Awesome…19 days left until summer break, we just finished our state standardized tests last week, and I got to start this ‘highly regarded holiday’ day with my sixth extended, formal observation of the year. Did I mention that I’m an 11th year teacher rocking a Master’s in Secondary Education? How many more formal observations can I get before I qualify as an effective teacher?
This special day of recognition is meaningless to me. It is actually kind of a joke. I have been teaching in a secondary setting for over a decade. I don’t think that I have ever had a student recognize this “holiday”. Is it actually considered a holiday? Most teachers in this setting of teen spirit and hormonal catastrophe are unappreciated. We work our butts off for kids who are at the age where no one (including their parents) wants to deal with their teenage angst, attitude and absurdity. Yet, I hear every detail of their lives for a year, then they disappear. I’ll never know if what I do matters because they never come back. There is no fanfare, no rewards, no ‘because of you, I accomplished X, Y, or Z’.
I suppose I should recognize the leftover cookies in the break room from the parent meeting last night as a fringe benefit… Or the free coffee and donuts four times a year? Oh! Almost forgot, I get to wear jeans twice a month? What am I complaining about? The fact that I actually think that wearing jeans every other Friday is awesome, just proves how effective administrators have become to taking no real responsibility for creating a stimulating and fulfilling working and teaching environment. Did you know that allowing teachers to wear jeans has become the single most used bargaining tool to convince teachers to take on more work and more responsibility?
I suppose I should be writing something meaningful or inspirational about this day. I should write teachers shouldn’t need external rewards and that mentoring children should be enough of a reward. But come one, most corporations offer incentives for seniority and a job well-done.
Instead of just posting a piece of writing with negativity that I’m spewing right now, sorry, but I’ve been beat down by the system. I did once love being a passionate teacher, and I’m finding creative ways to keep my passion alive, but education has changed drastically since I first started my career. I do know what teachers need, not want, and it’s not a hallmark holiday.
- Trust me. This goes to administration and parents. I know that is hard to do with all of the stories on the news today. There are teachers who break the trust, but for every one of those teachers, there are 1000 who are giving everything they have to help these children be successful.
- Support me. Teach children the importance of education. Kids need to be able to read, write, and problem solve. Don’t ever tell your kids that you hated reading or math doesn’t really matter. Don’t make excuses for your kids. School is their job!
- Respect me. Teach kids that the teacher should be respected at all times, and follow through with consequences at home if a teacher reports disrespect in the classroom. As a parent and a teacher, I know that most of the time the child/student doesn’t give the full story. Please don’t go above my head or be angry with me before having an honest conversation with me. Reach out as a parent or a professional if you have a concern. We will be more successful in helping your child/student if we are on the same team.
So if you want to recognize a teacher today parents or administrators, send a sincere e-mail asking, “How can I help?” Or even better, send a letter of sincere gratitude. It could start something like this, “because of you, I…”