We should give elementary teachers an extra dose of hugs. They certainly deserve it. In high school, all I have to do is teach English. Just one focus for the whole day. We also have the switching class advantage, too. A crew comes in for an hour and then is gone. So, if my third-period class is a little rough, all I have to do is survive for 55 minutes, and they’re gone. High school is nice.
But elementary school? Wow! Teachers have the same kids all day long. Most even eat lunch with their crew, so there really is no break for adult talk. And the actual teaching part? I can’t imagine teaching a child how to read early morning, then switching gears to metamorphosis mid-morning, then again to the Underground Railroad early afternoon, and yet again to simple division right before school ends. How do they do it?
Couple all that with teaching our children core values like dignity, respect, perseverance, and determination, and I am flabbergasted and in awe. I just don’t think I could do what they do. Our very youngest, most precious and innocent treasures are being placed in the hands of some truly magnificent, caring individuals we call elementary school teachers. Yeah, they definitely need an extra squeeze.
Like fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Sasha Smith, at St. Mary’s Magnet Academy – she deserves an extra dessert at dinner for sure. In a world where children are often displaced, lonely, abandoned, uprooted, and forgotten, Mrs. Smith’s classroom becomes a safe place for her students – a home, as she calls it. She fosters a consistent safe-haven full of patience, encouragement, and genuine care. Where hard work is expected, and excuses are not allowed. Where triumphs and trials are met with class, dignity, and perseverance. Where a child can be a child.
As Mrs. Smith would say, longevity in a profession like education requires a faith in both the things seen and unseen and the wisdom to recognize and glean strength from both. Like finding and solving the issue in the silence of a scared child. Or gaining affirmation from the half-smile of a hurting little girl. Or feeling pride in the achievement of struggling young boy.
And as Mrs. Smith would say, teaching is a 24/7 responsibility, a career not for the weary at heart. Teachers don’t leave their duty post when the final car-rider is picked up. They don’t eat dinner with their family and not talk about their students. And they certainly don’t go to bed without first praying for the safety of their kids. Because all the Mrs. Smiths in the world have answered the call to rise up and fight for our kids, to provide a net of safety for the unprotected, to stand beside the lonely, and to teach both the teachable and the unteachable.
It’s not about planning the perfect fifth-grade math lesson for Mrs. Smith. It’s not about test scores or evaluations. What matters most to Mrs. Smith and the many teachers just like her is creating a home for children where they can thrive and flourish beyond potential, rise and fall without judgment, and laugh and learn as children deserve.
Yes, the very least we can do for teachers like Mrs. Smith is give them a thankful hug. So, consider yourself embraced, my colleagues. Thanks for all you do.