The moment we say goodbye to our mommies and daddies and nannies as we walk into our first day of classes, you are our now our guardian. From here on out you are the one holding our hands; the one to tell us what to do and what not to do; what to love and what to laugh at; what to learn and what to be curious about.
Your every “hello” and “goodbye” and “have a great weekend” are signs we are loved and cared for; even your scoldings are bittersweet ordeals, if met with candy, literally or figuratively, afterwards. You introduce chords and melodies into the orchestra of life; ones we have never heard of before.
Sometimes they sound so beautiful and harmonic, but other times they sound awful or, worse, don’t sound like much at all. Your ignorant dismissals make us feel insignificant. We are not machines that take your orders. We do not produce the same result every time. You sometimes forget that machines are not taught, they are programmed. We are not machines.
Still, you are the reason why some of us willingly wake up at 6am ten or so years into school. You are the reason why on cloudier days we can still find sunshine. Your hand reaches to help us out of ditches in our roads, and you are the guide and pacer in this marathon when we have no sense of direction or speed. You help us build the bridges to cross many rivers, you lend us your shoulders and backs to reach higher peaks.
You are also the reason some others of us forever shove our backpacks into cobwebbed corners. You are also sometimes the reason why the lightbulb dims and the melody turns monotone and sad. You become just as insignificant in our lives as we are to yours. You forget we have lives, we forget you do, too.
Indeed, you are also the one to push us into things as well as push us away from them. We recognize your love and passion for a subject and mimic the same excitement as our heart beats just as rapidly as yours. We are asked to remain curious and inspired with every thoughtful question you hand us. We are challenged to love challenges and to stand back up from falls.
But we also recognize your boredom and distaste. It is difficult for us to remain colorful in dullness. Each of your requests for uniformity and correctness erases a little bit of us. We become machines. Bored and boring machines. Nameless, faceless.
One day, we will have students of our own. You will have told us many things when we were your students, but you will have also told us many other things that we will only understand once we stand in your shoes. Some things, you will not have told us at all, left as a door for us only to discover what’s behind on our own.
When such a day comes that we have our own smaller hands to hold, it is our hope we understand what intentions you may or may not have had.
When such a day comes, we hope to have a hand to offer. We hope to have the same energy that we so delighted in; we hope to learn to love to teach others just as we learned to love to learn; we hope to sing the same beautiful songs and wave just as many “hellos” and “goodbyes”.
So, dear Teacher, please remember:
we will be you one day, so be the You you want us to be.