To our dear, amazing, untiring, loving, powerful teachers,
You are our heroes.
And I don't know how you do it.
I, mother of three, can barely handle my trio day-to-day. And yet you not only manage to watch several dozen students in your classroom Monday through Friday, but you also are able to impart knowledge, share life lessons and give tips on how to effectively zip their pants after going to the potty.
I don't know how you do it, and how you make it look so easy. And I know it is anything but easy.
You are a miracle worker. I can hardly get my one child to put his jacket on before school, but you magically get 22 kids to get coats, gloves and hats on in time to line up for recess. I don't know how you do it.
You are overworked and underpaid—and yet you still email me within moments of my message arriving in your inbox to assure my mama heart that things will be okay. I don't know how you do it.
You are hopeful, optimistic and brave, helping to mold our fledgling children into competent adults—and yet have to practice active school shooter drills while using euphemisms to tell the children what's going on. I can barely speak—or think—when I imagine the drills you have to practice. I don't know how you do it.
You pour what seems like boundless energy into your classroom every day. I get tired just thinking about your job—and yet you greet my child each morning with a smile on your face while I grumble my way through the drop off line. I had 13 kids over my house for a two-hour birthday party and I needed a full 48 hours to recover. I don't know how you do it.
You find tricks to teach my child his letters, or how to tie his shoes, or put an academic puzzle together for my child. They are challenges and lessons that have long evaded me—but you seem to know just the method to help my little one break through. I don't know how you do it.
You deal with heartaches small and large. You witness familys' biggest tragedies—and basic struggles—to feed, clothe, and care for children. You witness life and death through your classroom. You find these vulnerable kids and devote yourself to being their advocate and improving their lives. Your heart must break, but there's no time to wallow. You have work to do, and you do it with a sense of purpose that we find inspiring. I don't know how you do it.
You come up with the most creative ideas for teaching lessons. You are a one-person Pinterest project machine. You bring an enthusiasm to learning that I find inspiring. I once tried to do a Pinterest project with my kids but halfway through we all gave up and I ended up with fingers dyed with green food coloring—for a month. I don't know how you do it.
You face changing government mandates. First you're graded on test scores, then for year-over-year improvements, then for the latest academic fad to enter your classroom. You just want to give children the life-changing, child-led education you know they deserve, but the top-down goalposts keep moving. And yet you face your students with a smile and suppress any resentment you must feel. I don't know how you do it.
Your classroom is a ray of academic sunshine. Your bulletin boards are on point. Even though literally dozens of frenetic children move (okay, spin, hop, bounce, run, trip, push & shove) their way through your classroom each day, each time I visit it looks like a super-organized, color-coded temple to the gods of learning. Meanwhile my children are able to destroy my entire house in 3 minutes with a chocolate chip cookie, an Elmo Coloring book and a few Legos. I don't know how you do it.
You have that "teacher voice." You hear the din of little voices in your sleep. I once volunteered in your classroom for 30 minutes of story time and had a headache for hours. Your vocal control is impressive. And how on earth do you not get laryngitis every. single. day? I don't know how you do it.
You try to advocate for each and every child. You blow me away with your observations about my kid during our parent-teacher conference. You notice things in weeks that I've picked up over the course of years. And then you replicate this kind of care for every single child in your class. You are nimble and thoughtful. I don't know how you do it.
You get a summer off. A single season. In my book, you deserve a year. You get 10 weeks to rest, recover, plan and prepare for the next academic year.
And even though you know just how tough the job is, you show up in September fully committed to transforming the lives of a new set of children.
Your motivation is admirable. I don't know how you do it.
You are relentless. You are inspiring. You are shaping an empathetic, open-minded and diverse generation. You make our lives as parents so much better. And even though we worry about our kids when we're apart, our hearts smile knowing that you've got them—and how well.
I don't know how you do it. But I know I am so, so grateful that you do.
A version of this post was published May 7, 2019. It has been updated.