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This teacher’s career suicide was saved by a thanks from a parent

Michelle M. Guilbeau
Michelle M. Guilbeau

I knew your daughter enjoyed and loved art; however, your words thanking me for encouraging your daughter in art class and expressing your desire that she had more time with me gave me the encouragement and hope I so desperately needed and longed for.

I know I already thanked you many times, but I wanted to thank you again for sending me an e-mail that I feel saved me from a career suicide. Dramatic? Maybe.

However, knowing as a little girl that I wanted to be a teacher and now well into my teaching career, the fact that I was considering a career change is pretty dramatic, I think.

You see, there are many positives to my job as an art teacher in an elementary school, but there are many more days in the past few years that I have asked myself why I am a teacher and wonder how much longer I can do this. My heart breaks and I am so discouraged when I am called vulgar names, get elbowed and have someone stand a couple inches from my face talking back to me. Yes….the words and actions come from children; kids of elementary age.

Administration is busy and has their own issues and problems to deal with so trying to handle discipline with the student body can become overwhelming. The task of inappropriate behavior in art class is for the most part left in my hands and frankly, I am exhausted. I do take a proactive approach and try contacting parents when a child is not acting what I consider to be “appropriate.” I am often told more times than not, “My child does not act like that at home” or “I know my child does that, but I just do not know what to do with him/her.”

I also have an expansive range of things to worry about and consider as a teacher: testing, Common Core Standards, differentiated instruction, evaluations, kids being hungry in class, kids not wearing socks in zero degree weather and the list goes on and on. I worry…I worry a lot because I went into the field of teaching hoping I could make a difference in a child’s life and sometimes I get so caught up in the other “things” of my job that I do not feel like my focus is on teaching anymore and that I am not making a difference.

However, your kind words gave me renewed hope, words can make a difference in someone’s life and I am here to attest to that. I am not alone in how I feel as a teacher; I know there are many, many more teachers who feel the same way as I do. Some simple words of thanks from a parent can completely change a teacher’s outlook and give a renewed energy and sense of hope so desperately needed by that teacher.

By the way, you told me to ask your daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up and you knew what she was going to say, I thank you for telling me to ask her. When I asked your daughter, she said, “I want to be an art teacher.”

I suspected she was going to say that, but hearing the words come out of her mouth brought the biggest smile to my face and joy in my heart. Thank you again for writing the words of thanks to me, for giving me hope, for renewing my faith in teaching, but most of all thank you for allowing me to teach and be a part of your precious daughter’s life. I am so grateful and fortunate to be called, “Teacher.”

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