Education Opinion

Thank You Students, I’m Better Because of You

By Starr Sackstein — June 13, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

As the year winds down and the natural practice of reflection begins, it’s important to really take the time to thank those around us who have challenged us to grow.

It’s easy to thank colleagues and family, but too often we forget to thank the youngsters who put their faith and trust in us to give them what they need to learn.

Since learning is a give and take, students aren’t the only ones who gain from the classroom experience. Teachers also learn valuable live and academic lessons from their children when they take the time to notice and stay open to truly hearing the wisdom.

Full transparency here: I don’t know everything and sometimes students know more than I do in different areas.

Rather than feel threatened that I don’t know or afraid to give up control, I take the opportunity to watch, listen, and ask questions when I see something I want to know more about, much in the same way I’d hope students would ask me.

Learning is a collaborative activity when it is happening at its best. We work together using each other’s strengths to build our own challenges, developing our thinking and problem solving skills.

So the relationship we develop with our students at every age is one that is to be respected, nurtured and admired. True inspiration comes when we let our guards down and let our children in.

Over the years, I have learned more about technology (Apple software in particular like iMovie and Garage Band) by watching my students than anyone else. Kids tinker in a way that adults forget after some time and it’s important for us to reconnect with the curiosity in ourselves.

Teaching has always kept me connected to my curiosity. It has challenged me to acknowledge my short-comings and provided me countless outlets for exploring new adventures and I have so much gratitude for every child who has played a role in that experience.

Feeding off of each other’s passion and energy for different ideas and concepts keeps me reconsidering what I think I know. It offers depth and perspective that live in my blind spots. Reading and re-reading texts with students allows me the chance to see author’s words through different students’ eyes, thereby providing a richer understanding of the words to each of them in their own contexts. This is invaluable to me as a teacher.

Student learning and inspiration is by far the biggest reason I’ve returned to teaching each year. Every time I say goodbye to another group of kids, I feel saddened by the loss, but invigorated by their possibilities. Always eager to hear later how things are going, I continue to make myself available despite not seeing them everyday. Technology is great for keeping relationships current.

So take the time to reflect on your year. If you can write a hand written note to your students; they’ll appreciate it. If you can’t write a personalized hand written note, consider a class email and don’t forget to say thank you when you see them for the last time at the very least.

How do you show your gratitude to your students for what they have taught you at the end of a school year? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP