Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

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.

Related Stories

The Write Stuff

Rochel Burstyn

What on earth is graphology?! Good question. Graphology is the process of analyzing handwriting — no...

Curious Jr.: Meet a Private Investigator

Danielle Sarah Storch

Detectives and private investigators aren’t just fictional characters. Private investigator David J....

Starting Over

Izzy Gold

Shloima’s heart fell as he heard this news. He and Nossi had been best friends forever and had alway...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Using Our Free Will Effectively
Yonoson Rosenblum The image we carry of ourselves is key
Eytan Kobre The ripple effects of one Jew’s kiddush Sheim Shamayim
Living the High Life
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger It is exhilarating to matter, to be truly alive
It’s Time for Us to Speak Up
Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie We must speak out proudly for the values of Yiddishkeit
Kiruv Is Not Dead
Rabbi Meir Goldberg Do these sound like uninspired or closed students?
Frosting on the Cake
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman “Let’s not let a missing chocolate cake ruin our siyum!”
A Warm Corner in Flatbush
Yosef Zoimen It was a simple shul with a choshuve leader
Out of Control
Jacob L. Freedman “That’s illegal, Dr. Fine. I can’t have a part in this”
Song of Reckoning in the Skulener Court
Riki Goldstein “It’s awe-inspiring to watch the Rebbe sing this song”
“U’teshuvah, U’tefillah, U’tzedakah”
Riki Goldstein Throughout the Yamim Noraim, three words accompany us
The Rebbe Held His Gaze
Riki Goldstein A moment etched in Reb Dovid Werdyger’s memory forever
The Road Taken
Faigy Peritzman In the end it’s clear who really merits true happiness
Sincere Apology
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A heartfelt and complete apology can turn things around
Power Pack of Mercy
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz The 13 Attributes of Mercy are “an infinite treasure”
The Appraiser: Part II
D. Himy M.S. CCC-SLP, and Zivia Reischer “Eli needs to see people who struggled to achieve”