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15 Things We’ve Forgotten To Thank Our Teachers For

15 Things We’ve Forgotten To Thank Our Teachers For

Teachers have superhuman qualities. They’re tolerant, patient, loving, encouraging, forgiving, supportive, kind, warm, generous, and painfully honest, among other things. They forfeit family activities, personal free time, friends, hobbies, and, in many cases, their mental well being to willingly bend over backwards for their kids. They’ve made some of the most lasting impacts on our lives, and always did something extra special to make their class the one we looked forward to. They cheered the loudest at the pep rallies and are quick to give up their own penny to buy extra art supplies when the district cuts the program entirely.

Teachers are superheroes that don’t need shiny capes or fancy leotards. (Let’s be honest, their outfits are way better anyway.)

Sadly, they aren’t as celebrated as professional athletes, movie stars, or famous politicians. They don’t get fat paychecks and sign autographs for endearing fans. Their driveways aren’t flooded with paparazzi, and their faces aren’t on headline scandals of U.S. Weekly.

They are, however, much more than any of that. It’s time we recognized and thanked them for the invaluable lessons they taught us both in and out of the classroom. Here’s 15 things we’ve forgotten to thank our teachers for, but it’s never too late to do so.

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1. Thanks for teaching us how to share with one another.

Mousetrap, floor poppers, K’nex, and Koosh Balls are rad, but they’re way more fun with someone to enjoy them with. As much as we hated to let others join back then, we’re thankful for the friendships we made from sharing now.

2. Thanks for running after school programs, coaching, and grading papers every night, all while maintaining a “life of your own.”

The majority of you are soccer coaches, running the forensics team, or cheerleading the loudest at the football game against crosstown rivals. Starting and ending bells don’t mean a thing to you.

3. Thanks for giving us candy for subtle wins in academics, because it’s a proven fact that teacher candy is the tastiest.

The reward of getting an answer right is just as rewarding for the student as the teacher who watches the spark. Throw candy in the mix? Yowza.

4. Thanks for making us realize we were good at something we once thought we sucked at.

That Snoopy cartoon you made us draw that we thought would look like the bird poop splattered on dad’s front hood but turned out so good it made Charles Schultz jealous? That’s all you, teach.

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5. Thanks for putting your life outside the classroom on hold for 9 hours a day and putting a smile on instead.

Many of us struggle to balance our personal drama with our desk job. Try doing that with 20-40 button pushing kids all day. Talk about resolve.

6. Thanks for dealing with an education system that isn’t always fair, and sticking up for us when your bosses don’t.

Anyone with a “real world” job knows that crud flows down the structural pyramid fast, so to speak. When state and city mandated budget cuts force outdated books, or the cutting of a program, teachers are normally the first ones to stand up in protest.

7. Thanks for giving us accurate and speedy feedback on our progress, or lack thereof.

“Days off” are two words a lot of teachers aren’t familiar with. Have you ever stopped to consider how many of you there are in a classroom and how badly our teachers want to see all of those you’s succeed?

8. Thanks for providing fair and honest discipline.

Being the infamous jerk teacher isn’t something any teacher strives to be. Keeping rule and authority in the classroom is a tricky playing field. I can’t begin to image how many times teachers must be asked, ‘Can I have my phone back?’ nowadays.

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9. Thanks for loving your job despite horrendous pay.

Let’s not dance around it, they should be paid tons more for what they do. Period.

10. Thanks for making our imaginations stretch.

Giving open ended, your-choice-of-subject-matter type of assignments to keep things fresh works wonders for us kids. Thank you for giving us the academic freedom to explore our creative interests during school time.

11. Thanks for staying up with pop culture and cracking jokes about it even though it usually makes you look lame.

I once saw a teacher try to Walk it Out, and I’ll never forget it.

12. Thanks for making your own holiday decorations and coating your classroom in it. You’re so crafty!

Teachers are ingenious when it comes to this. If their curriculum can’t handle that kind of free time during November and December, they’ll spend late nights with hot cocoa carving construction paper snowflakes.

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13. Thanks for putting us over you.

They offer kids a ride home when their parents forgot them after practice. They sit with a kid who missed the late school bus home after tutoring. They willingly pay for the kids meal who can’t afford cafeteria hot lunch. They always put our individual interests and happiness over their own. Always.

14. Thanks for believing in us.

Remember when you were so frustrated by math that you went to your teacher after school nearly in tears, and the two of you tackled long division together? Or how about the time you found out you were dyslexic and your teacher sat with you reading every word of an entire chapter during their lunch time? If there’s one thing you’ll never see a teacher do, it’s give up on a student in their class. Not a single one.

15. Thanks for changing our lives forever.

We easily forget all the things you’ve done for us, and sometimes we don’t recognize them until we’re older. Please understand that even though we don’t say it as much as we should, what you do and what you’ve done for us can’t be reciprocated, faked, or given by anyone else.

You’ve always been our heros, and you always will be. To put it the only way we know how:

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Child Note

    Featured photo credit: Stanley Kubrick / Girl in Classroom via upload.wikimedia.org

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    Published on May 18, 2021

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

    The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

    Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

    Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

    Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

    There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

    Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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    Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

    We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

    Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

    A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

    The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

    Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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    Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

    Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

    Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

    While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

    Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

    These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

    Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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    Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

    Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

    Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

    Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

    Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

    Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

    As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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    This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

    Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

    Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

    These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

    Actions Speak Louder Than Words

    Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

    Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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    Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

    More Tips Improving Listening Skills

    Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

    Reference

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