I bet this looks like just a door to you. You may think it’s nothing special, just another classroom door that could lead to countless classrooms across the US. But you would be wrong. This particular door shows so much more than just the opening your kids walk through everyday to learn reading and writing. See how the lights are still on on the other side? This picture was taken last night hours after the laughter and chatter had left the building. Behind that door is a teacher who is putting in their 11th hour of the day at school and still has work to be done. The teacher is correcting papers from the 170 students they see each day, making sure that everyone’s grades get entered, and pouring over the papers to try and understand what’s working and what the students need extra help on, feeling like they themselves have failed as a teacher when one of their students fail.
Head across the hallway and you find another teacher just locking up their room. They’ve been looking over state testing scores, checking to see who is progressing and what topics need to be brushed up on. If you head up the stairs a science teacher is in the gym for the Science Fair. She unselfishly gave up her own personal time to sit with the projects so that people could come and see them after their own workday.
As you drive away you can see there are a few lone lights still on in classrooms up the hill. And this is just one night. Other nights or early mornings you will find music teachers prepping for concerts and plays, math teachers working hard to become familiar with a new curriculum so they can teach it to the kids and make sure they excel. Teachers grading papers, writing tests, making lesson plans, in meetings, working on report cards, reading research papers, creating activities, worrying about why Susie doesn’t seem to be herself lately or why Tommy hasn’t been turning in assignments. They want to make sure each child knows their worth, knows they are loved, knows they can do great things while still making sure they know about the Constitution, and cell division, and past participles.
The door in the picture mentioned above belongs to a 5th grade classroom. The teacher behind that door is my husband. The teacher across the hall and up the stairs are my coworkers, the lights on in classrooms up the hill belong to my friends, and the teachers you will find all over the US are my mother, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, brothers-in-law, neighbors and cousins. I have watched first-hand my entire life the love and dedication that is poured out of teachers over so many young minds. I have seen the tears of frustration and the tears of joy. Teaching is not for the faint of heart.
To all the teachers out there who are feeling exhausted, spread-thin, wondering if you’re doing anything right or making a difference at all, please know that you.are.amazing.
You are doing some of the most noble work that all too often is underappreciated and for what it’s worth, I appreciate you and what you do.
“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”