This end of summer season is breathtaking and breathless all in the same. We are all exhausted from a summer full of adventure and life-giving activities. We’re intoxicated with sunshine and pool days (or maybe not- and you’re intoxicated with exhaustion). As the summer winds down, we all know- children or no children- that it’s back-to-school season. Back-to-school brings about many emotions and although for someone like me who has always loved school and even more now as a teacher, I think that this season can be difficult. Schedules are changing faster than we can update our iPhone calendars and we’ve officially lost track of the last day we’ve slept in, but school is starting and this is going to be our new normal. I wanted to take a few minutes to address a few different groups of people from the perspective of a teacher- because well, my family and friends could use “teacher help” from time-to-time, and I believe everyone could.
So first up, to the students: As a teacher, I need you to know- we’re absolutely obsessed with you! You have made our days so much bigger and brighter. You are the reason we wake up. We don’t arrive an hour before you come so that we can gladly go through data and have meetings and plan things. We get there early because we want everything to be perfect for you. We want you to walk into our classroom and shine your biggest and brightest light. Our longing and desire is for you to be grateful that a space has been created for you that is so evidently created with you in mind. It is my deepest apology if you haven’t met a teacher that you connected with or didn’t feel loved by. Those teachers are far and few between. Our hearts are for YOU + already- with a week away, we can’t sleep at night because we’re so excited to meet you.
A sweet student of mine from my first year teaching who I still stay in contact with!
And this little sweetie- she always brought a smile to my face in a year where I desperately needed it.
To the parents: Let’s just lay this out right away- your child’s teacher is never in it to make your year awful- at least not the teachers I know. You may not agree with us and that’s okay. It isn’t our job to make you agree with everything, but it is our job to do what we know to be best for your child. Your child is our main priority when they’re at school. Our aim is not to make you feel like they mean anything less to us (and trust me, we care about your children on the weekends, over winter and spring break, and most of all, over the summer). If you have a genuine concern for your child, please voice it and let us know how we can help. But I am sorry, we cannot be held responsible for your child “not having any homework on Tuesday because of dance, and not eating carrots, but really liking most vegetables, but only raw and please don’t forget that they like to rest their eyes from 2:05-2:16 every day because they are tired and of course please don’t forget that your husband travels every third week in every odd numbered month and of course we won’t call your cell phone from 10:00 am- 12:00 pm and even if it’s an emergency still don’t call, but if it’s a more serious one then do”. And on and on and on. If you’ve been a teacher for any amount of time, you’ve gotten this request from a parent. And parents, we LOVE you, but these standards are unmeetable. We are at school to teach your child the best that we can by teaching to the whole brain and body, by doing our best to meet their social, emotional, physical, and overall needs. We are for you. As we head into the school year, don’t forget that. If you feel as though loving your child’s teacher isn’t first nature to you, let me just give you a few standard ways to encourage your child’s teacher through the Love Languages framework.
- Start the year by asking your child’s teacher how you can best support them. They may tell you “I really could use help in the classroom” or they may say “Sometimes the days are long and I could really use an after school coffee”. You may be thinking already “but I don’t have a schedule where I can just help”- so let me break this down for you.
- If your child’s teacher is open to it- ask them what their love language is. Below I’ve outlined the five types, and if your child’s teacher doesn’t know, feel free to send them the online quiz or make your best call on which of the following fit the teacher.
- Acts of Service: This teacher just wants your help in the classroom. Offer to cut laminate or to come in to read with children. If you can’t make it during the day, ask the teacher if there is anything she needs cut in the evenings. Offer to do it for one hour a week or whatever capacity you may have.
- Gifts: Your child’s teacher may feel celebrated by a simple gift. It doesn’t have to be much. One parent I had in my classroom a few years ago would do simple gifts that meant so much! A coffee on a random Tuesday afternoon or a lip balm in the winter with a cute saying. Search Pinterest- they have you!
- Physical Touch: This isn’t really your job, but if your child is a hugger or if you are, when appropriate, feel free to express this.
- Words of Affirmation: Write your child’s teacher a card. Just a simple thank you for what they’re doing. Teachers like to know that they are seen and cared for. Send an email or a text (depending on your relationship). Even just a simple “thank you” at drop- off can mean so much.
- Quality Time: Spend time in your child’s classroom if you can. Maybe you can’t be there during the day, but ask if there is a way you can come visit once a month during your lunch break. Spend quality time with your child and their classmates- get to know their families and grow that community.
For my fellow teachers: The school year is coming and it can no longer be stopped. We will desperately miss summer- cooking meals at home for lunch, taking 10:00 am walks with friends, drinking our coffee while it’s hot, and feeling like we can finally be the wife, mom, sister, aunt, and friend that we’ve always longed to be through the school year. Another year will bring it’s own challenges, but can we all promise to be gracious to each other? To offer thanks to each other for being there in the hard times and to offer praises to each other when the school year is going well and exciting. Can we promise not to shame each other for the lack of meals we’ve cooked at home and the lack of commitment we can make throughout the school year? Can we randomly pick up a coffee for each other just to make it through the day with no specials? I need this and so you may need this, too, but we are in this together. I’ve been praying throughout the summer for all the teachers in my life- that they would rest well and that they would feel refreshed through the school year. I pray this is you. Let’s do this. Let’s love our students hard and let’s brag on each other like nobody’s business. We’re in this together and we can do it- if you’re me, you need the help of the Lord, but nonetheless, we CAN and we WILL do this. We will love students better than ever and we will attend all the professional days, do all the school book studies, make sure we meet our goals, and still love students while we do it. Praying for you and with you- we’ve got this.
My teaching partner last year! So grateful for her!
Some more sweet, teacher friends. These are the people we do life with. We need each other.
To Teacher’s Friends and Family: We are apologizing in advance. I know that every single summer I tell myself I’ll be better the next year. I’ll make sure that I save space for my family and friends and that I won’t become overcommitted, but this is extremely difficult. We want to make plans with you, but sometimes we’re exhausted. Would you just vow to be gracious to us and to give us encouragement continuously? We need it. We love you and are grateful for your support- in our busiest seasons and our slowest seasons. Schedule time with us, but don’t be discouraged if it isn’t for a few weeks or months. Let us fall asleep at 8:00 pm for a few weeks as we re-adjust (that’s for my husband 😉 ). Genuinely ask us how to pray for and care for our students. If you’re the husband or the dad, offer to make dinner just once or twice a week (we don’t care if it’s Dominos pizza- REALLY). Help keep us accountable to do the things we love- like maybe meeting with a friend once a week via phone call to make sure that they are still reading books for fun and still trying to crush goals that they started in the summer. We need you and are grateful for you.
And last, to anyone who works with youth- not JUST teachers: You are the best. We need more people willing to step up. My husband is a youth pastor and I can’t help but be amazed at the amount of care and compassion he has for students, too. Substitute teachers, school nurses, school staff, social workers, and everyone else- we see you and are so appreciative.
My own sweet youth group girls ❤
Friends, thank you for helping me unpack this. Helping me to process through how we can all support each other. I pray this is helpful for you in some small way and can’t wait to see what this year brings. We are in this together.
Teachers Here, There, + Everywhere.