Love Letters to Teachers

At the end of his junior year, my son declared that thank-you writing was dead.

“Mom, no one else writes teachers thank-you notes anymore. Not in high school anyway. I don’t think teachers even care.”

His resolute declaration that gratitude, in its formal form, was a thing of the past caught me completely off guard. What kind of son was I raising? One who didn’t see the value in recognizing the support of his teachers? This was not happening on my watch!

I launched into my rebuttal insisting that high school was no different from kindergarten. Showing gratitude still mattered, even in 11th grade. I argued that teachers do appreciate a note of thanks from the students they teach.

Eventually my son gave in and agreed to write seven end-of-the-year notes to his teachers which he hand delivered during the last week of school.

Writing thank-you notes remain important and relevant. There are the typical thank-yous we send after birthdays, holidays and special occasions, but I contend that the most important thank-yous to write are the ones we give to our teachers and coaches; the ones who spend hours each week growing our children.

My kids were exceptionally privileged by the support they received from their teachers. Talented professionals ignited their love for reading, stretched their imaginations, prepared them for college, taught them how to play together on a field, stage and playground; essentially held a significant role in developing two pretty awesome humans. They are owed much gratitude and credit! 

As a teacher, each year I receive fewer and fewer notes from the students I teach. It isn’t a complaint, just an observation. Families are busy, students are overwhelmed, and there has been a cultural shift in attitudes toward teachers. 

Nonetheless, notes and thank you cards do happen, and when one arrives on my desk or is shyly handed to me, I cherish it with such sincerity. The effort, words and thoughtfulness from my students is exceptionally meaningful.  I know this to be true because I have never thrown a single student card or letter away. There is a file in my cabinet titled, Student Notes, and it is bulging with scraps of notebook paper, elaborate cards, and construction paper folded in half, each piece a gift, a reminder that teaching is impactful and meaningful work.

So imagine my delight when one of my fellow colleagues at school recently texted me this image of a card she found when cleaning out her files this week.

 It was written by my son 12 years ago.

I guess I’m not the only teacher who holds on to these little “love letters” from students.

9 thoughts on “Love Letters to Teachers

  1. I TOTALLY agree with you. I have 14 years of thank you or other notes or letters from past parents and teachers. They mean the most to me. Just the other day I was looking for something in my bedside drawer ( it is kind of a mess) and ended up pulling out some end of the year cards I got from parents and It made my day reading them. It made my heart happy. They are always perfect for those “hard to be a teacher “ day.
    I’m so glad your son wrote those notes. Good job mama!

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  2. This is so true. It’s nice to read, “Thanks for being a great teacher.” But when kids–like Anders–recall the memories that stand out, it’s even better.

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  3. I have a file of student thank you notes that I cherish. I live that Patty kept this note from Anders & sent it to you. You raised a terrific son & you are an inspiration as a teacher!

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  4. I save all of the cherished notes from students, too, and I never get tired of reading them when I stumble upon the stash. I’m also with you on the insistence of having my children (now teens) handwrite thank you notes. It will never go out of style as far as I’m concerned.

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  5. I also have a similar stash. I teach 6th graders, and one of my favorite things to do is to have them write notes to one of their elementary teachers. I make sure they are delivered, and teachers say they are always touched by them. Thank you notes are always precious gifts.

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  6. Such a beautiful story. I love the honest dialogue you start with and then the inner feeling “Not on my watch…” I was not expecting the twist at the end with the teacher sharing a note with you from your 12-yr old son. Showing gratitute and holding on to it are both important. Thanks for sharing!

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