Yesterday, Indian educators everywhere celebrated ‘Teacher’s Day’ and as always, I began my morning by typing out WhatsApp messages to my own teachers – from high school, university and even to some who hold no educational qualifications and yet have taught me valuable lessons for life. Halfway through my fourth WhatsApp message I decided to write an open letter instead and dedicate it to the wonderful people who I have been privileged to call ‘My Teacher’s’.
There are so many things I wish I would have said to you while I occupied a desk in your classroom, once I graduated, or anytime that I was a part of your life. You deserve to know how I felt every single day, but I didn’t always say it, not because I didn’t care but because I thought you already knew. But today, let me tell you exactly how I feel.
To me, you were everything rolled into one: teacher, parent, friend, and a kick in the pants when needed. I asked you to check my homework, wipe my tears, keep my secrets, and motivate me on my worst days, and you never failed to do all of that and more.
To the chubby kid who sat by the window, you were that kind voice when someone made fun or cracked a harsh joke, to the kid who struggled through high-school math, you were the gentleman with so much patience, to the reluctant back-bencher, you were the coach, pushing me forward till I found a microphone and then my voice. I can’t begin to thank you for playing all those roles because it has helped shape me into the person I am today. You will never know how much it means to me that you still take the time, even years after I have been out of your class, to check in or to celebrate my successes with me. Your impact on me certainly didn’t end when I left your class.
I will forever admire how you chose a profession that put countless others before yourself, and even with that, you always made me feel like I was the most important one. Truth be told, all your students felt that way. I will forever admire your spirit and your love of life. I also admire your integrity; you didn’t tell me how to have character; you showed me. I watched you do right even if it was hard. I watched you choose kindness when most others would have turned to anger, and I watched you work as hard as you could every day no matter how exhausted you were.
You, my teacher, will always be with me. I think of you when I am reminded of a lesson you taught me. I think of you when I make a decision in my own classroom and find myself wondering what you would have done had you been in my place, I promise you – your legacy lives on in me.
Thank you for every hug, lesson, smile, piece of advice, and vote of encouragement. You were never “just a teacher.” In fact, most days you were my favorite part about school. You’ve cemented a place in my heart that can never be replaced. I should have told you all of this every day, but I just assumed you knew.
“Nothing is original” they say, and everyone has learnt from someone. How I deal with children today, is a combination of the methods and approaches I have experienced myself, with you. What came from whom almost becomes indistinguishable….but it is very important to me to acknowledge and pay tribute to your role in my development as a persona and as a teacher too.
Today, I think of myself as a effective teacher but I am fully aware that I am confident of this only because I stand on the shoulders of giants, giants like you.