Monday, May 27, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest May 27-31, 2013

A teacher gives so much, almost everything inside the brain and heart.  That is what I always believed, always did.  I arrived at school an hour and a half before the required time to make certain that the day’s preparation was just right.  I stayed two hours after school to review student work and make adjustments for the next day.  

Every day for years, this was my work ethic.

Then, one day I received an irate letter from a father who ripped me apart.  

He had found typos in an assignment I had copied from a professionally produced  book of black-line masters.  He did not appreciate the topic being pursued and wanted to adjust it to his superior understanding.  He thought his child needed more explanation and monitoring—by discussing each lesson taught and assignment given, after the rest of the class had been dismissed.  


The letter, written in small font, covered a full page.


My entire being sagged in defeat, taking my heart and brain with it.  I left after school, numb and confused.  Was there more I could have done?

Flashing forward-- I tightened up my checking-for-typos, adjusted my explanations of all assignments, and double checking everything.  It didn't change that father, but it changed me.  For better?  I didn't know.  


 MANY years later, I received a card from the parents of another student.  

While going through old videos, they discovered a video of their son’s reading and speech presentations recorded that same school year.  They expressed their thanks and appreciation for giving their son such a wonderful year, for teaching him.

They will never know how much this act of kindness meant to me.  I could tell them “Thanks!” but that would be inadequate.

I still have the letter and read it occasionally.  And I praise God for these parents who gave me more than they could ever know.

Chocolate Thank You: Chocolate Thank You - contact and credit for public use
Source: ChIandra4U

28 comments:

  1. One kind word can be so uplifting!

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    1. I have always told my students that one will always regret being mean, but will always remember how it felt to be kind.

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  2. It means to much to hear a heartfelt thanks. Of all the students I have taught , only a few parents have said a word or written a card. It makes me that much more mindful thank my son's teachers for their efforts. And to give them grace for their mistakes. That father who wrote you has some issues based on self- perception. I feel sorry for him, that performance is obviously where he gets or doesn't get his fulfillment. Not that his behavior was excusable, but his critical spirit is a sign of pain. That is how i have to think of my critics who are mean, not constructive.

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    1. I think you are correct. When one is not in control, then that person feels it necessary to become the one who is.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Zoanna doubled posted, so I deleted the 2nd one. I would never take out a comment (unless it was vile), esp. Zoanna's loving words.

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  4. We should honor our teachers with respect, understanding, kindness, and a thank you every now and then.. I'm so glad you got that card to take the edge of that dad who probably didn't spend enough time with his kid anyway.

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    1. The card I mentioned--I keep it in my sock drawer, so I can see it often.

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  5. I've had teachers that deserved praise and thanks and teachers who should have been strung up.... I remember them all. It seems to me pretty much a thankless job...I'm glad you got some positive feedback.
    Is it the 27th already?

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    1. Yes! The month of May is nearly gone!

      Teachers come in all varieties. If one is fortunate, there will be a few who make the difference in a child's life.

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  6. Great feedback indeed, and wow to the work ethic too. I remember every one as well, some would have been better off finding cars to sell haha

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    1. I am one of those over-achieving middle child in a large family. And I absolutely loved teaching, loved being with children. There is no greater joy in seeing a student grasp a concept and then run with it.

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  7. What a wonderful story! My best friend is a teacher and she, too has been absolutely destroyed by some incredibly harsh words from thoughtless parents in the past. I always tell her "You're teaching the child, not the parents. Do the best job you can for that child, forget about the rest." Easier said than done when letters like that come your way, thank goodness you get that feedback letting you know the heart and soul you put into it does make a difference.

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    1. You were such a great friend! Wonderful words to share to others!

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  8. Teachers are a big part of our lives. Some of us wouldn't be where we are because of them. Thank you!!

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    1. Absolutely--I became a teacher because I had some wonderful teachers who inspired me.

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  9. For every nasty person out there, there are plenty of kind people that God sends along just when you need a lift! Loved this story!

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    1. God has a way of doing that, doesn't He!

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  10. Ah, the learning curve! I'm sorry the father was so rude to you, but I'm glad you used his comments to your benefit and experienced something so positive later on. Nice post for RAK:)

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    1. It did make stronger, more attentive to details. It still hurt, as he never seemed satisfied throughout the school year.

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  11. We should never let the bullies define us. Our value comes not from them, but from ourselves and the people who love us.

    Most people can remember their teachers years later because they were such an important part of their lives. For someone to take the time long after their child left your classroom to write you a note of appreciation not only says what a caring parent this person was, but it also says what a special teacher you must have been.

    When you have done your best, always hold your head up high.

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  12. Teaching and nursing are two professions which I believe are essential - and significantly undervalued. A dedicated member of either profession puts their heart and soul into it, and the world is richer for it.
    A few years ago I had an epiphany. I am happy to write to people when I am not satisfied so it is also my responsibility to write when I am pleased with the service or product I have been given. When my smaller portion was taken to hospital I wrote to the ambulance service because the support he (and I) got from the paramedics was amazing. And got a letter back - thanking me for thanking them because it very rarely happens. Which is wrong. (Sorry for the long comment - this post hit home.)

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  13. I used to be a trainer and I can understand the feeling when someone tries to beat you down. But it is wonderful that you chose to turn that letter into a force that pushed you to try to improve on things as much as you could. I bet you are a great teacher :)

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  14. i would have melted too...harsh! but there is always a give and take. sometimes those things wake us up. glad to see it was just a learning step for you :)

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  15. Dear Susan, this poignant posting about an act of kindness that brought back to you your confidence in how and why you teach touches me deeply. I taught for a while and have met parents who fail to appreciate what we are trying to do in the classroom and what their child is achieving.

    To have parents recognize the miracle of learning and how all of us must work together for that to happen is a joyous gift. A true act of kindness. Thank you for sharing this gift with us. Peace.

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  16. Sometimes just a few words is all one needs

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  17. I believe Abraham Lincoln once observed that he learned more from his enemies than his friends. You're ability to deal with the criticism creatively is a big plus in your life experience.

    And kind words do a lot to help!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting
    Life in the Urban Forest (poetry)

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  18. Some people have a need to complain whatever you do. If anyone has a grievance there are ways of bringing it up which hurt no one. These people are also the ones who never say thank you when something good happens.

    I have decided to do the best whatever the circumstances and if that isn’t good enough for others, too bad.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!