“tell us you love us”

When I was growing up, there was something on television called TGIF – a lineup of amazing shows every Friday night starting at 8pm.  I lived for this each week, and though the lineup changed over the years I can still remember my favorite shows – Full House, Family Matters, and the incomparable Boy Meets World.

Boy Meets World was a series about Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and their adventures through adolescence with friends and family.  Central to their seven year journey through middle and high school was Mr. Feeny, the wise and beloved teacher.  During most 30-minute episodes, it was Mr. Feeny who provided the sage advice and cohesion that Cory needed in order to understand school, relationships, or life.

As I was flipping through the channels on my second day of summer vacation, I stumbled upon the series finale of Boy Meets World.  Suddenly I found myself nearly weeping during the last scene, a dramatic conclusion of the relationship between Mr. Feeny and his students.  In the classroom where he taught them for so many years, they asked if he had anything else to teach them.  When he said no, they asked for one more thing.

“Tell us you love us.”

What a loaded statement coming from a student to a teacher.  Mr. Feeny handles it with his usual certainty,

“There is a line between teacher and student that must never be crossed.”

And he’s right. The relationship between teacher and student is special and encompasses so many other roles.  As a teacher, I’ve attended concerts and games, punished teenagers, bought clothes and school supplies when my students couldn’t afford any, organized celebrations, and answered every question imaginable.  I’ve worn the hat of counselor, cheerleader, parent, disciplinarian, judge, jury, and audience.  Like most other educators, I’ve pulled 12-hour days only to bring work home with me at night so that I can wake up and do it all again the next day.

After his students have left and he is alone in his classroom, Mr. Feeny proclaims quietly, “I love you all.”

Whatever else I believe to be true, I know that love is an action, and I love my students too.

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