Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doors of Fame

When I was growing up we didn’t give teachers formal end of year gifts like people do today.  We brought a handful of flowers our mom said we could pick from her garden or an apple; small tokens of our appreciation.

Many years ago, fourteen to be exact, I taught at a small private school.  The clientele was a bit well-to-do and the teacher gifts were extravagant, in my opinion.  Higher end jewelry, gift cards with amounts of $50 and more(!), and certificates to spas that I had never hoped of visiting were all graciously given and received.  I’m grateful for all that was bestowed upon me but the best gift I received is still growing in my front yard—an azalea bush.  The cheery bright pink flowers help welcome spring year after year and remind me of the wonderful children I had the privilege of working with for those two years.

This years I received a few gifts—the fewest ever.  I hope it’s the economy and not a commentary on my teaching—much like you would leave a smaller tip for less than stellar service!  One mom made me the most scrumptious banana bread ever.  I wrote her a poem to thank her.  Along with the Dunkin Donuts and Michaels gift cards, chocolates, candles, Mardi Gras beads, and impatiens plants were my absolute favorite gifts of all:  letters of appreciation. 

There is a huge human need to feel appreciated and teachers are no different.  Many of us pour our hearts and souls into our daily interactions with the children we have been blessed with for 180 school days.  We go home drained only to put in another 2-3 hours correcting papers, planning and creating new lessons, making phone calls to parents, and more.  While I am thankful to be paid for a job I love, I really enjoy getting letters from grateful parents and students.  It’s like getting a pat on the back—it feels good and is very motivating.
These letters and cards go in a very special place in my classroom—on the inside doors of my cabinet.  I call it my “Doors of Fame.”  When I feel low and wonder if it’s time for me to “retire” I open those doors and read the affirmations of my efforts.  This recharges my batteries and I can then continue to do my best at this job/profession/avocation/mission:  creating lifelong learners.

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