Wind in My Sails

Tomorrow marks the end of the most difficult year I’ve had in 26 years as an educator. I will shed tears tomorrow, not of sorrow at saying goodbye to another group of kids, but those that come from being emotionally spent and utterly exhausted.

My hands have been full this year with several students who required a myriad of interventions, systems, schedules, and documentation. I used every management tool in my toolbelt and acquired new ones along the way. I feel like most of my tools have been put through a grinder and spit back out. A few of my students with high needs made progress, but still have a long road ahead of them while others are still on square one. Many days I wondered, “Do these kids even care that I’ve worked so hard to help them? Do their parents even give a rip? Am I making any difference at all?”

After school today, the parents of one of my students approached me. His father held out his hand and said, “In case I don’t see you tomorrow, I want to thank you,” at this point he had to swallow back tears before he continued. “For all you’ve done to help our son. We appreciate all the hard work you put in. It means a lot to us.” As I wiped tears from my own eyes, his wife hugged me and said, “We know that it’s tough with our son, but you are the only teacher who has actually cared about him.” Then their son gave me a hug and as I hugged him back, I told him that I love him and am proud of his progress this year. I encouraged him to keep working at things and make more progress next year.

These parents could have given me any myriad of gifts: a candle, coffee mug, Starbucks card, or any other “teacher-gift,” but their words put new wind in my sails. I told them that that they have no idea how much their words mean to me and reassured them that I love their son and consider it an honor to have been his teacher. Their gift of a genuine, heart-felt thank you was the best gift they could have given me.

Is there someone in your life who could benefit from your heart-felt words of gratitude? Don’t delay my friend. Fill their sails with fresh wind. It may be just the push they need to make it through one more day.

One thought on “Wind in My Sails

  1. Oh, Lisha. You truly are deserving of those heart felt words from parents! I experienced the same from you, as a mom of challenging kiddos. This is such a good reminder, to express gratitude. Ironically, I have gifts and heartfelt thank you notes to give to our boys’ teachers today. Teaching is a tough job, and becomes tougher each year as more and more students are coming along with academic and behavioral challenges. Then, too often, teachers are expected to be miracle workers. My husband is head automotive instructor at the college, so we now have more insight into the myriad of the things teachers do even outside the classroom. Meetings, grading papers, advisory councils, various committees…. I imagine it’s even more involved at the elementary level, with conferences, meetings with parents/students, IEP’s, etc. But through it all, we have to remember one thing. Even if the students never thank you, and even if parents never thank you, God sees and knows your heart and how hard you have worked. He is there to hold up your weary hands. And you never know the impact your efforts may be making on your students. I also want to say that, as a parent of “difficult” students, sometimes we are so busy trying to keep all the balls in the air and our head above water at home that we fail to take the time to show appreciation. Sometimes we lack the perspective of a teacher who has dozens of students. Some parents don’t understand how difficult their child is compared to “normal” kids because they don’t have side-by-side comparisons on a daily basis. I’m not saying this excuses those who never thank the teachers, but maybe it explains some of what they are going through. Keep showing love. Our Lord sees and knows!!

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