Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Have Those Teachers Really Been Doing All Year?

My son finished preschool last week.  Looking back, I cannot believe how amazingly fast these 9 months have gone.  But when I start to think about how much my son has learned and changed and truly grown up, sometimes I can't believe it was only 9 months ago his preschool adventure began.

Whether your child is graduating from preschool or from high school, this time of year most definitely calls for celebration, for reflection, for rejoicing.  

As the school year winds to a close, it is a time to celebrate your child and all they've accomplished and worked for this year.  It is a time to reflect on how far they've come, and also to look ahead to the next step that lies before them.  It is a time to rejoice that you will not have to remind them to finish their homework or remember their gym shoes or their lunch money for three more blessed months.

In the midst of all this celebration, sometimes as parents it is easy for us to forget that it's also a time to show our gratitude to the people who have worked with our children day in and day out for the past 9 months.  

Yes, your child's teacher has been busy, well, teaching, but they've also been up to a lot more than that.  Just in case you're wondering...

What Have Those Teachers Really Been Doing All Year?
Back in August, they spent some very hot, sweaty days putting up bulletin boards, sticking labels on notebooks, organizing files and cupboards and bookshelves, and rearranging desks and furniture in 18 different ways until they got it just right.  And then moving it all around just one more time to allow for a little more space in the reading corner or a better traffic flow between student desks.

They worked tirelessly to create a community in your child's classroom.  They purposefully and intentionally engaged students in lessons and activities and discussions to make sure every single child in that classroom felt safe and cared for.  When someone was wronged or treated disrespectfully, they did some serious detective work get to the bottom of it and try to make things right again.  Most likely, that time was spent during their own lunch break or recess or planning time.  But they did it.  They did it because they knew it was important to that child, to the safety of that community, to the self-worth of everyone involved.

They planned lessons, planned field trips, planned hands-on activities.  They wrote reports, wrote lesson plans, wrote recommendation letters.  They completed paperwork, report cards, and then some more paperwork.  They conducted parent/teacher conferences, conducted experiments and conducted bands and choirs.  
At night and on the weekends, they worried about your child's well-being.  Sometimes it was for the whole class or for a group of kids, but a lot of times, it was for an individual child.  And you can believe each and every child was thought of and worried about on some weekend or some night.  What can I do differently to help him get that concept?  How can I help her to work things out with her friends?  How can I make sure he feels included at recess?  What can I do to make this lesson new and exciting and interesting?  What haven't I thought of yet?  Where can I get the resource she needs?  How can I support him through this tough time?

While working a full-time job, teachers were also taking college classes to make sure they were up-to-date on the most effective ways to teach your children.  They were writing papers and submitting projects, on top of grading papers and critiquing projects themselves.

They spent money out of their own pockets to make sure their students had what they needed, and had some little "extras" here and there, too.  From crayons to snacks to bean bag chairs to ice cream sandwiches, they also invested financially in your children.

They have been focused on your child's needs as a learner.  Not just the class as a whole, but your child.  They have been monitoring your child's progress to make sure they "get it," and then trying this and that and this other thing to help them if they don't "get it" quite yet.  They have stood by your child's side and encouraged them time and time again when something just isn't making sense.  They have helped them to try again and again, and they've helped your child to learn to persevere even when something is hard.  They have celebrated when your child proudly exclaims "I GET IT!" They cannot explain how proud they are of the hard work your child has put forth.  They have extended a challenge and pushed your child to go just a little bit further then they thought they could go.

They have helped your child learn their ABCs, how to draw a self-portrait, their multiplication facts, how to play the recorder, the scientific method, how to type, the capitals of the 50 states, and how to play floor hockey.  They have helped them prepare for the ACT, study for their AP exams, and write and re-write their college applications and scholarship essays.

Unfortunately, there have been some extremely sad situations that have occurred in school settings this year.  There are teachers who gave their all, who in some cases, even gave their lives, in an effort to protect their students.  These teachers are amazing, extraordinary people.  Please remember that the people teaching your children are just as amazing and just as extraordinary, and they would react in just the same way if their students were in any type of danger.  It is part of who they are and what they do.  They love, care for, and protect their students, no matter the circumstances.  They would come to their defense and their aid without a second thought.  

Teachers have spent the last 9 months loving on their students.  Absolutely loving them.  They have written notes, dried tears, and tied shoes.  They have listened, supported and encouraged.  They have attended your child's plays and concerts and games and matches.  They have talked with them about what's going on in their lives, about what their interests, hopes and dreams are, about who they are as people in this world, not just students in their classrooms.  

Are they excited for summer to arrive?  Absolutely.  But as summer approaches, they are also looking back on the school year spent with their students and thinking about how much they have grown and changed and learned.  They are reflecting on the leaps and bounds they have come together as a community, and the strides that have been made not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.  They are thinking about the smiles and laughs and hugs they will miss during those summer months.   

So yes, school's (almost) out for summer.  These teachers will take some time to refresh, relax, rejuvenate.  (Some of them will even spend the next few months teaching summer school, working on graduate classes, coaching summer sports teams or working or volunteering at summer camps.)  But before you know it, they will be back at it again.  Doing the job outlined in their contract, but also doing so much more than that.  They will be giving of themselves to their students -- their kids -- day in and day out.  

To teachers, principals, secretaries, counselors, social workers, paraprofessionals, speech pathologists, reading specialists, physical therapists, media specialists, occupational therapists, bus drivers, food service workers, school psychologists, playground supervisors:  THANK YOU.  Thank you for caring for our kids as if they were your own.  Thank you for giving of yourself tirelessly.  As parents, we appreciate you all more than you will ever know.  From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU.

You Are a Good Mom, there is no question about that.  Before your child is out of school for the summer, though, don't forget to thank a teacher, and let them know They Are a Good Teacher, too.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!


  1. Thank you, from all of us exhausted-yet-totally-happy-and-full-of-love teachers.

    1. Love, love, love your description of teachers. What a great way to sum up the end of year feeling! :) Thanks so much for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it!


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