Parents may joke about the craziness of shepherding our children through the school year, but when it comes to teachers, they deserve our heartfelt thanks.
Spending day after day educating, nurturing, disciplining, and encouraging a diverse group of young kids is not a job for the faint of heart.
I recently spent an hour volunteering in my son’s kindergarten classroom. After a single hour, I was 1- ready for a nap, 2- really wishing I had brought hand sanitizer with me, and 3- reminded of what truly amazing human beings our kids’ teachers really are.
While we do our best as parents to create a loving, cohesive family environment, teachers are striving to do the same in their classrooms. It’s easy to underestimate the depth of the relationships between students & their teachers simply because we don’t see it in action on a daily basis.
A teacher’s viral Facebook post that describes her own sentimental reflections on the end of another school year is a powerful reminder of the effect that the school year has on a class- and not just the students.
Betsy Eggart, has been teaching first grade at Lipscomb Elementary School in Pensacola, FL. for 15 years. Her reflections on teaching have gone viral before; in May 2018, her Facebook post urging educators to ditch summer work packets in favor of promoting summer rest & family time received massive accolades on social media.
As a mother of son Jackson (9) and daughter Emma (2), Betsy’s writings emphasize her perspective on education not just as a teacher, but as a mother that entrusts her own children to fellow teachers as well. The popularity of Eggart’s summer break post motivated her to pursue her passion for writing, & her own blog and public Facebook page soon followed.
Her newest post features a picture of Betsy’s now-empty classroom, and her eloquent reflections on the emotions of ending another school year.
Betsy poignantly describes looking into her classroom one last time before the summer, & I’d be lying if I said her words didn’t give me all.the.feels. As she cleans up, she realizes that she feels “hollow”, because it hits her that:
For 180 days, 19 children have walked into my doorway. I have heard them laugh the deep down heal your heart belly laughs.
I have held them through tears and covered boos boos with bandaids. I have known they were sick without a thermometer.
(That’s one of the coolest mom tricks, isn’t it? We can instantly sense a child’s fever- no thermometer required.)
180 days. 180 days of seeing your child, bonding with your child, KNOWING your child. 180 days of shared experiences.
But it’s not a one-sided deal. It’s not merely a teacher knowing his or her students, but students knowing their teacher, too:
They have seen me laugh so hard when I couldn’t hold back. They have seen me cry when I couldn’t mask the hurt. They knew my last nerve and right where to find it.
(Sounds a lot like motherhood, too, doesn’t it??)
They knew coffee is necessary…so much they’d remind me to bring it with me for morning assemblies. They knew what would warm my heart on a frazzled day.
Eggart’s words illustrate a relationship- and a genuine, authentic one at that. Because within 180 days of continued interaction:
We became a family.
Every teacher creates a unique environment in their classroom. It IS a family of sorts- for better (or in some unfortunate cases, for worse). Betsy describes the kind of authentic, loving family environment that every parent hopes their child will be lucky enough to experience while at school.
For this year anyway, that experience is now over for Betsy’s first graders. As she closes their student files and turns off individual student reminders, she’s reminded of the reality:
This is one of the more gut wrenching parts of the job.
Like a parent letting go, teachers let go, too. The end of the school year is the end of that special “family time”- Eggart’s students are now entrusted to her second-grade colleagues. While teachers look forward to summer break, there’s a bittersweet twinge:
Then we pack it all up, close the door and think how lucky we are to have known them…to forever call them, “my kids” and to have the opportunity to begin again with new little faces who will, once again, become family.
Betsy Eggart’s words drive home the heart of a dedicated teacher. There’s a reason that we, even as adults, still remember our favorite teachers.
They were life-changing. They inspired us, loved us, changed us.
If you entrust your children to a school for eight hours a day over 180 days, you want them to feel loved. Challenged. Supported. Encouraged. Corrected as needed. Inspired.
And teachers like Betsy Eggart are doing exactly that- on our behalf. They are loving our kids like their own while our kids are under their stead, & it’s beautiful relationship. If your child has been fortunate enough to have had a teacher like Betsy this year, keep her words in mind and be sure to thank him or her.