Teacher Appreciation Week was May 4-8. As they say, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” But this year it is especially important that we thank teachers – that week and every week.
In these few months, parents, grandparents, and guardians have discovered that teaching and babysitting are NOT synonymous. During this era of Covid19, it has become clear that teachers, and education in general, are bombarded with many more issues than just following a lesson plan for a few hours a day. Here are three reasons to thank a teacher.
A teacher’s homework is never done. Not only is the undergraduate preparation for teaching rigorous but once you get into a classroom, continuing education offered through the district for continuing education is non-stop. In addition, teachers generally do more than earn undergraduate degrees. Most must earn additional degrees and even college credit beyond their degrees to gain certifications and keep abreast of their profession. I don’t know teachers who don’t take home papers to grade, lesson plan books to prepare, grade books to evaluate, and textbooks to help with all the above. Generally, teachers don’t get overtime, but they give all their time to make classrooms run seamlessly – every day.
It costs to be a teacher. You may have heard that some teachers spend their own money for their classes. Truth: Most teachers spend a good chunk of their own money on their classes. I learned that lesson in week one of my first year of teaching. The school failed to supply me with enough books for all my classes, so I immediately had to find ways to supplement my lessons. In recent years, teachers have had to equip classrooms with tissue and hand sanitizer in addition to teaching materials for classes. And let’s not count the number of times teachers have bought supplies for individual students or paid for class trips or given students spending money on those trips. Teachers have even supported families by buying boots for winter or food for the family table because that teacher saw first-hand the evidence that parents were struggling to make ends meet.
Teachers really do like your kids. Perhaps these few months have revealed to some parents that there is a side to their offspring that they may have not noticed before. (They probably denied that it was even there!) It is true that some children and teens challenge the teacher and the teaching process. But by and large, teachers are teachers because they look forward to the surprises that arise during the school year. We notice when students discover a love for a book, joy in a subject they thought they would hate, or success in a sport or skill that lets them soar. Watching young people bloom at any age is exciting. And, contrary to what you see, kids really do say and do the darndest things. They often bring out the humanity of all of us when things are heavy or ho-hum. And then they can be amazing! I recall telling a parent of a teen who was being banned from school for his behavior that her son had won a citywide award for writing. Her response: “My son?” She brought the entire family to the ceremony.
So, thank a teacher this week. Thank the teacher who is working with your child online and then thank yourself. Not only are you your child’s first teacher, but if your kitchen table has miraculously turned into a school desk, you’re still one of the best teachers your child will ever have.