This is a positive post about gratitude that starts with disappointment. UNLV has an annual “teacher of the year”-type award for part timers, and I applied this year. I spent dozens of hours on a 49-page application and thought I had a great chance, but I lost. Honestly, though, as much as I would have loved to win, something even better came out of it.
Part of the application was letters of recommendation from former students. In January, I emailed about 30 of my favorite students from last semester and asked if they’d be willing to write one for me. By the end of that day, nearly half had already replied in the affirmative. Ultimately, I got eight really great letters on time. They were sincere and moving, and I had a hard time choosing just two to use in my application.
It’s such a cliché to say that grateful students make teaching worth it, but teaching is already really awesome. The fantastic people we get to work with just make it even better.
Here are two emails I got from college students this semester:
It isn’t just college students being so wonderful, either. Last week was the official teacher appreciation week, and among the great notes I got from current high school students was a heartfelt two-page letter from a former student, which ended like this:
Wow. I want to thank everyone who has ever thanked their teachers. Knowing that we can make such a big difference makes me want to be better. It’s also incredibly humbling to be blessed to work with so many amazing students. Many teachers aren’t nearly this lucky to get to hear such gratitude, even though they deserve ten times as many thanks.
One of the best things you could ever do is to thank a teacher like this. Any of us could live for weeks on these simple compliments.