Dear Madam *Mary,
I saw how you struggled with me. I saw how exhausted you were as you walked out of the building completely depleted at the end of the day. You used to wave me goodbye and let out a sigh of relief, even if it was just for a brief moment of peace.
It was okay to let it out; those were hard days.
I heard your words. I heard you telling the teachers in the break room about how I was going to get the best of you. I heard that from other teachers in the previous years saying all the same things, and I am sure you remember hearing all about it too. In some ways, it brought a bit of relief to know it was not just you, right?
I want you to know that I knew exactly how you felt. I do, I promise. I am not judging you or shaming you. It is the complete opposite.
I know you were trying. I saw it in your face; I saw it in your posture. I knew you were doing everything you knew how to do, but some days it just never felt like it was enough, right? Some days, I was just too much for you to handle and I could tell it was wearing you down. Believe me, I understood.
Take a breath. I want to tell you a few things today.
Teacher, I needed you.
I know I was difficult to handle, and I took everything you had. I know I pushed your buttons in all the right (perhaps wrong) ways that made you second-guess what you were doing. But I needed you. I needed you to keep pushing me. I needed you to set limits and help me understand them.
I know you did not know me. I know if you did, we would get along a lot better. But, I needed you to fight to get to know me. I could not tell you in my own words what I needed you to know, so I acted out instead.
I know you had other children in the class. I know they needed you too. But, I needed you to find my good qualities because those other children did not see them. My teachers in the previous year did not see them, and most days, if not all, I did not even see them myself.
I know I lost my temper a few times. I know I disrupted your class and what you had on your agenda for the day. But I needed you to believe in me. I needed you to believe that my actions were a cry for help, not an act against you. Please don’t take it personally. I needed you to believe that I wanted to fit in, but I just didn’t know how.
I know I made it difficult, but I needed you to see me. I needed you to see beyond that. You might be the only one that could have gotten to the real me. It needed time and patience. I needed you to give it your all to see me. And, I am so glad you did.
I know you got into teaching to make a difference, and with all honesty, you made a difference in my life. Since you reached me, really reached me, you changed my life. You made a difference that no test can measure.
Even though many times most children are constantly being told they are not “smart enough”, not “good enough”, not “calm enough”, just simple and plain, we would positively change the world if instead of telling them they are not enough, we could change the way we saw our children and change their inner language. And that’s what you did for me.
We may not always appreciate our teachers as often as we should, but I want to thank you teacher *Mary for the life lessons, for your patience, for the corrections, and for helping me become the person I am today.