Real Teacher Appreciation

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:

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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:

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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.

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One comment on “Real Teacher Appreciation

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t win. I would give the award to you in a heartbeat if I had any say in the matter. You exemplify the type of teacher, parent and person I strive to be every day. It’s been almost ten years since I left your classroom, and I still vividly remember your lessons. Your class inspired me to think deeper and broaden my understanding of our world. You acknowledged and supported me during a dark time in my life (without realizing it), and you rekindled my passion for learning. And most importantly, your influence never left me as I moved through college, started my own family, and began my teaching career. I still own my American Literature binder and refer to it when I need a little inspiration. I’ve talked to my husband about trying 25 goals for 25 days when I turn 25 this year, just like you. Your knowledge and understanding of the gospel motivates me to be a stronger disciple of Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for being the man you are. I can genuinely say I am a better person because I know you. You’ve been a force for good in countless lives, and I hope you continue to teach as long as you are able. You’re bomb awesome at what you do and deserve that award more than any teacher I know.

    Laura

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