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As another school year comes to an end, I want to take a moment to recognize the many great teachers who are selflessly serving the educational needs of our youth.

My wife and I have been genuinely blessed the past few years in terms of the quality of teachers our daughters have had—and that is no understatement! Both of their teachers have been recognized as the school district’s Teacher of the Year. We feel like we hit the “teacher lottery” and cannot even begin to express how grateful we are to have crossed paths with these fantastic educators.

When I think about my daughters’ teachers, and some of the favorite teachers I had as a student, I cannot help but think about how much they cared.

Isn’t that how people always reply when asked what made a particular teacher in their life so special? The response is always, “They really cared about me.”

Caring is a hallmark of a good teammate, and all of the aforementioned teachers inevitably see themselves as being a teammate in the educational process.

They are fully invested in their commitment to their student, which solidifies their loyalty to the student. They see their student’s success as their success, and their student’s failure as their failure.

They communicate and solicit feedback from the student and their parents. They want to know what more they can do to help, and they don’t treat the process as a one-way endeavor.

The idea of being inconvenienced by the process is simply a nonfactor to them.

Having worked in higher education for so many years, I have seen more than a few professors during that time who frustrated me with their approach to the classroom.

It drove me nuts whenever I saw an instructor hand out the syllabus, layout the reading assignments, give the date of the exam, and then top it off with the infamous words “everything you need to know is in the book.”

That is not sound teaching, and those are not the words and actions of a teacher who cares.

A teacher with that kind of approach is putting the learning onus solely on the student. If the student fails, then it is supposedly the student’s own fault.

When teachers see themselves as being a teammate, they attack a student’s failure from a different angle. They use their creativity to come up with an alternative way to get the student to learn the information. And they keep coming up with alternative ways until it is learned.

Last fall—although it seems like it just happened yesterday—I walked my daughters out to get on the bus for the first day of school. They were insistent that I take out my phone and film a video of them before the bus arrived.

I had no idea what they wanted, but I complied with their wishes anyway. The completely unsolicited message they subsequently delivered in the video melted my heart.

In unison, they said, “First day of school, and we’re going to be good teammates this year.”

What has become my life’s mission all started with a simple attempt to instill the idea of being a good teammate in the hearts and minds of my daughters. When I heard what they said, I welled up.

(You can watch that very short video here.)

Yesterday, my daughters boarded the bus for the final day of the 2016-17 school year. I wasn’t able to be out at the bus stop with them, so you can imagine my reaction when my wife texted me the—once again—unsolicited video they demanded she film before they got on the bus.

“Last day of school, and we were good teammates this year.”

(You can watch the short video my wife sent me here.)

I don’t know if what they said is entirely true. I don’t know if they were always good teammates this year. But I know their words are a clear indication that the seed I planted in them is taking root and growing more every day. They are cognizant of what it means to be a good teammate and that it is important to be one in life.

That seed isn’t taking root just from my efforts. It’s also being nurtured by the modeling and encouragement provided by their school teachers, who are affirming daily what it truly means to be a good teammate.

So I offer a heartfelt thank you to all of the great teachers who were good teammates this year. Your efforts were not in vain.

As always…Remember: Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

 

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