This school year has been an incredibly challenging time for all educators, counselors, and administrators. As you cross the finish line and embark on summer break, it is important to reflect on all you have accomplished this past year. We interviewed several 4-10 year olds to hear their perspectives on the meaningful work teachers did this year and advice on how educators should pause, rest, and recharge during the summer.
Use the responses below to remind yourself why you do the important work you do. Know that you have made a difference in the lives of your students and that you deserve a summer filled with joy, fun, and love as that is what you have provided others all year long.
“My teacher is special because she’s patient and waits for us when we’re really slow.” (Age 8)
When asked what makes their teachers special, our interviewees were quick to share the amazing qualities of their specific teachers. The answers ranged from some seemingly lighthearted characteristics to some very profound realizations about how teachers support students’ growth, development, and sense of self. Some students commented on how their teachers share joy with them and comfort them. Others pointed out that they help them to learn new things. And another noted that her teacher especially helped students as they worked through overcoming difficulties and challenges.
“My teacher is special because she gives the best hugs!” (Age 6)
“My teacher is special because she is beautiful and she is good.” (Age 4)
“My teacher is special because she is funny and makes learning fun.” (Age 8)
“My teacher helps people that are struggling or still learning.” (Age 8)
And another insightfully reflected that her teacher is special because “she understands me and what I know and what I’m good at.”
“My favorite memory was when I finished my memory book and she said I was marvelous.” (Age 6)
When asked about their favorite memories of their teacher from this past year, it quickly became evident that teachers, even with overwhelming workloads and a classroom full of students, somehow make each student feel special. For most students, their favorite memory centered on a time when they had a special moment with their teacher–when they connected, even over simple or mundane circumstances.
“My favorite memory was when we had a pizza party. She served me pizza and Goldfish and it was really fun. And she sat next to me.” (Age 8)
“My favorite memory was playing soccer with her at recess.” (Age 8)
“I love when she makes silly noises and makes us laugh.” (Age 6)
“My favorite memory was when my teacher attended my drum show.” (Age 8)
And, if you ever doubt how loved you are by your students, one four year-old reflected that it was just “seeing [his teacher] a lot of time” that was so very special.
“My advice for my teacher this summer is to have fun, relax, and focus on the positives.” (Age 8)
When asked what teachers should do over the summer, our interviewees had some very wise advice for teachers. The essence of their guidance was for teachers to connect with those they love, explore places that make them happy, and find small joys throughout their summer days. Several children shared that educators should spend quality time with their pets, their spouses, and their own children and relatives.
“I would give her advice to swim in the pool safely and put on sunscreen so you don’t get sunburned.” (Age 6)
"Drink coffee and have fun with her daughter.” (Age 6)
“Go to special places like movie theaters, beaches, and bowling alleys.” (Age 6)
And one preschool student just wanted their teacher to “Remember that I love you” throughout the summer break.
“My teacher should go somewhere she loves–maybe Pittsburgh.” (Age 8)
If you are looking for some suggestions on destinations for summer travel, our interviewees offered a special, curated list to consider for optimal vacations for their teachers.
According to these students, teachers should go to:
- “England because that’s where they made Harry Potter.” (Age 8)
- “To visit family you haven’t seen in a long time–wherever that is.” (Age 7)
- “Italy.” (Age 8)
- “Hawaii because it’s a nice place and it will be fun.” (Age 6)
- "New York City!..because New York is cool." (Age 6)
- “Mississippi, because the pool temperature would be perfect and they have a great bowling alley!” (Age 7)
- “To the beach because it is so fluffy in the sand.” (Age 5)
- “Colorado to go river rafting.” (Age 4)
- “Go to Florida and maybe Alabama and maybe Texas.” (Age 4)
One respondent had some general life advice to guide their teachers that is useful well beyond the summer break: “Have fun and do whatever your heart tells you!” Follow these wise words and enjoy your time off–you have earned it!