Sunday, October 18, 2020

Letter to a Stressed Teacher in 2020

Teacher Friend,

You're stressed.  I know you are.

I'm a principal, and it's easy for me to say, "Hang in there -- thanks for all you do!"  But I want you to know exactly what it is that I'm thankful for.

Last spring was a whirlwind.  I'm sorry that so many of you didn't really get to say good bye to your students.  You invested into their lives all year, and then the rug was ripped out from underneath you.  That hurts.

I'm sorry about the anxiety you experienced all summer, not knowing what your job would look like in the new year -- not knowing if all your students were ok.

Your school year may have started late; you may not have had all your students in your room.  You probably had to learn new ways of delivering instruction.  You had to learn new technology... and that technology didn't always work!  You had to rearrange your classroom!  And it's hard to teach with masks.  It's not easy to connect with students when you can barely see their faces, or in many cases, they're not even in your room.  You became a teacher because you want to build relationships with students, and it's never been so hard.  However your school year began, I know it wasn't normal... and it was ridiculously challenging.

You love being a teacher, but you are worried about your health.  You are worried about the health of your students.  You are worried about the health of your own families.

But you push on.

Thank you for taking time to prepare meaningful lessons... even when you feel yourself dragging.

Thank you you for providing encouragement and support to your colleagues when they're down.

Thank you for being kind to your students... and for realizing that may be the only kindness they experience all day.

Thank you for working to motivate your apathetic students.  Sometimes your efforts don't seem to make a difference. But you keep trying... because that's what teachers do.

Thank you for your willingness to learn new ideas from your colleagues.  I admire your commitment to being a better teacher tomorrow than you were today.

Thank you for trying to connect with students who don't seem reachable... because you realize you may be their only lifeline.

Thank you for making all those phone calls.

Thank you for your patience with the students who may be disruptive and annoying... because you know that those students still need you.

Thank you for working to ensure your students have a brighter future.

Thank you for being the kind of teacher that you would want your own kids to have.

I know you're tired, and you have a right to be.  I'm sorry that we just put another kid in your class... making it even harder to socially distance.  I'm sorry we just asked you to fill out another form.  In spite of the challenges, you maintain your passion for kids; you hold on to your commitment to making a difference.  I never take that for granted.

You're stressed... but you push on.

To me... that makes you awesome... and I appreciate you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Danny Steele


  1. Beautiful post! On behalf of every teacher in America, THANK YOU!!

  2. Absolutely perfect words for our amazing teachers!

  3. Yes! Well put...our teachers are rocking it!

  4. What a right on time word...thanks for sharing this letter that every teacher in the world needs to hear at such a time.

  5. What are you going to be thanking your teachers for when they are unable to raise their failure rate above 50%? What are you going to tell your teachers’ families when the stress of their job becomes so overwhelming that they quit the profession they cared about for so long because they can’t take the stresses of the job? What are you going to say to your teachers when they haven’t had a real break since December 2019, and keep having to work all weekend and every holiday to make sure that they are up to date with the lesson plans to teach a hybrid classroom that needs to have everything completely modified from every previous year? What are you going to tell your teachers that are burned out in October from working all summer to learn the new district technology? What are you doing for your teachers self care, considering that you are probably able to step away from your job and spend time on the things that matter to you, meanwhile they are not able to do that because lesson plans are due, things need to be graded, parents need to be contacted, students need to be tutored, more technology needs to be learned, they have to fill out reams of paperwork for SPED and 504 students that they have never seen? While it’s nice of you to give your appreciation and accolades, why don’t you do something that actually helps and take something off of your teachers’ insurmountable pile of tasks instead of adding to it? Maybe, if you actually cared, instead of writing a self aggrandizing open letter to teachers, you should work with your fellow principals and the district leadership to alleviate some of the work, concerns, and anxieties that are keeping your teachers up all night and stressing them out the most. Your letter is the equivalent of giving a person that has just lost their eyesight a get well soon card, it’s a nice sentiment, but essentially useless.

  6. Thanks, sir! That makes me feel better 😁🙏🏽