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Thanks, Professor!
Photo: Helen Humphrey
When I worked as a tutor in the Writing Center students would often come for help with their essays. Occasionally, new students would be on the verge of tears as they showed me their returned papers, dripping with red ink and a big, fat F imbedded firmly across the top. I recognized the handwriting…Professor F again. “Why does he have to grade so hard?” the students would wail.

Some teachers do seem very difficult to please. Some are just plain cranky (maybe because they stayed up too late grading papers.) Others are burned out from over-work and discouraged from being underpaid and under-appreciated.

Probably everyone has at least one teacher they don’t care for. My least favorite was a young (very young) man who routinely arrived in the classroom late. After dropping his things on the desk and plopping his ample body into the teacher’s chair, he would lean back lazily, sigh, then inquire, “So! What do you guys wanna talk about today?”

Obviously, Professor X was not prepared to teach anything. My other professors, however, more than made up for Professor X through their consistent professionalism, high-quality instruction and genuine interest in the success of their students. I still maintain contact with several of them. (Someday soon you will need references—teachers are a good source!)

Encouraging Notes

I recall one specific teacher who seemed almost overwhelmed by her massive workload. As second semester rolled around and enrollment remained low there were rumors of big budget cuts. Ms. N, being the newest and having no tenure, would be the first to lose her job. Sensing how “down” she was, I decided to try to cheer her up by leaving anonymous notes of appreciation and little upbeat sayings. I guess I wasn’t as subtle as I intended to be; several years later Ms. N reminded me of my small acts of kindness and said they had definitely been encouraging to her during a difficult time.

Teachers, like everyone else, do appreciate being thanked for their efforts. One couple I know who are retired teachers recently received a letter from a young woman who was a student in their school. Many people had given up on this girl ever doing anything with her life. Now she was writing to say she had graduated from high school, finished college and recently completed medical school. She thanked her former teachers for taking the time and energy to encourage her and help her to develop her skills and her character. I know that letter will always be treasured.

Being a teacher in today’s society is far from easy. Remember how valuable a thing an education is and where you would end up if you weren’t getting one. Teacher Appreciation Week is always in May, but you don’t have to wait to show your gratitude. Do your assignments well, smile, and say “thanks!” today.

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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