Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

How to Thank Your Teacher

Thank Your Teacher

As the school year comes to a close take the time to thank your teacher.

As a teacher, a large part of my job these days is to ensure that my students get what they need in order to get a feeling of success, accomplishment and pride. Whether it’s giving extensions and tutorials, putting together study guides or making a few strategic phone calls home, those of us working behind the desk are putting in some long hours. We have to keep our eye on the prize, every bit as much as our students.

And sometimes, dare I say, even more.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a rant or an article lamenting the trials and tribulations of being a teacher. I love my job and feel really lucky to have the perks and privileges it affords me.

My days (and many evenings) are full of meaningful interactions with kids who are in the process of becoming who they will be. I also have access to all the sticky notes and paperclips I could ever want. But, as with ANY job, a well-timed high-five and a heartfelt thank-you go a long way in keeping me motivated.

So, on behalf of my teaching brethren, I do want to offer a few tips to those who may be wondering how best to show their appreciation and support as the school year comes to an end.

To students and parents, I can honestly say that my most treasured souvenirs from over a decade of teaching are the sincere notes and letters I have received thanking me for my help; some even coming years after the fact. I used to teach Grade 6 and recently got a message from a former student letting me know that she has decided to pursue a specific field of study in university based partly on her experience in my class 7 years ago.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that just about every teacher has a place where they keep notes like this as artefacts of their impact and validation of their influence. These displays of gratitude are particularly touching for new teachers who spend so much of their first few years feeling overwhelmed and underqualified, but I can assure you that it never gets old.

Clearly, not everyone feels comfortable or confident putting thoughts and emotions into words, but there are other ways of giving thanks and they don’t have to involve staying up until midnight making a batch of home-made fudge or spending money on a gift.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I would suggest that a well-prepared and engaged student is worth the weight of their bookbag in gold. If actions speak louder than words, coming to class on-time and producing work full of effort and creativity is the academic equivalent of a sonic boom. Pay attention, ask thoughtful questions, participate in group discussions and do the very best that you can. As corny and simplistic as it sounds, this truly is thanks enough.

Of course, we appreciate any gesture and cherish the little notes and packages that start to magically appear on our desks at this time of year. I’ve certainly never let a Tim Horton’s gift card go to waste! But please believe me when I say that this is a case where it truly is the thought that counts. So as June creeps closer and closer, I encourage you to think about the best way to tell your teachers that they are more than just a collection of coffee mugs and cardigan sweaters.

However you choose to do it, your thoughtfulness will be much appreciated because that’s how gratitude works. It’s contagious!

Katie Marti
Author: Katie Marti
Katie Marti has been a teacher for 10 years and is currently teaching high school french in Vancouver.
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