Sometimes we forget the impact that we have as teachers. Schools are busy places, and teachers are busy people, so it’s not surprising that sometimes we miss out on chances to stop and reflect upon the influence that we wield over the young people in our care. Often, it’s the little conversations, the easily-forgotten asides, the friendly smile or brief compliment that mean the most to young people – and while we might forget them by the time it comes to write the next report or plan the next lesson, those words can remain with a young person for a very long time, shaping their personality and their thoughts.
May is Teacher Appreciation Month. So, thank you to all the teachers out there. To show you how powerful you are, as individuals and as a profession, here are a collection of ‘Thank You’ letters written by students thanking the teacher who, in his or her inimitable way, changed their lives for the better.
I hated you when I first met you. I hated the fact that you made me stand up straight. I hated the way you made me wear my uniform right. I hated the way you made me speak correctly. Most of all, I hated the way that you wouldn’t accept my work unless it was the best I could do. And the best always seemed more effort than I was willing to put in.
We had lots of arguments, at the start. I remember being kept in at lunch a lot. And despite my yelling and threats – even tears once or twice – I remember you never lost your temper. You were always patient with me. You always took the time to listen to me, whenever I wanted to be heard.
I look back upon that time as so important in the development of the person that I am today. You taught me discipline. You taught me dignity. Much more than English, which was what you were supposedly teaching me, you taught me that I could achieve more than what I or other people thought that I was capable of. I could be a success, instead of a clown.
For that lesson, I owe you so much.
A student (Year 11).
To my teacher:
If I had not had you as my teacher in Year 7, my life would be incredibly different. I’m not saying it would be bad – but you opened my eyes to what I could be, what I could do, in a way that I’ve never thought possible. You took a kid from Penrith and made him want to see the world and beyond.
I still remember one lesson where you told us about your hopes for your future when you were our age. I think you were meant to be talking about science, but it changed, and kind of became a life study. You told us about your regrets, and your successes, and for some reason, it all resonated with me, and I started to realize that anything really is possible.
You have changed my whole aspect on my learning, I wouldn't be where I am today without you. Your encouragement and persistence in my junior years has taught me that I am who I am, and to get to the top, it’s all down to me. I am capable, but it will take hard work and lots of dedication.
An Inspirer. An Empower. An Engager. These three characteristics are just a short sample of the many you demonstrate with all of your students, including me, every single day.
Too often we progress through the ‘ropes of life,’ and do not invest the time to express our gratitude and authentic value for the support you so eagerly share for our growth, as not only students, but also as global citizens of society.
You make me feel authentically supported when you say, “Please let me know how I can be helpful” and genuinely mean it. Also, the excitement you express to co-learn with me rather than teach me, makes me feel like a partner in my learning experience, when it is so easy to feel like ‘a sponge that can only absorb.’ I know you have so much to share, but I love how you also openly articulate how much I have to share as well and how much you learn by engaging with me!
As an educator, your title can ensure a role of heightening my knowledge in academics. However, you see me not as one of the many students you have, but instead you value me for my uniqueness and strengths. You promote an environment where I feel like I am able to not only share my contribution, but also know it is actually considered and appreciated.
Thank you for being genuine. Thank you for seeing me as a partner in learning and sharing. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being one of the few great teachers out there. May you inspire others to achieve the greatness you have.
Clement Coulston (Graduated)
Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your time. Thank you for helping me with my homework. Thank you for setting me homework. Thank you for staying behind to help me, even when I know there are lots of other places you’d rather be. Thank you for keeping me company on camp when no one else was there. Thank you for not embarrassing me in front of my friends. Thank you for explaining things until I understand. Thank you for making me do my best. Thank you for being my teacher.
Sarah (Year 8).