To the instructors in my life,
You have taken many different forms over the years. The first of you still believed in wearing dresses to work every day. With beauty salon cotton tops and SAS shoes, you brought a grandmotherly feel to the classroom. You nurtured the budding inquisitiveness which has never dulled or tired.
Some along the way were examples of how not to treat children. Authoritarian or totalitarian is better than teacher for your titles. The iron fists gripping rulers and chalk remind me to be gentle with those I teach.
Funky and fun were in the mix. Keeping young by meeting students on a fashionable plane, you taught the benefits and pitfalls of pop culture, the cult of celebrity and the “in crowd”. The lessons were humble and brash, as the case demanded. You knew how to laugh with your pupils and at yourself.
Philosophy took root early. Some of you spent precious moments caring what I thought about the world we shared and the world beyond your classroom. You noticed the differences between us which could not be measured with a calendar. In me, you saw more than the reflection of your classrooms.
Our discussions revealed you valued my insight, even when you were amazed someone my age could process human nature so adroitly. You treated me as an equal, although our knowledge pools, experiences and opinions were vastly different.
Indifference was a tough lesson. Some of you taught all your students how to go through the world without caring about anything beyond the epidermis. You did not care if we passed or failed. Our queries were met with the textbook, leading me to continually wonder how you justified your salary if we were all self-taught. Perhaps, we should have learned how to make a living taking roll.
You were a grand lesson in what not to do. As a shining contrast to what I wanted in life, your indifference inspired me to steep in my own passion and project it as far and wide as I possibly can.
Not all of you were in classrooms. On job sites, many of you were looking to abdicate your responsibility for greener pastures. Your lessons were easy to learn.
Personally, there were more of you than I ever imagined would traverse my path. I learned how to love, to respect, to grow, to charge and retreat, to forgive and not, to entertain, to commiserate, to laugh and to embrace. I learned how not to envy, nor value worthless commodities nor trust in the implausible nor wish for impossibilities nor project my problems onto others nor see malice where none exists nor desire poison nor think I was deprived, downtrodden or neglected.
To the many in the profession of teaching who have touched my life in and out of classrooms and the hundred of everyday teachers of life lessons, you have my sincerest gratitude and admiration. May many more find the value in what you impart.
This year I participated in the Month of Letters. I was not entirely successful, as I found the challenge after it had already begun.
For an M3 twist, I am writing a letter a day for the month of May.
Which teacher influenced you the most? Are teachers really undervalued? Can you write a letter a day for a month?
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