Do you think she’s having a fantastic time lecturing to the back of your heads as you text your buddies about tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead? (Okay fine; The Walking Dead airs on Sundays. Work with me here. Pretend I’m not your teacher.)
No, she’s having almost as much fun as you aren’t. She wants you to succeed. She wants you to “get it”, as impossible as that equation may be without sufficient information. She’s there to inspire your innate creativity to come out to play. The curriculum sometimes gets in the way of this, yes, but that’s not your teacher’s fault.
Pretend you are your teacher. You’ve stayed up late, sacrificing time with your family so you could coach volleyball before coming home to mark papers. You love your job, but you want to know that it’s worth your time. You want to see that somebody, somewhere, is better for the effort you’ve made. You want to see that somebody is building on the value you share.
Of course, the best way to show thanks is to internalize what you’ve learned and to act confidently with that knowledge by engineering a safe and economical solution to humanity’s most pressing challenge. Second best, but more meaningful emotionally, is to simply let your teacher know. By telling them. The smallest act of thoughtfulness goes a long way. Even if you write, “Hey, thanks for that extra study session during your lunch break,” or, “I’ve never felt so free to be me than I have while sharing my life’s aspirations in your drama class,” your teacher will be touched.
Many days, that’s all we need — to connect. You’ll find great pleasure in being the one to reach out and thank someone first, and know that years later, your teacher will find your note in an old dusty box of keepsakes, and know that it was all worth it.