gmarquardt has an M.A. in history and German from SWTSU and has over 30 years teaching experience at public high schools.
Forgive me. I’m an old teacher.
I’ve become numb, coarse, and blunt. I’ve cared too much and in doing so I’ve been hurt far too often. I’ve lost so much and so many to thoughtless or reckless decisions.
I’ve buried students and consoled parents. I’ve held students while they sobbed uncontrollably in agony over the loss of their friends. I’ve attended far too many funerals and selfishly ignored others to not increase my own pain. I’ve mourned.
I’ve had deep, honest, discussions and never had the chance to offer counter arguments. I've been corrected.
I’ve watched students fall on the floor and not get back up. I've seen students fall, and helped them rise.
I’ve seen so much loss, yet seen potential realized.
I’ve watched helplessly as students quit and failed. I’ve encouraged students to grow, discover, question, mature, and develop into productive citizens.
I’ve seen students not care about others. I’ve witnessed tremendous tolerance.
I’ve been livid, sad, unsympathetic, understanding, loving, and ecstatic.
I've embarrassed my students. I've been embarrassed. I've praised many.
I’ve screamed at students. I’ve waited patiently on others. I’ve disciplined students while ignoring the same behavior in others. I’ve rewarded positive behavior and looked the other way. I believe I am exceedingly fair. I’ve been unfair.
I’ve turned in students for alcohol and marijuana use. I’ve found drugs and weapons in classrooms. I’ve cheered others and their sobriety.
I’ve read of students arrested for horrible crimes and seen the results of victimhood and years of abuse. I’ve counseled hundreds and nudged others into seeking help.
I’ve watched students withdraw from school not knowing where they were sleeping that night. I’ve celebrated adoptions.
I’ve fed students. I’ve given them money, school supplies, and clothing. I’ve loaned many books that I have never seen again. I’ve given away many things. I’ve had precious items stolen from me.
I’ve taken students overseas. Some had never left their hometown. I’ve opened doors to young people who had no idea the amazing things this world can offer. I’ve observed international friendships blossom.
I’ve rejected criticism and given it freely. I’ve been hypocritical.
I've talked too much. I've been silent.
I’ve been lazy, obstinate, and ignorant. I’ve criticized, mocked, and cajoled. I’ve been wrong. I’ve been patient, kind, and caring. I’ve taught life lessons that have changed people for the better. I’ve changed lives.
I’ve helped young people grow. I’ve been thanked profusely. I’ve had students tell me they would not have graduated or become the people they are now without my influence.
I’ve been assaulted physically and emotionally. I’ve been attacked by students, parents, and colleagues. I’ve been threatened. I’ve been invited over for dinner countless times. I’ve received beautiful gifts and meaningful messages of hope from students and parents. I’ve felt appreciated.
I’ve been enraged by colleagues, students, administrators, and parents. I’ve put my foot in my big fat mouth far too many times and enraged parents, administrators, students, and colleagues.
I’ve spent countless anxious nights wide awake trembling in fear of losing my job and failing as a teacher, husband, and father. I’ve won Teacher of the Year.
I’ve hurt people. I’ve made mistakes.
I’ve tried. I’ve had success. I’ve failed.
I’ve tried to better myself and our schools.
I’m logical. I’m smart. Some days I am exceptionally brilliant. Most days I struggle to keep up with my amazing students.
I am exhausted. I am emotionally compromised.
I beg forgiveness and patience.
I’m an old teacher.
Ann Carr from SW England on April 20, 2021:
I read this the other day and could not find it on the feed, so I'm glad I've found it now.
Such a poignant piece. I'm a retired teacher and can identify with much of this. It's honest, uplifting and inspiring. Being a good teacher is hard but the rewards outweigh all the rest!
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 19, 2021:
Brilliantly written. Thank you for the work that you do.
Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on April 19, 2021:
Very honestly said. Certain thing you have said ring so true and can happen to any teacher in the world. Thanks for sharing this touching, thought-provoking piece.
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on April 19, 2021:
I enjoyed this article. A well written and quite touching piece.