Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Even on the Most Hectic Days, Being a Teacher Is Amazing

February 13, 2018 2 min read

By Lauren Danner

It was a typical Thursday in the life of a high school teacher as the end of the marking period was quickly approaching. As soon as I finished teaching my classes, I began furiously correcting tests to make sure that my students would receive timely detailed feedback and the grades would be entered in time. In addition to the piles of uncorrected papers on my desk, my colleague and I were meeting to plan our next unit, a completely new series of lessons, and we needed to come up with something phenomenal. No pressure.

By the beginning of the afternoon, I needed a break. And coffee. I was expecting a phone call, so I quickly ran down the hallway, refilled my coffee cup, and ran back to my classroom. One of my former students, Carissa, had emailed me the day before. She was working on a project for one of her college courses and wanted to ask me a few questions about my former job as a scientist to use for a paper. We had set up a FaceTime call for 1 p.m. and precisely on time, my phone rang.

Carissa told me that she had not been completely honest about why she was calling me. She did not have a paper to write and did not need to ask me any questions. Instead, she wanted to see my honest reaction as she read a letter aloud that she had written to me.

I started to sweat.

Then Carissa began reading. When her first two words were “Thank you,” I began to smile. She described herself as a small, shy, completely and hopelessly lost high school freshman who had believed that her options in life were limited to what girls “typically” do, to the careers that Barbie does. After taking my class, Carissa told me that her entire perspective had changed. She thanked me for not only teaching her about polymers and the carbon cycle, but for teaching her that she could be enthusiastic about her curiosity and desire to learn. She thanked me for helping her realize that she loved science, asking questions and searching for the answers. I felt a lump forming in my throat as she described how she learned that it was okay to be herself, a nerdy science enthusiast, and that there would be plenty of people in the world who would like her and want to be friends with her for who she is.

As she neared the end of her letter, Carissa stated that without me, she would not be where she was today, she would not be at RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), and she would not be working hard to achieve her big, bold dream of someday becoming a distinguished neuroscientist. I wiped away the tears and pulled it together as best as I could as I thanked her profusely for reaching out to me and sharing such beautiful and heartfelt words.

I know the conversation I had with Carissa by heart because I asked her to send me the letter she had read to me, and I immediately laminated it and placed it on my classroom wall directly behind my desk. The letter hangs beside pictures, thank you notes and silly science jokes, all written by former students. I love to use that wall as a reminder, especially on those hectic days, of why I became a teacher in the first place, how rewarding my job truly is, and why I absolutely love teaching.

Lauren Danner is the 2017 Connecticut State Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). She teaches Science at North Branford High School in North Branford, Connecticut.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Teacher-Leader Voices 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.

Events

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.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion What Your Students Will Remember About You
The best teachers care about students unconditionally but, at the same time, ask them to do things they can’t yet do.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Teaching Profession High Risk for COVID-19 and Forced Back to Class: One Teacher's Story
One theater teacher in Austin has a serious heart condition and cancer, but was denied the ability to work remotely. Here is her story.
9 min read
Austin High School musical theater teacher and instructional coach Annie Dragoo has three underlying health conditions noted by the CDC as being high-risk for coronavirus complications, but was denied a waiver to continue working from home in 2021.
Austin High School musical theater teacher and instructional coach Annie Dragoo has three underlying health conditions noted by the CDC as being high-risk for coronavirus complications, but was denied a waiver to continue working from home in 2021.
Julia Robinson for Education Week
Teaching Profession Photos What Education Looked Like in 2020
A visual recap of K-12 education in 2020 across the United States.
1 min read
On Sept. 24, 2020, distance learners are seen on a laptop held by teacher Kristen Giuliano who assists student Jane Wood, 11, in a seventh-grade social studies class at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn. Many schools around the state have closed temporarily during the school year because of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19. Within the first week of November 2020, nearly 700 students and more than 300 school staff around Connecticut tested positive, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Teacher Kristen Giuliano assists Jane Wood, 11, during a 7th grade social studies class in September at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn., while other students join the class remotely from home.
Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP
Teaching Profession Teachers Are Already Getting COVID-19 Vaccines
Some counties in Indiana began vaccinating teachers this week, ahead of schedule.
4 min read
Valerie Kelly, a 5th grade teacher in Vincennes, Ind., receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 28, 2020.
Valerie Kelly, a 5th grade teacher in Vincennes, Ind., receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 28.
Courtesy of Valerie Kelly