Saying good-bye to a class of kids at the end of the school year can be an emotional moment. No matter what grade you teach, you know that these students, who you have spent 7 hours a day with for 37 weeks over nine and a half months (never thought about it, but it’s kind of like a pregnancy), will be somebody else’s in the fall.
I know. I used to be a teacher.
And if you teach little ones, as I did, they will come to you in September with unbridled enthusiasm and a shortage of listening skills.
They will bring presents of leaves and dandelions and bird feathers and drop them on your desk. They will tell stories from home at Show and Tell that you are just sure their parents would be humiliated if they knew. They will have fights on the playground and then make up with each other in mere seconds because first graders do not hold grudges.
And they will leave you in tears on the last day, but with the gift of knowing that you taught them how to read.
Some high schoolers also experience incredible growth from the first to the last day of a school year.
Can a movie capture the teaching experience?
One of my favorite teaching movies, To Sir, with Love, is a perfect example. Sidney Poitier plays an out-of-work engineer who in desperation takes a teaching job in London’s tough East End. This film follows a teacher and his class from the first day of the school year to the moving end, where Poitier’s character makes a surprising decision about his own future.
Some would say that To Sir, with Love is overly sentimental (it is 1967, after all), but for me, it got to the very heart of why people go into teaching in the first place. Here is the trailer:
And speaking of why talented people sacrifice their lives and careers to work with kids for ridiculously low salaries, the guy in this clip below explains it pretty well. He is not your usual meek “schoolteacher,” but he made me smile:
Does this post have a point?
Yes, it does. It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week. As a way to honor teachers for the important work they do, I started a thread on Facebook inviting people to post their memories: who their favorite teacher was and why.
This week, if you have school-aged kids of your own, I ask you to send their teachers a personalized note of appreciation. Get them a card or flowers. Or, better, yet, a gift card from a nice restaurant.
And if you home school your kids, I’m talking to you, too. You won’t get cards from parents (because, well, you are the parent), but just know that you are making amazing contributions to society that will reverberate for generations to come. Because you are working with our planet’s most precious resource: our children.
What about you?
Did you have a favorite teacher, one you still remember?
What made him or her special?