Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thank You's Go a Long Way...

"Tonya...I just wanted to say THANK YOU and I really appreciate your help..."

--A former student

I didn't realize how much those two words really mean. As a former teacher (and in some regard...although I am no longer in the classroom, I will always be an educator at heart), "pleases and thank you's" didn't come often. I'd pour my heart and soul into my lesson plans, only to have students laugh, struggle through the assignments or wonder "what the lesson exactly had to do with their life." I understood where they were coming from because my students didn't know this at the time, but when I first started teaching I was only 4-6 years older than most of them. Despite the lack of interest, respect or resources, I showed up each day with the same goal: to reach at least one student, but encourage them all to dream. The three years that I taught high school, I really thought that all of my hard work was in vein. Late nights grading papers when all of my other twentysomething counterparts were out partying the night away; placing all of my wants and worries to the side in order to help someone else; feeling guilty that I couldn't solve each and every one of my students' problems...most of all, no murmurs of "please" and "thank you" within reasonable reach.

I guess what they say is true: you never really see the rewards of your hard work until after you complete it. Years after teaching, I am fully gratified that I was in those particular places at those particular times--because I didn't know it then, but I was actually there to help other people. I don't have many adult friends and I try to keep a small circle of people around me--but I never thought that I would have hundreds of former students calling me, asking for advice, telling me that my help has made a difference in their life and saying, "Thank you."

Thank you really goes a long way--not long enough to get me back into the classroom, but far enough to make me realize one (and I say one because there are many) of my callings in life: to give people a reason to say, "Thank you."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see a teacher and a student have a relationship that extends beyond the classroom in a positive way.