will become engaged and grow as learners. My teen, in such a precarious stage in her life, has had the opportunity to be coached by someone who took the time to get to know and support her not only athletically but also personally. He has held her accountable for her playing on the court and her decisions off the court. I’ve watched him devote his time and stay 45 minutes after a game waiting on parents to pick up their daughters, despite having a family of his own at home. These are the adults with which we entrust our future. How very thankful for them we should be!
On my campus alone, I have teachers whose homes were destroyed this week in a hail storm. Their cars were totaled. Their roofs were destroyed. And you know what? They are here. They are here, they are smiling, and they are hugging on our students and listening to their storm adventures—all while their personal world is in ruins. Find me another profession where you see this level of daily commitment. There are dozens of examples of how far above and beyond a “contract” teachers will go. The 4th grade teacher who stays up until midnight, working on papers and trying to advance her education with an administration certificate while simultaneously teaching full time and raising two active kids. The 3rd grade teacher who makes it a point to write a letter of encouragement to a former student with testing anxiety—a student she had four years ago—before our state standardized tests. A teacher who has invited every one of her students to have lunch with her each day for the last month (or more) until STAAR to ensure that they all know they mean more to her than a test score. A nurse who visits a student who had to be hospitalized, just so he knew he was loved and missed. I could go on and on. And I am just referring to one elementary campus. There are examples like this where ever you find teachers.
You never forget the teacher who made an impact on your life.
As we celebrate teachers across the nation, I hope that you take the opportunity to reach out and thank a teacher in your life. There are so many ways to show teachers or staff members that you appreciate their time and energy (thanks, Pinterest!), but even a simple thank you or a handwritten note can make an entire year’s worth of energy worth it. We are blessed to have those we call teachers . . . let’s make sure they know it!
Click here for some of ASCD’s most inspiring free resources for teachers.
Amber Teamann is a principal at Whitt Elementary School in the Wylie Independent School District in Wylie, Tex. She is a member of the ASCD Emerging Leaders Class of 2015. Connect with Teamann on Twitter @8Amber8