What We Need is More than a Day on the Calendar

Rarely do teachers do it for the money or the fame, right? After all, those two things are essentially non-existent in the profession. Teachers teach more often than not because they want to make a difference. They teach because somewhere along the way either they were inspired by or inspired to be an advocate for the nearly voiceless population — kids. But it never hurts to feel appreciated. After all, according to a Washington Post article from September 2017, titled “Where Have All the Teachers Gone?”, eight percent of the teaching workforce is leaving the profession every year, and a majority of those teachers are not of retirement age.

Most everyone would agree that teaching is an under-appreciated profession, but little is done to remedy this long-standing problem past the last-minute Starbucks gift card. Special thanks to the signage that reminds us of this not-so-sacred holiday as you rush to the Target checkout line reading, “TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY IS MAY 8th!” I mean, what would we do without Target, amen? But while we all love a Starbucks gift card, it’s not a very emotionally intrinsic reward.

So what do teachers really want on Teacher Appreciation Day? You guessed it, appreciation — but the kind that lasts more than just a day! Teachers desire this type of deep appreciation from parents and students for the tireless work that is done on behalf of each child in their classroom. As both a mother and a teacher, I know how much influence this profession has on the most impressionable. At the least, teachers spend 180 hours with your child each year. What a privilege to have that type of influence; but at the same time, what a significant job that gets too little acknowledgment for its significance.

Teachers want to know they are fully trusted with this significant job of helping to prepare your child for future success. They want you to pay attention to what they’re doing in the classroom and support the learning at home. It’s profound for a teacher to receive a note or e-mail from a parent that’s a simple thank you or notice of the impact that he or she is having on your child’s life. No one assumes they are appreciated if they never hear it from you, the parent. Furthermore, the number of times that teachers receive a positive note are markedly fewer than the notes they receive about absences or requests for something. But the reality is that any act, big or small, of appreciation is remembered and treasured in the heart of a teacher. But more than anything, it’s the spirit and culture of appreciation that could really change things.

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