It seems like whenever we read about teachers, it's because they're doing something like having sex with their students or binding them with duct tape. If you got your impression of teachers only from the news, you would never send your kids to school. Occasionally, we hear some good, but usually only when it's something extraordinary -- like the teachers who died with and protected their students inside Sandy Hook elementary.
Like most of us who went through 12 years of primary school, I never saw any of these types of things. I saw good and I saw not-so-good -- but I never saw jaw-droppingly extraordinary or Earth-shatteringly horrific. Most teachers are just regular people who happen to want to teach your kids -- and who happen to be forming who they will become as adults. They deserve our respect, and yet they get so little of it that they're quitting the profession in droves.
Here are eight things I'd like to thank my teachers for.
Letting my imagination run wild. A huge shout out to my kindergarten teacher, who always let me ramble on during show-and-tell about my adventures with my walking and talking pets. My imaginary adventures, I should say. One time after a long story involving my dog doing the dishes, she asked, "Does he break any of them?" Never did she tell me to stop lying nor imply to anyone that I had a problem of some kind. She let my imagination have free rein -- and that has served me well.
Comforting me. Thanks to the teacher who followed me after I royally screwed up a school play audition. I was so embarrassed, I ran off stage and sat sobbing in a dusty hallway. She came to find me, put her arms around me, and kept me company until I calmed down.
Realizing I was a little different. Thank you to the first grade teacher who put me at the end of a row of desks and gave me different reading material than everyone else. She gave me adult magazines. No, not THAT kind. She gave me Reader's Digest and news magazines. Because she knew that my reading comprehension level was higher than the other kids -- but she didn't want to draw attention to it or make a big deal out of it, which might have got me picked on.
Disciplining me. Thanks to the teachers over the years who called me out on my "attitude." One teacher yelled loudly at me and tossed me out of the room when I spoke back to him. Another explained to me firmly that my whining for preferential treatment just because I was smart wasn't going to fly -- that I needed to do the work too. I fear teachers have no leeway to discipline these days, and that is what forms your character.
Being my friend. Thanks to my high school drama teacher, who told me that I was talented and special when no one else was telling me that. You also asked about my life, my plans, my hopes, and encouraged me to go far.
Watching out for me. Thanks to the teacher who noticed that, when I was transferred to a new school, I was the "odd one out" who lagged behind my entire class and had no friends. You took the time to find me a new class, with more sympathetic kids, where I then made friends.
Not being Simon Cowell. Thanks to the choir teacher who allowed me to sing even though I was horrible -- and never told me not to audition even though my soprano sounded was like Minnie Mouse caught in a Cuisinart. I eventually figured out I couldn't sing, but would have been crushed if an adult had told me that.
Not censoring me. Thanks to the teacher who let me take all day on Friday to write, cast, direct, and perform in a short play for the entire school. Never once was I asked to change anything I wrote -- not even the scene with the characters discussing their peeing habits. The plays got me a full scholarship to an arts school.
Getting me started on my path. Thanks to the high school teacher who pulled me aside and told me I should be a professional writer. It took me awhile to listen to you, but I eventually did.
What do you thank your teachers for?
Image via Abdulrahman.Stock/Flickr