An Open Letter to Teachers: You Shape Lives Today and Always

Dear Teachers,

The past few years have been incredibly challenging, draining, and frustrating. Teaching during a global pandemic was a task that no college course adequately prepared you for. I have spent countless hours listening to teachers struggles and offering encouragement to teachers who were barely holding on. I am genuinely amazed by everything you have achieved.

You have adapted, embraced new technology, and accomplished remarkable feats to meet the needs of your students. Words cannot truly express the depth of my gratitude, as well as that of others, for your outstanding efforts in shaping the lives of children during these unprecedented times!

We all have subjects that don’t come easily to us, which is why those teachers who recognize our struggles and find ways to guide us from saying “I can’t do this, I’m stupid” to “Oh, that’s how it’s done, now I understand” are truly invaluable! Math was one of those subjects for me and many of my friends. In fact, it felt like a four-letter curse word!

I struggled with my fear of math for a long time, despite numerous attempts by many teachers to help me. It wasn’t until my final math class, which was a requirement for becoming a teacher, that things changed. It may sound crazy, but even though I still don’t feel confident teaching math beyond second grade, I no longer feel paralyzed by it. One of my friends managed to conquer math in high school with the help of a dedicated teacher who voluntarily tutored her twice a week before school.

We all know those tough love teachers who recognize our potential and push us so hard that we often question whether they even like us. Let’s be honest, we have a love/hate relationship with them too.

In my case, it was a couple of high school English teachers. I’m convinced they went through a dozen red pens because they made countless marks on my papers, making it difficult to decipher my own writing. The constant rewrites, constructive criticism, and pointers sometimes felt like a stab in the heart. However, this challenging approach motivated me to work even harder, as I was determined to prove myself as a good writer. Little did I know, they saw my potential all along.

Their relentless efforts and tough love paid off. I eventually became the co-editor of my high school newspaper and had a poem published in a national high school anthology. These teachers saw something in me and pushed me to become better. Even after all these years, I still enjoy writing and continue to pursue it. A simple thank you will never suffice to express my gratitude towards these two teachers and all the educators who spot potential in their students and inspire them to be the best versions of themselves.

Classrooms are filled with a diverse group of learners, hailing from various cultures and family backgrounds, each with their own unique stories. Getting to know these students can be an enjoyable, yet challenging and at times, heartbreaking experience. During my early years in elementary school, I faced difficulties due to my mother’s illness and subsequent loss. However, my teachers stepped in, providing support and guidance. They were patient, nurturing, and observant, always attuned to my emotional state and offering encouragement. These teachers not only taught me the fundamental subjects of reading, writing, and math, but they also played a crucial role in mending my broken heart.

In classrooms across the nation, many teachers are dedicated to healing emotional wounds, calming students’ anger, and creating a stable and secure environment for all. Your lessons extend beyond the standard curriculum, encompassing values such as compassion, respect, and essential life skills. Regardless of the challenges students face, whether academic or personal, your primary focus is on helping each child overcome obstacles and achieve success. I am grateful that you take the time to understand the reasons behind a student’s reluctance to read or slower response during oral discussions, rather than dismissing them as lazy or inattentive. Your unwavering commitment to going above and beyond makes you a true superhero in real life.

We acknowledge and appreciate your efforts! Some might argue that it’s just part of your job, but many of us understand the truth. You dedicate countless hours of your personal time, money, and energy to go above and beyond for your students. Attending numerous meetings, responding to thousands of emails, and even receiving texts and calls from parents after hours are just a few examples of your commitment. Teacher Appreciation Week hardly seems sufficient to acknowledge your contributions. Although we may not say it enough, please know that we are grateful for you every single day!

As someone who has lived a considerable amount of time (29 years and counting), I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the individuals who have made a significant impact on my life and the lives of those around me. Apart from family, it is the teachers who have left the most profound impressions.

Teachers, if you need a reminder today, please know that you truly shape lives both within and beyond the classroom, leaving a lasting impact for the rest of our lives.

THANK YOU!


Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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