This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in the U.S. (in case you didn’t get that memo). Why should teachers be celebrated? They get a lot of paid holidays. They get their summers off. A computer could do their jobs.
Shockingly, these are real statements, that real people have said…people who were taught, by teachers, at some points in their lives. But, these are not people who have been educated about education. They are ignorant to the fact that most teachers:
- Get to school early, stay late, and come in on weekends to make sure their lessons are engaging, developmentally appropriate, and standards-based.
- Often spend their paid “holidays” grading papers, completing report cards, reading professional literature, and/or writing lesson plans.
- Spend their own money (sometimes in the thousands of dollars) on classroom supplies, books, gifts and incentives for the students.
- Write emails and letters, make phone calls, or hold meetings with parents after school hours.
- Think, worry, and pray about the students in their classes because they care more about them than just as a number on their class roster.
- Attend conferences, workshops, and take college classes in the summer to further their own professional development.
- Push their personal lives to the back so that they can greet their students with smiles and kind words each day, because school is about the student and not the teacher.
- Get paid way below other professions with comparable professional degrees and college experience.
I could go on. I could sing personal accolades of teachers who have impacted my life through the years, both as a student and a colleague. I’m sure most readers have their own stories. And, I’m also sure that most of us have some “bad teacher” stories, as well. That is unfortunate, but I would definitely wager that the positives outweigh the negatives. Teachers do these things because they believe in the power of education. They believe in the potential that lives inside each child who crosses their paths. They want to make school a safe and enjoyable place to be. A teacher’s work doesn’t fit nicely within a 9am-5pm day. They can’t clock in and clock out. They can’t “leave it at the office.” Educators don’t see teaching as a job. It’s a calling. One they embrace each day. That is why teachers should be celebrated. Not just this week, but every day.