Dear teacher, thank you

It is a peaceful place that is engaging, but not overwhelming. To P, Mrs. M’s classroom is the safest place in the whole school. It is the place where he can be himself.

 

In honor of  National Teachers Week, this post is for the teachers who greet the students each morning with hugs and smiles.  The teachers who encourage the kids to work to their very best potential and the ones who aren’t afraid to look silly in front of your class. And for the teachers who smile at the end of the day because you know today was a good day.   There are teachers who will forever be engraved in your heart.  You know the teachers who helped you, who encouraged you, who inspired you, who pushed you, who never gave up on you.  Maybe to those teachers, they were just doing their job.  But to you, their words and actions may have been life-changing.

You know the clique, “Some people enter our lives when we need them most”? I have heard it all my life from various outlets: church, religion teachers, books, movies, friends, and family members. It is not that I did not believe them. I thought it was for other people, so I never really subscribed to it. However, that is until many years later Mrs. M entered our lives as P’s beloved second-grade teacher. Boy has Mrs. M worked wonders on my boy.

Mrs. M had her hands full when P blasted into her classroom.  P suffered from some pretty serious school attendance issues the previous year. (Tardy 22 times and missed over 15 days of school as a first grader.) At the time, P’s school was living blissfully with the idea that he was “all boy” and he’d “grow out of this phase.”  P brought along a lot of baggage to second grade, but it was Mrs. M who knew exactly what he needed. She became the unofficial in-house expert on all things P.

Let me tell you a little bit about Mrs. M because maybe it will stir up some of your own school memories about that one teacher who just got you or the teacher whose classroom was so much fun to be a part of even for a short period of time that you were in it.  Mrs. M is the picture of patience. She is calm and peaceful. Encouraging and inspiring.  The right amount of fun and laughter. Children respond to her.  Mrs. M speaks calmly and quietly, and all eyes are on her hanging on her every word.  I saw it with P.  He eagerly listened to the next instructions from Mrs. M.  His school attendance came more in line with that of his peers. (Not sitting in the car refusing to get out because something might be different in school that day.)   P was happy to go to school and do work…on most days. Not every day was smooth and not every day was fun, but through it all, Mrs. M was bright and positive highlighting the strengths P was showing in the classroom.  At home, dealing with the day to day special needs of P  became a bit easier due to Mrs. M being a tireless advocate for him.  Mrs. M was able to connect the right people together to let them know the importance of needing an IEP with appropriate accommodations.

It was a moment in time that Mrs. M probably doesn’t remember because she calls it just doing her job as a teacher to not only P but 19 other little humans in her room. But, to me, it was a moment that validated our concerns and feelings that P was not just “all boy,” and he wasn’t “growing out of it.”   He was falling behind, and he needed help.  The help came in the form of Mrs. M.  She listened to me ask questions, she offered her opinion and advice, and when it became overwhelming for me, she was there to offer a sympathetic ear as the tears rolled down my cheeks.  The connections helped P get the teaching he needed.  At the end of the day, she reminded me that “tomorrow is a new day.”

Now that P is in fifth grade we’ve had the benefit of Mrs. M for a few years now. She allows P to come to school early to hang out in her classroom. It is a peaceful place that is engaging, but not overwhelming. To P, Mrs. M’s class is the safest place in the whole school. It is the place where he can be himself.  There is no judgment or pressure.   Together they play cards, P helps out in the classroom, or they talk about the day ahead. It is the perfect time for him to calm nerves, take a deep breath, and make sure he is ready for the day to start. Who knew that spending 10 minutes with Mrs. M would make the difference between a great day and an Ok day? I’ll give you a hint: it was me! In our house, we joke that Mrs. M is a miracle worker/saint.

The best message that I got to share with Mrs. M went like this “Not every day is an easy day with P and not every day is fun. All P knows is that he had a teacher who was happy to see him daily.  He knows his teacher loves him unconditionally.”   P likes to say Mrs. M has a happy heart.  I am now a firm believer that some people enter our lives when we need them most.  Mrs. M had her work cut out for her with P in her classroom.  When things got tough, she didn’t throw in the towel.  When P was feeling overwhelmed, he would hide in the bathroom.  On a daily basis, Mrs. M marched into the bathroom to retrieve P and bring him back to the classroom making sure he was a part of the classroom community.

Because of Mrs. M’s unwavering advocating, P was able to be a part of the school community.  She became P’s person.  When no one else knew what to do, it was Mrs. M who came to the rescue with her calm and peaceful attitude.  Those were the days, I knew I had won the teacher lottery!  I can only hope our family has encouraged Mrs. M  and helped her realize she is doing exactly what she needs to do helping more children reach their very best potential.

Teachers are amazing!  They love our children on a daily basis, they teach rules both written and unwritten, they teach children to apologize and mean it, they make children read and write and then do it all over again.  The teachers balance out the needs of their class and are present for each student in the way that each student needs.

Do you have memories of a teacher like Mrs. M?  What made your teacher so special?  Leave me a comment.

 

All my best to you,

Heather

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