Grateful for My Teachers

Who (or What) Has Been Your Greatest Teacher?

Each year, September 5th is celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India. This marks the birthday of India’s former president, scholar, philosopher and Bharat Ratna awardee, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who was born on this day in 1888. This day is meant to celebrate the unique role that adults and teachers play in the lives of young minds to help shape their future and that of the country.

On this day I devoted intentional time to offer gratitude to all my teachers, remembering them by their names, reflecting and reliving all the fun and joyful memories and sometimes the hard conversations we had, recollecting how much they all taught me consciously or subconsciously. I reflected on my teachers that were assigned in their role as teachers. During the process I was reminded of all the other teachers in my life! And there have been many. 

The Oxford dictionary defines a teacher as a person whose job is teaching especially in the school. 

However I was reminded that our teachers in life come in many forms and not just those that fit the traditional definition. Teachers are assigned to us, we seek teachers based on our needs, we meet teachers, and perhaps some of my most important teachers are those who I name (often in hindsight) as my teachers through my lived experiences.

Many of my traditional teachers are very knowledgeable and accomplished persons employed in various educational institutions. Being assigned the role of teacher based on “alphabets” after one’s name does not make them an effective or impactful teacher if they lack the passion, the enthusiasm, the true desire to be there and help, to teach with their mind and their heart! 

Other teachers are my friends, my close community, my family, my parents, my children. Some of my teachers are those I have had disagreements with, those with whom—for some reason or another—we have not been able to connect on the human level.  

And then there are my own life experiences, which are one of my most powerful teachers. I name this teacher my spirit, my soul or my inner teacher. 

All my teachers have helped me and taught me a lot. Some imparted information and knowledge, provided me skills, taught me and showed me how to think and reason. They allowed me to develop my imagination and they encouraged me to reflect, and many allowed me to grow. Some cared for me at a deeper human level—they supported me, provided a safe space to be me, allowed me to laugh, to cry, to scream, and even blame them. They lifted me, they helped me decide which fork in the road to take, they opened up new doors, they closed some doors that they thought were not right for me even though I thought otherwise. So many teachers showed me the way to live with integrity and selflessness through their own living. And so many continue to teach. 

I have had teachers with so many alphabets following their names and then some of my greatest teachers have been people without recognized credentials but who are educated in the lived experiences of life. Sharing their wisdom and their support have been life-giving in desperate times. I will never underestimate the power of the lessons that I have learned from all my teachers.

Today and each day I offer you a deep bow and Namaste!

“To teach is to give, to care, to support, to inspire, to love while living with righteousness and integrity. To teach is to be taught and to be willing to learn.”

#REFLECT: Who (or what) has been your greatest teacher?


How is the coronavirus and civil unrest around racism changing the way you think of self-care, community and resilience? As this challenging time unfolds, I am posting a quote on this blog with a reflection prompt. Please join in the conversation here or on Twitter with your thoughts or what you are doing for self-care and care of others. My book explores such ideas too: Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.