being a teacher, thank

Have You Told Them Thanks Yet?

Image from here 

Today with 15 minutes left before the end of the day, as my students were packing their things, writing in their assignment notebook, I cleared my throat and told them I would like to make an announcement.  With 23 sets of eyes on me, all waiting for something cool to come out of my mouth, I stammered, “I would like to tell you something…”  Silence.  I kept going, “Every day, I tell my husband when he asks about my day about you.  Every day I tell my husband how I have the nicest kids, the kids that make me so proud.  I share the funny stories, the things you accomplish and the community we share.  Every day I tell him that.  But I don’t tell you and I should.  So thank you for being that class that I can tell people about.  Thank you for being that class where I can step out of the room for a moment and know that you continue to work without me there.  For helping each other, for staying engaged and focused and for thinking school is not boring.”    And then I stopped because I got emotional as pregnant women tend to do.  And the kids smiled and I told them it was time to go and so they did.

Have you taken the time to tell your students how they make you feel?

family, thank

He Was Right There – Words to My Father

My father came into my life on my 7th birthday.  One moment there was no one there and the next I found my mother sitting on a strange man’s lap as if he had always been there.  I didn’t know he was my father then and in fact it took me many years of confusion, displaced anger, and soul searching before I realized that the father I had always been searching for was right in front of me.

My father did not have me, he chose me instead.  He chose to be a part of my mother’s life and in that he also chose to be a father to her three children.  And we did not make it easy for him.  We did not want a father, already had enough in the one we dealt with on forced vacations and long weekend.  Growing up as the product of split parents, I had enough self-pity to stay in misery for years.  And yet my father stood by me.  He showed me how to play the guitar, he showed me how to use the computer, he stood by me when my other father dealt my already fragile ego another blow.  And he did not ask for anything in return.  He just waited and waited until one day I realized he had been there all along.

So when my soulmate asked me to marry him, I knew I had to make a choice.  Did the man who was my biological father give me away or the man who had stood by me all of these years, wiping away my tears, lifting me up when I needed it, get to do it?  When I walked down the stairs with my father by my side, my biological father watching from the chairs, I knew that this was what the world had wanted.  Someone out there knew that this little girl with so much anger and so many tears needed someone to show her what it meant to be a real father.  What it meant to give your all and not ask for anything in return.  He showed me that it is okay to show your emotions, and it is ok to be  angry as long as you have a way to work it out.  He showed me what it means to love and live and passionately believe in things.  He showed me what real fathers do and told me that I had the right one when I met Brandon.  And he was right, when I look at how Brandon is with Thea, I see my father and how he was with me; there, present, and in the moment.  We are truly our father’s daughters, thanks dad.

being a teacher, parents, thank

Have You Thanked a Parent Lately?

This week as I bask in the adoration that is teacher appreciation week at my school, I am often reminded of just how much people care and what an incredible feeling that is.  However, I am also reminded of how I am not alone in this adventure of teaching, how my decisions and ideas only can go so far without the support of parents.  So I think it is time we introduce parent appreciation into our schools.

I appreciate the parents of my students in oh so many ways.  They are the first to tell when their child loved a lesson we have done and also the first to tell me ever so gently that perhaps that lesson just didn’t make much sense.  For your feedback and honesty; thank you.

I appreciate the parents that take all of the time.  We know that parenting is a full-time job, even when your child is in school, so thank you to those that drop off the forgotten gym shoes, permission slips, or lunches. Thank you to those that plan and prepare the extra events.  Thank you to those that donate time, energy, supplies to our ever-involving ideas.  And thank you to those that support, whether in person or through thoughts.  I feel the involvement and I do not take it for granted.

I appreciate those parents that dare to speak up.  That tell me when something is going amiss or when an injustice has happened.  Thank you to those that push me to become better, more, deeper and aren’t just alright with stale teaching.  Thank you also to those that believe that we can always improve and trust me to come up with new ways to reach their child, whether it is in familiar territory or not.

So truly, this is not about the what happens in the classroom, but what happens in the community we build up around these incredible students.  I am not alone in this nor do I ever want to be.  The parents are the ones that help a school year become an incredible one.  The parents are the ones that help me excel.  Thank you for placing your faith in me as an educator and caretaker of your child.  Thank you for believing that I am a good fit for your child and that my abilities will help your child achieve greatness. Thank you for trusting me.   Without you this would not be the incredible journey it is.

being a teacher, being me, inspiration, listen, students, thank

Those Things We Carry

The shuffled movement, the slight look possibly from the left, a small gesture to be noticed. “Ummm, Mrs. Ripp can I have lunch with you?”. Oh shoot, there goes that extra prep, but yes, absolutely yes, let’s have lunch. Over food the words come tumbling like a bottle with it’s cork pulled. Didn’t even have to ask a question, they just spill out and out, away from this student, this trusting student that needs someone to carry the weight of the world with them. It is not new, not shocking, but every day life, every day fears, every day needs of wanting bigger, better, more. And yet here, it means the world.

We carry those words.

Another morning, a moment, a need for a hug and then a drawing shown. “Do you think I can make it, Mrs. Ripp?.” “Of course, you can, just dream and work toward it,” is what I say but what I think tells more. Work hard, little child, don’t believe those people who will try to steal your dream. Don’t believe those people that tell you you are not smart, that you will not amount to anything. Don’t listen when they make you angry, or when they make you cry. Dream, dream on, dream strong.

We carry those dreams.

At the end of the day, a mad rush, backpacks on, cubbies emptied, and one last “Thank you for coming.” I mean it too, thank you for being here, for sharing your day with me. For sticking with me when my voice got tired, or my explanation made no sense. For listening when I should have been quiet, for raising your hand patiently and waiting your turn even though you were really, really excited. Thank you for laughing, for thinking, for creating, and trying. Thank you for believing and caring, for trusting and loving, because that’s what it is; trust and love and hope and hard work, every single day.

They carry those teachers; us.