Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I actually come from a family of teachers (8 other family members have taught at some point in their lives). Going into the teaching profession was an easy decision for me, even though I knew it wasn’t an easy profession.
When I was in college, one of my education professors told us, “Kids don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.” This has always stuck with me, and the longer I teach the more I realize how true it is.
I’ve learned that many times, what my students need the most is not found in any textbook. It’s not found on my pacing guide, and it’s definitely not found on a standardized test.
That’s because what my students need the most is to know that they are loved unconditionally…that someone cares about them and believes in them.
When this happens, they realize that their worth is not linked to their performance, and they feel safe to take risks and make mistakes. I always tell my students, “It’s ok to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.” Then, progress starts to happen, their confidence begins to grow, and they start believing in themselves. Once students realize that they are capable of meeting expectations, they will often exceed expectations.
For me, seeing my students make progress reminds me why I teach. It reminds me why the long days and stacks of papers to grade are worth it.
Over the years, I have received many gifts from my students and their families. If you’re looking to give your child’s teacher a gift, I highly recommend a handwritten “thank-you” note/card. These simple notes of appreciation are so meaningful. I have saved these notes over the years and have often pulled them out to re-read them, especially on those challenging days when I need some encouragement.
While I love thank-you notes, my most memorable gift came from a student four years ago. It was during Teacher Appreciation Week. I had received a few gift cards throughout the week (teachers also love these), but this student came in one morning with a huge smile on her face and gave me this gift:
I can honestly say I had never received a gift like this before: a small blown up bunny, an apple, a pen (that didn’t work) with a hair tie wrapped around it, a broken rubber band, a plastic bracelet, a seashell, and 3 smarties.
Yes, this was my most memorable gift, because at the same time it broke my heart, yet it encouraged me. Why? This student didn’t have much, but she gave what she had, and she gave with excitement! She knew that I cared about her, and in return, she wanted to find a way to show that she cared about me.
This random gift reminded me that the most important part of teaching is not found in any lesson plan, but it’s helping our students understand that they are loved. Our lessons become meaningful when students realize their lives have meaning. And that is why teaching can be so challenging, yet also so rewarding.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.