One morning in the bustle of getting ready for school my third-grade son asked, “Mom, why can’t we wear hats in school?”

Grabbing lunches and bags, I shot off whatever was on the top of my head – clearly not a thinking cap – “Oh, it’s sort of a sign of disrespect.”

But after spending most of this school year as a substitute teacher, I know why we don’t wear hats in school–because there is a superhero-human hybrid in the room! And her name is Teacher. Actually, her name isn’t Teacher, but she’ll answer to it.

Striving daily to fill the shoes of a teacher is a mind-boggling task. What most of us don’t realize is that teachers have carefully cultivated superpowers. So, when someone like me tries to fill their super-shoes, you come to appreciate some teacher superpowers. For example:

Aggressive Cheerleading: If a student has horrific handwriting, a teacher will be the first to notice when it’s legible. In her glee and relief, she will gush over the student’s effort and her super-encouragement-power yields more effort.

Stick-to-it-iveness: Walk into any classroom and you’ll observe a demonstration in super-tenacity. Day after day, taking the largest strides possible – but not so large they leave someone behind – a teacher leads her students through the tenets of addition, subtraction, multiplication and, heaven help us, division.

External Tranquility: Of course there are moments when teachers are riddled with frustration. But when they tap into their super-patience-power, they can diagnose severe cases of Math-itis, comfort the sensitive, and settle recess disputes all with the finesse of a hotel concierge.

And when your eyes are opened to all a teacher does, it makes you want to stand and salute.

How does one salute a teacher? I’m glad you asked. Here are some ideas:

Help Memorize: Help your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or neighbor memorize their math facts, spelling words or sight words. This removes a daily obstacle for a child and their teacher.

Volunteer: You may get to revisit your childhood and read Judy Blume with kids who are just now discovering her stories. If math is your strong suit, pop into the classroom to help with assignments.

Donate: Buy six copies of your favorite childhood book to be used in small reading groups. Gather your dust-collecting “chapter books” to expand a teacher’s classroom library. Or, send a large package of sharpened pencils (They really do use that many pencils).

Lunch: When you’re out for lunch, you might consider ordering for two and delivering lunch to the classroom.

However you decide to salute a teacher–whether you visit a classroom, buy supplies deliver lunch, or stop in to high-five a super hero–just remember, you should probably remove your hat. There’s a teacher in the room.

Shauna Letellier is a wife, mother, and “wannabe teacher” who dabbles in writing during her free time. For more ways to salute a teacher, visit her blog at

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