This time last year I was unwrapping sweet little gifts from my second graders and collecting sweaty fistfuls of flowers in a water bottle vase. It was Teacher Appreciation Day, and the most meaningful gifts I received were just the ones that let me know that the work I was doing mattered to somebody. I believe feeling appreciated is really all about feeling seen. This year, I am removed from the classroom and working on a book about teaching, but I have something to say to teachers everywhere today.
I see you. I see that you are exhausted, because every single person you come in contact with throughout the day needs something from you. I see you limping toward the finish line of the school year on caffeine and a prayer. I see you buying those crayons, glue sticks, books, and even paper with your own money. I see that every August you swear you're not going to spend so much, but each year you can't resist redecorating your classroom to make it home for your students. I see that when the bell rings at 2:35, or 3:05 or 3:50, your day is not even close to done. I see you keeping 25, 30, even 40 kids alive and well and learning something every day. I see that those kids are nothing compared to the adults you deal with every day. I see you documenting, modifying, and analyzing, while motivating, comforting, and counseling.
I see all of these things, and this is what I want you to know: Know that you have made a difference, even when you feel like all you've made it through is another day. Know that for some of your students, you are all they have. Know that sometimes kids don't get what's best for them for reasons out of your control, and that your best within the situation is good enough. Know that you will never convince everyone of how hard you work, and you don't need to. Know that a sense of humor and a nap are invaluable. Know that your health, sanity, and family matter most. Protect them. Know that for every upset parent, manipulative politician, or hindering administrator who makes you the problem, there is a grateful community member like me who sees you and appreciates you.