Running on Fumes

I have been running on fumes at work. Blame The Test. Thirty days to go. Not that I’m counting or anything.

Today I found an envelope in my mailbox that simply had my school’s name on it. It was from our interoffice mail system, but my name wasn’t on it.

When I opened it, I found a letter addressed to me from one of my former sixth graders. She told me she was a freshman in high school and that she was a freshman because of me and what I’d done for her.

My heart sang.

And suddenly, I wasn’t running on fumes any longer.

Teaching can be such a thankless profession. When a former student tracks me down and thanks me, it keeps me going for months.

And what still surprises me is that the students I’m afraid I didn’t do enough for? Those are often the ones who write me, years later.

Teaching, in America at least, is a profession that encourages self-doubt. But I reached this student. I mattered to her. I made a difference.

My closest coworker, when I told her about the letter, said, “You were nominated for GT teacher of the year! Of course you make a difference!”

“But that nomination came from my boss. This letter came from a student. It means more.”

I have thirty more days with my current batch of students. I have thirty more days to push them, to stretch them, to make them say “Oh! I get it!” I have thirty more days to make a difference.