If you don’t work in education, you might not be aware that this week, May 1st through 7th, is Teacher Appreciation Week and Tuesday, May 3rd, is Teacher Appreciation Day. But, as much as teachers love coffee mugs and chocolate, there are a few other things that they might appreciate being given even more.
(Photo Credit: thanker212/Flickr)
1. Appreciation itself isn’t a bad start!
Appreciation for appreciation’s sake is a good place to start when it comes to supporting teachers properly in our society. Too often, teachers feel underappreciated, and that can be discouraging and disheartening over time. Research has found that teachers, for the most part, love their jobs but also that they feel undervalued by society. It’s high time we show teachers that we do recognize the immeasurable importance of the work they do. And, it’s important that we thank them properly for their time, their love, and their dedication.
2. They want to work as a team with the families of the students they teach.
A video made by the NEA (National Education Association) which features the president of the NEA, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, and the president of the National PTA, Laura Bay, seeks to remind folks of the occasion and also of the importance of families and teachers working together.
“We can’t forget the incredible superpowers that result when families and teachers unite for student success,” Bay says in the clip. “During this Teacher Appreciation Week, we ask you to take a moment to honor these real-life superheroes in a very special and public way.”
They ask for families to share a personal message or photo on social media this week marked #ThankATeacher (there is some great stuff there already) as a nod of public recognition and thanks. There’s a template at nea.org/teacherday, and other ideas and resources at PTA.org/thankateacher.
Teachers are rock stars, but collaboration is still an important part of the support structure teachers need to be most effective with students. It’s essential that they team up with families, and the community at large, and that their goals and efforts are appreciated and supported outside of the classroom. This week could be a great time to help hone this vision and understanding.
3. Better compensation would be nice.
Teachers’ compensation isn’t as great as some might think. In fact, serious myths about teachers’ pay abound. The fact is that teachers are not paid as well as other professionals with similar training and experience, the hours are very inflexible, the compensation doesn’t rise as much over the years as it does in other professions, and teachers don’t even really get summers off. Better compensation is an essential step if we’re really serious about showing our nation’s teachers the appreciation they truly deserve.
In addition to respect, appreciation, collaboration, and compensation, there is something else a lot of teachers crave – autonomy. Although there is debate within the field about just how far to take it, teacher autonomy refers to the concept of teachers being given the professional independence to make choices about what they teach and how they teach it.
Teachers are professionals.
They have specialized training and experience which allows them to become extremely knowledgeable about what their students need and how to best support them in acquiring those skills. Tying teachers’ hands with too many tasks, too much curriculum to cover, too many professional development details to attend to, limits their influence and can hinder their success. If we truly value teachers for the professionals that they are, we should show them the respect they’ve earned and leave them alone, respectfully, to do their jobs. They’d appreciate it.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you a teacher? What would you like to be given for Teacher Appreciation Week? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.