Teacher Appreciation Week. Before last year, I never knew this week existed. So here I am. Now a teacher, dealing with the karmic backlash of my actions to my own teachers. I mean, I have students who have the audacity to stay in my classroom well after school to do homework, ask for advice or seek out a safe place before their parents come pick them up while I finish up my own work. The indignity! How dare they want to spend time with me when they could be out galavanting the world or being teenagers!
I kid, naturally.
It’s funny really that my actions as a student are now coming back to me as a teacher. It’s even immortalized in a verb I created: Viscardoed. If you need to look it up here is the definition:
- Viscardoed (Viz-CAR-doed) v. – The past tense of the process of students staying in your classroom well after the school day has ended.
Until this day, I never told my teachers how much I appreciated everything they did for me. From my first- and second-grade teacher Mrs. Hopper who let me leave her class to go to another teacher’s class to explore science, to my middle-school music teacher Mr. Gage who reminded me that hard work can result in great things, to my high school science teachers, Mrs. Viscardo and Ms. Stewart, who put up with my lack of effort because they had a feeling that once I figured it out, I would be just fine. At least, I think that’s why they put up with it. Who knows. It was nearly 15 years ago.
That’s the thing. I’m pretty sure all of my teachers have contributed to how I teach now. I cannot recall a teacher who was a domineering personality. Most of my high school teachers remained calm, even when things got out of hand. They encouraged me and my friends to exceed our limits. They allowed us to grow as individuals, forcing us to explore and experience failure and success. What’s weirder to me is that I don’t remember a lot about chemistry or government. I know that a combustion formula has to finish with CO2 + H2O and that schools have the right to limit the student freedom of the press. I don’t remember what experiments I did in Biology other than dissecting a baby pig to explore anatomy.
Instead, I remember the days staying in Mrs. Viscardo’s room until 4 p.m., doing homework, playing darts (I’m sure the holes are still in the wall. Great job, Frankie), or really just hanging out because we didn’t have anywhere else to go after school. I guess, better at school than out being hooligans. I remember Mr. Englert’s day-long AP Government boot camp and that the country of Chad looked like a guy’s face, or the two-day boot camp preparing for the AP Biology test with Ms. Stewart at Round Table Pizza and grading her papers, which served as a de facto study guide for the AP Biology test.
I remember their kindness. I remember their efforts to make us reach maximum potential. I remember those details and not the things I can Google.
I loved and still love my teachers. A lot of them influenced me in many ways that I have only started to explain. I always knew teaching was a thankless job, one where my performance as a student would validate their existence in this world. That the best form of appreciation is to take whatever knowledge they passed on to you and become great with it. Hopefully, I’ve done that for them. It’s the least I can do, along with this post.
One day, I hope to make an impact like they did on me. It’s why I opted to become a teacher a little more than a year ago.
So consider this my tribute to all of my teachers. Without them, I’m not where I am, trying to pass on the same care, passion, and knowledge they passed on to me.