By Chrissie Ferguson
To my fellow teachers—
Whether your final day of the school year was today or last Friday, or maybe it is quickly approaching in the upcoming weeks—I raise a glass to each of you. Cheers to another amazing year!
You did it. We did it!
And while not everyone knows exactly what we do as teachers each school year, I certainly know what you do.
I see you all. And I feel you, too. Because in the course of a school year, we all seem to morph into something more than human—we become something superhuman.
We are the roosters that wake up the roosters
when the world seems completely still.
We pour our first of many daily cups of coffee and wipe the dream crumbs from our eyes. Exhausted, but ready, we proudly and loudly share our vocal alarm clock with the world around us—our family, our neighbors, our colleagues, our students.
It’s time to start the day!
We are the octopus with fumbling arms
as we run out the door.
Graded papers in one arm.
A lunch box in another.
A pair of shoes.
Materials for the day’s lessons.
Our own child’s class project, or forgotten shoes, or the week’s spelling list that will need to be reviewed in the car.
And then, don’t forget—there’s that one final arm that guards the most important treasure—the sloshing coffee whose landing point determines the start of our day.
We are the street performer
who very carefully climbs the 12 foot pole while throwing one ball in the air as we set up the classroom for the day.
We add another ball in the air as we monitor students in the hallway.
And another as we answer important emails before the school day begins.
And…one…more ball as students need our help with the previous night’s homework.
And on some mornings, there is an extra ball thrown into the rotation when a meeting is added to the schedule.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
Keep it moving.
Don’t. Drop. A thing.
We’ve got this!
We are the actors and actresses
who are passionate about our craft.
The sound of the first bell rings, and we are hair and makeup ready.
Lights. Camera. Action.
We are 100% prepared to teach.
We are ready to keep the attention of our audience.
We are ready to help every type of learner in our classroom.
We are ready to answer questions.
We are ready to try our hardest to make each class fun and exciting.
And most importantly, we are prepared to add a silly comment here and there to make the kids laugh…even if they are only laughing—not because we are truly funny—but because we are “nerdy” and passionate about teaching.
We are the mask
with a permanent smile when our personal lives get tough or someone in our family is sick, or we are not feeling well ourselves. Or worse—a loved one passes away.
And we have to do our best to hold back the tears.
And we smile.
We always smile.
And when we have a school safety drill, we wear that mask again, hoping that our students do not see our fear or worry as we wonder if maybe, just maybe, it is more than just a drill.
We are the mask—the positive light—because our students need that.
Our students need us.
We are the replay button
that repeats our lesson again and again throughout the day.
Or, if we are elementary school teachers, we might have several preps, and so we teach many different subjects and lessons.
And just like an actor or actress on stage, we hope that each “performance” (er…lesson) is just as good as the first one we taught that day, if not better.
We are the cookies and milk
and the home away from home.
The comfort that is needed.
The safe place.
We are the sounding board
that listens to our students when they just need someone to listen.
And sometimes, we give advice.
We are the bandaid
that tries to mend the hurt.
The small superficial cuts and the ones too deep to see.
We are the night owl
that stays awake nightly.
Worrying about our students.
Praying that we made a difference on that day, and if we had a bad day—and we all do have bad days—we pray that we will make a difference tomorrow.
There is so much that goes into being a teacher—so much that many people do not know and understand. It’s early mornings, late afternoons, long nights, and weekends for many of us, too.
But Teachers, we did it!
We made it through another year.
So enjoy those last hugs from students and their handwritten thank you notes (which, by the way, Parents, is all we really hope for at the end of the year). Then, wipe away those tears that are filled with exhaustion and love and thoughts of “I just don’t know how to say goodbye to these kids.”
And take a deep breath.
Focus on your family, in ways that you could not focus on your family during the school year.
But also take the time to focus on yourself.
Recharge your batteries. Because each one of us knows that this is a job that could not possibly be a year-round job.
It is time to recover.
We must recover.
And then, come August—or September for some—we will be ready to meet our new students and tackle another year together.
And at that time, we will be ready for another year because a new class of excited children, who are eager to learn and connect with each one of us, will walk through our doors.
They will be counting on us to be there for them—to be their home away from home.
And we will be ready.
Because we always are.
But until then, my friends, raise your glass with me.
Because you did it! We did it!
Cheers to another great school year.