Thursday, May 9, 2013

Teacher Appreciation

So we are rounding out teacher appreciation week, and it has made me stop and think.

When I look online, the only people posting things about the need to appreciate teachers are teachers themselves.  All of a sudden facebook blew up with status up dates and pictures and memes about how you need to appreciate your teachers.  I saw one of my former teachers post:

 "I am a teacher and this is MY WEEK!  Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10,  If you can read this, thank a teacher.  BTW, you're welcome :D"

But if only teachers are posting things about how you should appreciate us... how authentic is that really?   Don't get me wrong, that was my former teacher who posted it.  I am very grateful for her and what she did for me.  She opened doors for a passion of mine that flourished and helps to define who I am today.  (Christ actually defines that, but she opened the doors to allow Him to work in me)   I would still be the same person today, but I would have a much different skill set if it weren't for the teachers in my life.

My point is this... why must teachers demand to be appreciated?  Is it really "being appreciated"  if it is forced, scripted, or even done so that mothers of students can one up each other?  Is there real meaning in that?

This week I personally have not had one single student bring me a gift.  No cards.  No letters.  Nothing that has "teacher appreciation" written all over it.  I did however, get my first invitation to a senior graduation.  And while I realize that almost every student that is 18 is about to do this, it was a first for me.  The school I work at opened 2 years ago; my first year of teaching was it's first year too) with two grades, freshman and sophomores.  Those sophomores are now seniors and are about to graduate.

It was amazing how in a matter of about 3 seconds, it went from being an average day to being a really proud and special moment.  My class was watching a (very educational) video, and my senior came and knocked on my door, I stepped out into the hall and she handed me a crisp white envelope with my maiden name written on it.  (She had me my first year of teaching before I was married... so that name has stuck for that class.)  I was taken by surprise as I opened it to see the formal school crest on the invitation inside.  This student is a very special student.  She isn't at the top of her class or the best athlete, or in with the "right" crowed, but to me... she is something memorable.  In the invitation, she had two pictures-- a picture from prom and a picture in her cap and gown.  Instantly I was over taken with an emotion that I am not sure I can describe accurately.  Before my very eyes I had watched this young, timid girl grow into this mature, active adult.  She no longer is shy and under spoken-- she is confident and proud in a humble kind of way.  I am not sure who is more proud of her... me or her.  And of course, I started to cry.

That experience was enough thank you for me.  I felt more appreciated in that unscripted unplanned moment than in anything preplanned or scheduled.  It was exactly what I needed to get me through the rest of the day, week and even the rest of this year.   It made all of the time and work I have invested the last 3 years worth it.  And it wasn't put on the calendar by some politician somewhere either.  It wasn't mandated by others or required by me.

The invitation meant so much more than any store bought card could have.  What am I trying to say? That maybe actions speak louder than words.  That maybe the pride that I have not in myself, but in my students is really something special.  It isn't self-righteous or boastful. 

With all of that being said.... it got me thinking about my relationship with the Lord.  Maybe He doesn't just want my praise on Sundays.  Maybe everyday action, loving Jesus pleases Him more than time in a church pew.  Maybe me going out of my way to bless someone else makes Him feel the same pride that I felt in my student today.  Maybe He wants more for me than I want for myself.   Maybe He sees more potential in me than I do.  Maybe He doesn't want my attention on meaningless day to day rituals but more on the Glory of Him. 

And maybe He wants that for you too.  Not in a demanding or forceful way but in a kind, humble, selfless way.  

Just something to think about.  What do you think?



  1. Alissa, this was beautiful. You brought tears to my eyes.

    I personally think we should have a student appreciation week, since they are the reason we get up every morning. They are the ones that bring the tears (hopefully good ones) to our eyes. ''

    Great post!

  2. Alissa, Great words from an even greater person serving an even greater God!