This is Why I Teach: They Care Enough to Make Cards!

It’s no secret to regular Radical readers that I often get worn down by the grind of teaching.  Wrap the public criticism piled on teachers at every turn up with the crappy policies that have stripped the joy out of the public school classroom and you have a profession that leaves me wondering more and more every year.

But there IS joy in teaching — and this week, it came in the form of a pile of birthday cards from my students:

Such a small thing, right?  But to me, it meant everything.  

The kids thanked me and teased me and joked about my hairline and the fact that I’m apparently older than dirt.  Some snuck the cards into my room and left them for me to discover on my desk.  Others came in groups of two or three to share creations that they had worked on together.

They worked on their cards during homeroom, during our school wide enrichment block and during their classes.  My guess is that they missed a ton of content, distracted by the simple act of celebrating one of their teachers.

I missed a ton of content, too:  At the end of the day, I ignored the four thousand email messages sitting in my inbox and smiled my way through a pile of special memories from a group of kids that I care about.

While those memories won’t pay the bills or take away the sting of criticism that I feel every time I read the paper or listen to the radio, they do serve as a tangible reminder that this profession really IS rewarding.

This is why I teach.


Related Radical Reads:

Teaching is a Grind

The Straw

This is Why I Teach: Individual Moments Matter

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  • ReneeMoore

    Me, too.

    Nothing more precious than those heartfelt gifts and comments from students. I have boxes and rooms full of them (really), and they’re worth more than all the trophies, golden apples, and awards.

    Also, helps me to remember that I work for the Lord Jesus, not for the school, and He will ultimately reward me for all work done in His Name for the least of these.

    Meanwhile, keep fighting the good fight!

  • BillIvey


    Those kids Know. 🙂

  • TriciaEbner


    It’s not uncommon for my “civilian” friends to ask me, “What should I get my child’s teacher for __________?”  (fill in the blank: Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Day, end of the year, etc.).  I always say, “A handwritten note from your child is the best gift that teacher could get.” 

    Very few believe me. Yet that’s what I hang onto. I carry one written in crayon in my briefcase, everywhere. Really. 

    Love those notes. Best antidote for those days when it seems we haven’t made a single impact on anyone, anywhere.