So it turns out today is Teacher Appreciation Day here in the States. Or National Teacher’s Day or some variety of ‘Hey, let’s recognize that teachers do a bloody good job and maybe we should be nice to them’ Day.
What does that mean? Well, realistically speaking it means the internet is full of teacher-inspired memes, my roommate got a free chicken when she went out at the weekend (fried, obviously), and I got a bar of chocolate from a sweet girl in my class. What am I hoping it means? Well, I’m hoping it means that just for a day people might think a little more about teachers and be grateful for them, and that that one day might turn into more days after it.
Why is it important to appreciate teachers? I realize that since I am a teacher, you probably think what I will write here is biased. Maybe it is. Or maybe, since I am a teacher, it is simply well-informed. I’ll let you be the judge of that. But here’s why I think it is important to appreciate teachers.
- We have the most important job in the world. I know what you’re thinking: there’s more important jobs than teaching. Politicians and world leaders, their job is more vital, right? And then there’s doctors, they save lives. Midwives help bring life into the world. Scientists develop drugs that save millions, engineers make our world run, mathematicians develop theories to keep it running… all more important than teachers, you think? Maybe. But then, when you stop and think for a moment, think on this: there’d be none of those without teachers. No scientists without the teachers that taught them the periodic table and how to classify species; no doctors without the teachers that taught them that first biology lesson; no mathematicians without that maths teacher that turned times tables into a fun dance and made them realize that numbers can actually be art and music and the ultimate building blocks. So you see, teachers do have the most important job in the world because without us, those other jobs wouldn’t ever be filled.
- Our job is tough. There’s this common misconception that teaching is easy. I’ve heard it said, by friends and family nonetheless. “Come on, all you do is play all day. I mean, how hard can it be to teach a kid to add up?” Sound familiar? Well, next time you think that, try it out. Get twenty kids, stick them in a room, set aside 45 minutes, and work towards that goal of getting 100% of them to know that 1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5, 6+4, 7+3, 8+2, 9+1, and 10+0 all equal ten AND be able to explain why they know that and be able to prove it in drawings or written explanations. THEN, factor in that six out of those twenty kids may not have eaten a solid breakfast, three of them probably haven’t slept more than a few hours, four of them will have travelled 90 minutes on the bus that morning, and seven of them most likely have some degree of learning obstacle that makes it hard to even read numbers or words or process anything that you’re actually saying to them or focus for more than a few minutes. Oh, and don’t forget that the lesson resources you spent time preparing will be void when your projector and/or internet connection breaks down, you’ll get a message from the office that needs your attention and… Well, you get the picture. Not so easy after all, is it! 🙂
- We work long hours. Another misconception: we work 9-3 and get summers off. Anybody who knows a teacher knows that this is about as far from the truth as it gets. What hours do we really work? I get to school before 7am, don’t usually leave before 5pm, take work home with me daily and work Saturday and Sunday. And as for summers, there’s a whole lot of planning and classroom prep to be done then, too. If the average working week is 40 hours, most every teacher I know beats that on a regular basis before Friday even comes around.
- Kids matter. Here’s the thing that really counts, more than any hours or expertise or career prowess. We teach kids, and kids matter. You know how the old Whitney Houston song goes… One thing everyone can agree on is that kids are our future, and because kids are the future it matters who teaches and influences them. It matters who is there to believe in them and give them the confidence, knowledge and skills to make their dreams a reality. Kids matter, and so the teachers who encourage them and teach them matter too.
I could write and write and write about all the reasons why teachers should be appreciated. I could tell you that while we get paid little, we spend so much of our pay on our kids and our resources because we want to make classrooms better. I could tell you that we fight a daily battle to do the best for our kids while systems and rankings and so-called experts make that so difficult. I could tell you all of these things and more, but I won’t. Because it all boils down to one simple thing: teachers change lives.
And if you were able to read all that, thank a teacher. I hear it’s the day to that, anyway 😉