The teachers I took for granted

Lily started school exactly 20 years after my first day at secondary school.

It astounds me. Not just at how quickly those years seem to have passed, the path my life has taken, the things that have changed and those that stay the same, but at how fresh my memories are.

And, in particular, how much I took my teachers for granted.

Dropping Lily off at school fills me with a nostalgia for my own school days. With little effort, I can tell you the name of nearly every teacher I had from Reception to Upper Sixth. And now I find that I look back at my teachers with a newfound understanding and a greater respect than I ever gave them credit for when I was young(er).

That's not to say that I didn't respect or appreciate my teachers when I was a child or teen. It's just that having worked in a school, and now as a parent, I can see the effort and concentration necessary to be a really outstanding teacher and I therefore count myself as lucky to have had so many.

It's hard enough being a teenager and I struggled with additional troubles at home, I struggled to fit in, I overcompensated for a lack of confidence with a false bravado and attitude that failed to win me the admiration I craved from others.

And yet, from the very first day when I was met by my Form 1 tutor, I always felt like the teachers saw the real me.

Just writing this post has filled me with an overwhelming urge to go back and thank every single one.

The Chemistry teacher who ignited an interest I never realised was there.

The English and Drama teacher who could make eye contact with me over a crowded assembly and know that I was struggling, that I needed a hug - and was amazing enough to give me that hug. She saw the part of me that wanted to be someone else and let me act when I would never have considered it beforehand because the stage was the expertise of my sister, not me.

The Music teacher who kept encouraging me to come to choir, insisting that I wasn't tone death.

The History teacher who had such passion for the subject it lives on in me today.

The French teacher who actually made lessons fun. Genuinely fun and not just because of the carambar sweets she would sometimes hand out as a reward.

My boarding housemistress and sports teacher with the biggest heart - who taught me to put my best face on and face the world even if my inside feels like it is crumbling.

The PE teacher who sat me on their knee and held me when I had my first panic attack.

The IT teacher who let me just sit at a computer and 'design' posters and newspapers.

The Art teacher I only had for one year who taught me that I could be creative without painting landscapes.

Each of these amazing, inspiring people had their own lives, their own problems and their own families but they planned their lessons, ran extra-curricular clubs and dealt with hoards of hormonal teenagers. They went home at the end of each day with their work never quite finished, their children to clothe, feed and care for. Their lives and hobbies to follow whenever they got the chance.

And yet they had room in their day for me. For me, for my class mates. Our dramas and our problems.

That is what I took for granted without ever knowing what it was they were doing. They were outstanding and yet I thought that it was normal, that all teachers were this way.

I hope that I wasn't just extraordinarily lucky to have such wonderful teachers for my school years. I look for similar qualities in others that I meet, that I work with or that teach my kids. I want Lily and Oliver to be inspired in the same way I have been.

And in return, I promise never to take teachers for granted again.
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