Happy Summer Time to all you teachers out there! I love teachers! More than a handful of them made a significant difference in my life. The dedicated, creative, caring ones made me want to become a teacher, too. Then the administrators who were teacher advocates made me want to become an administrator who supported her staff and students and made their school days happier, more successful, memorable times. Teaching is a profession with perks that keep on perking – forever! Dedicated teacher/educators give from the heart. They care about their students and their students’ families. They care about their colleagues. They care about the profession. Dedicated teachers are educators who never really retire; they just teach from a different platform, in a different venue, on a different stage, to a different audience. But, they can’t help themselves. They teach wherever they are.
Like millions of educators around the world destined always to teach, I discovered that the perks of teaching never stop. No, the perks are not “Summers off.” No, they do not include getting rich quick… at least not monetarily rich. But richness comes in many forms. The perks for educators come in the form of feedback – from students, from family members, from colleagues, from community, from life. The perks are in the lifetime of memories, the feeling of making a difference in the lives of others, the blessing of hearing now and then that you did, in fact, matter in the life of one of your students… or a parent … or a colleague.
I retired officially from public school education in 1999. One of my favorite “jobs” during my varied and interesting career was as a teacher/principal in the central valley of California. Last week one of my former colleagues (a teacher at the school where I served nine years as principal) came to visit me here in Montana. What a joy! What a perk!!
Then, as if the week was not already special enough, out of the blue came a text message from the parent of a kindergarten student that I had in the 1970s! She found me on Facebook. It’s one of the perks of allowing your postings to go “public” instead of limiting the viewings to only those identified as “friends.” This former room mother from the San Francisco Bay Area wrote to compliment me on my recent weight-loss and ask me how I did it. We did the finger-tip chat for a while and then she asked if we might talk on our cell phones. “There’s something wonderful about hearing each others voices,” she commented. I agreed and we chatted on the phone – catching up on each others lives – for almost an hour. It was the best perk imaginable!
Now, you’re probably thinking that during that conversation I heard stories about things she remembered about me as a teacher, right? That would be the usual expectation. Nope! Not really… not as much as, “Do you still fry pork chops with green bell peppers using a splatter guard?” That was my trade-mark meal back in those days! And yes, I do still have that splatter guard 40+ years later. It saves hours of stove top cleanup! She said she bought one after coming to my house for dinner – and still uses hers, too. Pork chops with green peppers is her husband’s favorite meal! Do I remember inviting her and her family to dinner? No! But she does! And “little” gestures like that are some of the things that help me live on in the lives of the students I have taught. Who would’a thunk it?? See, you never know! You just never how know what you say and do will live on in others. When a parent, student or colleague takes the time to find you years later – and tells you about your impact – that’s worth more than a million bucks!Some of my former students from those days in the classroom back in the 70s are my Facebook friends and my on-line Scrabble partners! I love keeping in touch!
Feedback – – – in all kinds of forms – – – it’s the “Teacher Perks” we educators live for!
Take time to contact a teacher who was memorable in your life. Give a teacher a perk. And while you’re at it, take time this Father’s Day weekend to give a “Parent Perk” to your dad (if you are fortunate enough to have him still with you) or your son or son-in-law, or to some other “Dad” figure in your life. Tell him what makes him memorable. It might be the way he fries pork chops! And if he doesn’t have a splatter guard; that’ll make a wonderful gift! Order one today!!
P.S. No, this is not a paid advertisement; just one of the perks from a retired educator bent on being a life-long teacher!