Monday, March 7, 2011

Teacher Tissues

Every once in a while I am reminded of how the simplest of gestures can mean so much.

This morning I found an envelope addressed to me in my teacher mailbox at work. Attached to the envelope was a small package of decorated tissues with this note, “For winter’s residual tears, or new outbursts of spring joy!” I did not have to open the envelope to know who this little gift was from. I recognized the handwriting right away. The note inside was lovely also, but the gift of the tissues along with the brief caption would have been enough.

When you’re a teacher it is quite easy to let hours, if not days, go by without interacting with another adult. There are piles of papers to correct, grades to record, research to do, and lessons to plan. Of course I do take significant time most days to email parents, send notes to members of the Guidance Department, and touch base with administrators. I attend regular staff meetings and I also make a point to take time to talk to various secretaries and custodians in the morning when I first get to work, even if it’s only for a short time while making ourselves a quick cup of cocoa. I make a point to eat lunch in the teacher’s room whenever possible too. Yet, it’s easy to feel the isolation of the career. Despite my election and preference to work independently, it can be exhausting to interact with 100 teens a day without hearing from fellow adults that they too are experiencing what I am going through.

But today a fellow teacher took some time to let me know that there are people who care. There are others who know of how challenging a start to 2011 this has been for me, of how hard it is to forge ahead with positivity and strength, of how hard I work, of how hard I try.

If we’re lucky we find we have at least a few coworkers who see us beyond that position or role we have on the job. Over the years they take time to get to know us as parents, as children, as siblings, as spouses, as friends. These few wish us well and mean it. These few know us and they might even love us. These few mean so much.

A simple pack of tissues placed in a teacher’s mailbox was enough to remind me today of how nice it is to have people you work with who care. It's time that I return the favor and reach out to another who just might need a similar reminder.

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