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Letter from a Teacher

Chayki Berger

In certain classrooms, when I finish a lesson I get a chorus of “thank you.” This fills me with pride, warmth, and then some wonder

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

Dear Student, 

Thank you for always saying thank you. (As a teacher, I also sort of hope you give your mother as many thank-yous as you give me.) Some of you are even kind enough to write thank you on every single quiz or test. This puzzles me greatly, since I didn’t do this way back then when I was a student. Are you mature enough to realize the positive aspects of a daily quiz? Are you thanking me for making you work hard? 

Either way, I appreciate it greatly. But it makes me wonder if I ever thank my kids for making me work hard. Like if I work hard and prepare a beautiful birthday supper, I should really thank my kids for taking part in it. Though that would require much depth and wisdom, if I did it, my children would surely appreciate it greatly. Wow. Believe me when I tell you that I learn more from teaching a class than from taking one.

Photo: Shutterstock

In certain classrooms, when I finish a lesson I get a chorus of “Thank you.” This fills me with pride, warmth, and then some wonder. I peek at the student who was coloring with her gel pens all through class, and sure enough, she’s also thanking me. I want to ask her why she is thanking me. Maybe for finally leaving the classroom? Maybe because everyone is? But if she’s so keen on following the majority, she should really have been involved in my lesson. I definitely have the attention of majority of the class, the majority of the time. I want to ask the girl who was schmoozing in the corner why her “thank you” is the loudest of all. Did she hear anything I said today? Maybe she thinks that one of the definitions of “Thank you” is “Have a good day.” But I don’t think I’ll single either of these girls out with my inquiry, because it seems they do feel thankful — although they may not show it during class. And I wouldn’t want to keep them anyway, especially when all of the students are out the door already. So I let it go. 

Some of the nicest thank-you notes I get are at the end of the year. I used to treasure them, when I started my teaching career. I pictured one day, when I’d grow older or if I’d be lonely or sad, that I’d take out the notes and read them. Then my house got too small or my folder too large, or the years in school too many or the students’ words too repetitive. I’ m not sure. Or my confidence became too bloated or my relationships too shallow. I’m hoping not. Seriously, each and every note makes a difference and infuses me with a passion I then share with my students.

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