A rather unusual ‘thank you’ to teachers

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Here’s a rather unusual appreciation of teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, an annual event started back in 1984 by the Parent Teachers Association. The PTA offers a number of suggestions about how to appreciate teachers, including writing letters of thanks to them and tweeting at #ThankATeacher, though a number of teachers I know would feel more than appreciated if school reformers would simply stop trying to evaluate them by using the test scores of students they don’t have. (You can read about that here.)

This piece was written by Kathleen Jasper, an educator who created the ConversationED website, which offers a platform for conversations about education and courses for schools, districts and companies on action research, leadership and technology. A version of this appeared on the Web site’s blog.

 

By Kathleen Jasper

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week!  You know what that means.  Teachers around the country will go to their mailrooms in their respective front offices, and hopefully, at the very least, find a Fun-Sized Snickers bar in their mailbox.  That ought to do it! Feel appreciated yet?

I don’t have enough Snickers Bars to fill all the teacher mailboxes in the country; so I wanted to give you a heart-felt thank you, because many of us appreciate how challenging and thankless the teaching profession can be.

Teachers:

Thank you for getting up every day and coming to work even though you have not received an adequate increase in pay in DECADES.

Thank you for continuing to sign in at the front desk, a system designed because your district does not trust you and wants a record of your whereabouts at all times.

Thank you for opening up your own pockets containing your tiny salary to give students lunch money when they forget, to pay for supplies for your classroom, and to pay for the gas needed to cart around kids for extracurricular activities. The cost to you adds up exponentially.  In fact, those of you who teach AND coach are probably in the hole  for about $1,200 to coach a sport or supervise a club. You obviously don’t do it for the money.

Thank you for being pleasant to even your ungrateful students who trash your room with candy wrappers, who are rude to you, and who make your job a living hell many days.

Thank you for continuing to support these same students as they struggle to pass high-stakes tests that keep them down. You know that poverty and parent involvement weigh heavily on a student’s ability to perform on a test, a test constructed in some corporate office somewhere, far away from your classroom and your unique students.

Thank you for filling out enormous lesson plan templates made by your district leaders, who are no longer in the classroom, oblivious to the fact it may take you an entire weekend to complete them accurately. You still do it.

Thank you for standing in the front of your classroom every day, despite the fact your autonomy has been hijacked because your country’s leaders are not confident in your ability to do the job you have been trained to do.

Thank you for attending yet another worthless faculty meeting only to be talked down to, intimidated and told, “You WILL implement more district initiatives in your classroom.”  Why? Because, quite frankly, the last 80 weren’t enough.

Thank you for muddling through, day after day, as administration and district leaders evaluate you on a unreasonable rubric never intended or designed to be an evaluation tool – your dynamic practice being reduced to four linear categories.

Thank you because, in spite of having our political leaders blame you for many problems in this country – the economic crisis, for example — you still keep on keep on keepin on.

Thank you because as your leaders talk down to you and impose unreasonable demands on you, they then have the audacity to put a Fun-Sized Snickers bar in your mailbox to show you just how much they appreciate you this week and this week alone.

But remember, many of us are extremely appreciative for your service as you continue to oblige your students, the ones who desperately need you.

In gratitude I say, Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. Yaaaaaaaay!

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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