By Susan Jerrell, TOFT Founder
Cards, notes, pictures, drawings. No matter what grade you teach, you will receive heart-felt tokens of appreciation from students. These momentos provide the teaching inspiration you need to remind you why you became a teacher. They are proof that you impact the lives of your students.
As a mentor teacher encouraged me, I now encourage you to keep all of them. It may sound sappy or like a waste of space, but trust me, there will come a day when the newness has worn off and the drudgery of the day-to-day tasks become overwhelming.
It happens to every single one of us. One day you will wonder why in the world you ever became a teacher. Another the day the sheer act of crawling out of bed and facing a room full of students will feel like more than you can handle. A time will come when you feel discouraged and like you are not reaching the students you have been pouring yourself into.
Treasured notes uplift spirits
When those days come, pull out your box of treasured notes and read some of them. Remember the students who took the time to give back to you for what you gave to them.
You will never reach every single one of your students, but you will reach many. Remember that you make a difference.
These special notes provided the teacher inspiration I needed to regroup and begin another day with a smile on my face. They mean more to me than anything else in all the years I taught because they came from the hearts of the students I loved.
When a bad day gets you down, you cannot help but smile with comments like:
- “I walked into the door of this class a shy, uncertain sophomore, but thanks to you, I will walk across the stage at graduation and out these doors with the confidence to be myself.”
- “You inspire me to be greater than I am and to achieve my dreams more than any other teacher ever has. It just amazes me how much you care.”
- “I hope that your current students see the value in everything you are teaching them because I did, and it has been the most worthwhile experience I gained in high school.”
- “You helped me smile on my bad days; seeing you holding the door open, saying hi to me always made me feel better.”
- “So this holiday season when I am counting my blessings, I will be counting you twice. You’ve helped me light a fire within myself and for that I am blessed.”
I share these not because I was an extraordinary teacher who did anything out of the ordinary, but because I was just like you. I was a teacher doing the best I could and pouring my heart into my students every day. These cards and notes help me remember that doing the ordinary and doing it with love and care can change the lives of students.
That is why I became a teacher, and sometimes I need to be reminded of that.