If you weren’t aware, this week is teacher appreciation week. And I have a few things to say about teachers – a few blog posts-worth. I’ll start with this…
Teachers work hard. I know because I am one. I also know because I watch others do it, and because I know my own son. I remember my friends as students from my own time in school, and I have been immersed in the culture of education for the past 33 years. I have also come to realize that teaching is one of the most difficult gigs out there. I have only recently learned this from speaking to colleagues who have worked in other sectors before teaching (and some after teaching, as well). And I can tell you that it has only gotten harder as the years have gone by.
Teachers, lately, have started verbalizing how difficult the job is, primarily because the demands have increased while the rewards have decreased. And there has been considerable backlash. No one goes into teaching because they get summers off (because we don’t, really) and will make loads of money, but neither should teachers qualify for public assistance, yet they do. Neither should they have their names printed in the local paper, labeled “ineffective” based on their students’ test scores, yet they do. Teachers are sometimes expected to produce miracles, and when they don’t they are vilified.
I consider myself a good teacher, and I don’t think it’s conceited to say so. One knows when one is good at one’s job. Notice I didn’t say “great”. But over my career, I have been called a racist, a “favoritist”, I have had countless parents berate me over the phone, swear at me, and question me on why I didn’t let her daughter fill out her birthday invitations in class, or why I was upset that their son threw pencils at my office door.
Those aren’t typical days, but increasingly I am incredulous at the things we deal with, from all sides. It’s a really hard job. And parents who really know their children usually get it. It’s too bad so many don’t have a clue who their own children are (“My son doesn’t lie!”).
So take a moment this week, and think about the people who have taught you, and the people who are teaching the children of today. Send them good thoughts and/or prayers that they will continue to have the strength to do the job they do, because that’s what they really need, so much more than the trinkets from the dollar store, and the cookies. They need your support in the classroom, in the community, and at the polls. They sacrifice so much and work so hard for our kids, and will never be appreciated enough for doing so.