Friday, May 17, 2013

Thank Your Teachers

My husband excels at many things. One of those things is teaching. Larry is one of those rare people who slip into the teacher mode like one would slip on a glove, no matter what he is doing.  He currently works with middle school students, but when he is working with Zane's soccer team, he is equally at ease.  He is the one who spends the time to work with Zane on sight words, counting. He's the one who explains things to him using smaller words so he understands.  I have never had the patience for that stuff.

When I met my husband, he taught 8th grade.  For their novels, his students read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Nobody ever told those kids that the trilogy was way above their reading level, but my husband knew.  How do you instill a love of reading and writing in kids with books well above their reading level?  They read the books together.  They read aloud in class.  He read to them in the voices of the characters, and they loved it.  Those kids would do anything to hear Larry read aloud, including their homework!  And by the end of the year, those students were reading those books by themselves.  Oh, and they passed the state test, too.   I remember how excited Larry used to be about teaching, days when he was practically bouncing with glee because another kid had come up and asked him questions about Tolkien.  Kids that Larry didn't even know were begging to be in his classes.  Parents were calling the school and asking for their kid, because a friend of a friend's son or daughter learned so much in Larry's class.

These days Larry has been feeling unappreciated, to the point that he doesn't even know if he wants to be a teacher anymore.  Yes, it's that bad.  No matter what he does, it's not good enough this year, it seems. But sometimes, when things are dark, a little ray of sunshine appears.  A student sent Larry an email a few weeks ago:


You probably don't remember me, but I am an old student of yours. I was in your English class back when I was in middle school around 2002. I’m emailing you because I have started my thesis work for my Master’s in Literature and while writing the introduction I thought of you and your class. I did not know it at the time, but your teaching made me want to be a teacher. After your class I had a number of poor English instructors and always thought back to how you made class fun and interactive.  I was required to do Student Teaching for my last requirement to obtain my Bachelors in English with Teacher Certification and I must admit I was scared out of my mind and worried that I would fail. I interned at predominantly English Language Learner school with students who seemed to not want to read or even pay attention.  After a few days of students staring blankly at me I realized that I had become the teacher that I hated. I had become an assigner of texts instead of tour guide through challenging material. Again, my mind went back to your class and it was like a light bulb.  I remembered how you used different voices for each character in Lord of the Rings and made listening and reading along something that I enjoyed doing. So I did the same for my students and realized that with a little more effort they became engaged.

I’m now on my last courses for the Master’s program and I am doing something that isn’t normally done in my program and I have you to thank for it. I am a not only a thesis student, but I am also minoring in Reading Education. It was you who taught me that a normal teacher teaches the text, but a great teacher teaches deeper reading skills and instills a passion for comprehension in his/her student.  I’m applying for a Doctoral program after I graduate with hopes of one day being a Professor of Literature.  

I realize that this is out of the blue, but I just wanted to thank you for being such a great teacher and inspiring me still after all these years.

 Former Student

That email made Larry's day, and made him think that he was in the right job after all.

Larry can't be the only teacher out there feeling unappreciated.  If you know a great teacher out there, take a moment to send them a note of thanks.  Because there isn't an adult out there--doctors, lawyers, rock stars, police officers, scientists--who hasn't had at least one great teacher influence their lives.  

It's time to say thank you.  


  1. A wonderful testament to your husband, from the student and from you. We NEED teachers like Larry.

  2. My kids write end of the year notes each go with the cookies. I never want them to go unappreciated. Sure some get "better" notes than others, but they all get at least a thank you!


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