Last week a friend of mine, who teaches English at a high school outside of Chicago, posted this on Facebook:
To all my friends with school aged children,
I want you to know something. I love your children. I love the learning and the chaos and the laughter and the mess that make up my classroom. I love teaching children every day to be kind and brave. I don’t mind spending many extra hours at home creating engaging learning experiences for my students. I don’t mind the weekend hours of adding authentic feedback to each writing assignment I collect because I BELIEVE in the strength and the power of the written word.
But, I also want you to know that February is hard. It’s dark and cold and filled with all kinds of yucky germs (and hopefully hand sanitizer!). If you’ve ever considered sending a quick note of gratitude to your child’s teacher, do it during the month of February. Such small gestures go a long way to lift spirits and brighten days—and they mean more than you can ever know.
As I expect you can discern from her words, Beth is the kind of teacher parents hope and pray their children will have during their high school years: engaged and engaging, interested and interesting, and, as she has been since I first met her during our freshman year of college, wise beyond her years.
Beth's assessment of the month seems so simple, yet I had never thought about February in that way until the moment she spelled it out for me. I decided to act on her suggestion and send notes of thanks and encouragement to Will and Hallie's teachers, and then, as I sat at my desk writing these notes, I realized Beth's words could apply to other professions and populations as well.
February is hard. For months, postal carriers have been braving subzero temperatures to deliver our mail. City employees have been plowing, salting, and sanding their way through massive snowfalls and freezing rain to keep our roadways safe. Doctors and nurses have been dealing with the worst flu epidemic in decades while trying to promote health and healing. Those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, and/or anxiety may have been struggling more than usual to survive these dark days.
So today, in honor of Valentine's Day, in addition to showing your affection for your spouse, partner, children, family members, and friends, share your love with those outside of your immediate circle who might need a boost. Send a message to your children's teachers. Leave a thank you note in your mailbox for your postal carrier. Post words of encouragement for doctors and nurses or a note of gratitude for city employees on their respective Facebook pages. Send an email to friends and/or acquaintances who struggle when the days are short and the nights are long.
In short, share the love.
Beth, I have known since the day you started classes to become a teacher that you would one day be one of the best. Thank you for pouring every ounce of yourself into making sure the young people who pass through your classroom become both competent writers and kind, hard-working human beings.
Happy birthday to my sis-in-law, Chandi, and happy anniversary to my parents!