Two little words with a big meaning: thank you.
They don’t take much time to say, but the most heartfelt of “thank yous” can stay with you for years, perhaps forever.
With only about one and a half years of teaching experience behind me, I have already felt on several occasions that teaching can be a thankless job. I have put a lot of work in throughout the last academic year, and into all my shorter jobs previous to this, but, other than receiving a pay-cheque at the end of the month, I haven’t truly felt like my hard work has been returned.
Until today, I hadn’t felt the true reward that teaching can bring when a student says “thank you”.
It was the final lesson of the year with a class of 13-14 year olds, and I knew it was going to be a “Good bye” that we would all really mean, rather than students running out of the class desperate to leave, not caring or even thinking that I wouldn’t be coming back next year, and me breathing a sigh of relief, glad to see the back of them. I had just joined the class with my colleague, who also taught this group, when they presented us both with a present – a photo of us with the class – and following this, an entire bag of presents – a Spanish flag they had signed and written messages on, a personalised handmade badge, sweets, a lollipop, and some (hilarious) Spanish-themed shutter sunglasses. Of course, they didn’t have to give us anything, and even just one of these presents would have been amazing, but with all of them put together, their generosity was overwhelming.
What was special to me is that I have rarely felt that I have made a difference to a student’s life. Of course, as a teacher, you know that you are helping your students in some way, but your work often goes unappreciated and has left me feeling downhearted, particularly when you face group after group of unappreciative classes. But this afternoon showed me that if you can touch the life of just a few of your students in a positive way, then the job is absolutely worthwhile.
These students’ generous “thank you” meant a lot to me, and aside from the presents, a simple verbal “thank you” is often enough to make someone feel good and feel rewarded. Saying “thank you” and really meaning it can touch somebody deeply, lift their spirits, and make them feel appreciated. So, if there’s somebody you want to thank, whether you say it, write it, show it with a gift, or in any other way – if you really mean it, the two simple words speak for themselves, and they speak volumes.
“You [have] a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say “thank you”?” – William A. Ward