As part of Math for America’s #MfAThankATeacher campaign, I spent a good chunk of time last weekend writing Thank You notes to MfA teachers. Having been buried in remote learning, I started writing them on a limb right after breakfast. I realized soon after I started that I couldn’t stop. By the time I finished the first one, I was reminded of someone else and that triggered a feeling of gratitude that I had to honor. And then the second note did the same. And on and on it went for an hour and a half. At that point, I had unexpectedly written a dozen or so paragraph-length notes to teachers that have touched my career in major ways that they probably never knew about.
Besides having warm, fuzzy feelings hold me down for the rest of the weekend, writing those notes brought to mind the staggering number of teachers that I’ve met through Math for America and the spiderweb-like threads that connect us. I thought of how ideas and projects move so fluidly between people in MfA and how those people bond and grow as a result. I am happily in debt to so many people in the community and it felt great to finally pay up.
I’m excited that MfA created and is promoting this teacher-thank-teacher campaign because, during these extraordinary times, it’s especially important that we teachers take time to appreciate one another. While I’m flattered anytime anyone gives me love because I’m a teacher, receiving the respect and appreciation from a fellow teacher — especially one that I admire — lands differently with me. It’s a no-strings-attached, we’re-literally-in-this-together compliment. Coming from another teacher, it’s totally unexpected and unsolicited. That may be the best part. Most of us feel that our teaching is horrible right now and that nothing is working. A personalized note of appreciation from a colleague is a pleasant surprise that can cut through our many layers of angst. And, these days, we teachers need as many pleasant surprises as we can get.