Last week was teacher appreciation week. One of the days, I happened to catch #thankateacher on Twitter. The Department of Education tweeted:
This is how @usedgov staff #ThankATeacher – handwritten notes recognizing the educators who have impacted our lives the most. 💌 pic.twitter.com/PUZ32znUj4
— US Dept of Education (@usedgov) May 12, 2017
This made me think about more than a handful of students who have, over the years, thanked me for providing a safe space where they could be themselves. I have a tendency to attract the queerlings and the nerdlings and they’re all fabulous.
More immediately, I thought about a student of mine who reminds me of me as a teen (though she’s able to articulate her challenges, where I didn’t have the language, even when I was older than she is now). She said that my class and Mr. A____’s class were the spaces where she felt safe.
Maybe I would have found this place – the place where there’s a Safe Zone poster on my classroom door (one of 5 in the building), the place where I have the spot people want to come to be their authentic selves. But I 100% believe that I co-created this space with my students (and the others that I manage to pick up along the way) because I had a teacher who provided me with the space when I needed it the most.
I don’t remember much from high school, but I do remember Swiss Rolls and milk, and doing AP Stat & Prob homework in Simon’s room during lunch. I think we talked sometimes, but I don’t remember the conversations. I do remember she tried to kick me out of her class for the best possible reasons. I am thankful, now, that my mother insisted I graduate with Indiana Academic Honors, which necessitated my staying in Simon’s class.
All of that to say, I wanted to write Simon a handwritten note, too. So I did, and then put it on Instagram.
I have a few teachers that I’m thankful for, most of them are teachers from elementary school. I’m actually friends with my fourth-grade teacher on Facebook.