In case you live under a rock or don’t have kids, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. (It’s also Nurses Appreciation Week, just so you know.)
Tuesday I was doinking around on Tweetdeck while I was trapped under a napping baby and I saw a tweet go by from MrsMiscellanea about how to appreciate all the teachers her children have without breaking the bank.
I’m here to tell you how to do that. It’s exactly the advice I gave her.
Write a note.
No overblown gifts, no fancy baked goods, no coffee mugs, no gift cards, no spa visits, no designer handbags.
I mean, sure, those things are all fine and good, and no, there’s nothing inherently wrong with bestowing a small token of thanks on the teacher(s) in your child’s life. (And yes, all of those, including the handbag, are gifts I know teachers have received.)
The problems with tangible gifts like that are many. For starters, they can be expensive. They breed competition over who’s giving the best gift. They’re time consuming. They sometimes feel like they’re intended to pressure the teacher into feeling differently about students. Like the teacher is being bought.
No one likes to be bought. They do, however, like to be appreciated. And appreciation is simple. Really.
The benefit of writing a note versus buying or making a tangible gift keeps on giving long after the gift card has been spent or the cookies have been eaten. When I’m wondering why in the world I got into this profession, I open my “Bad Day box” and read those notes and cards. I remember the students who’ve said “Hey, you know? You made a difference.” I remember that moment and that student and I know that I don’t suck at this. Someone out there thinks I’m doing a good job. And then I find a little well of renewed strength to make it through the day or week or grading period.
Or I look over at the podium in my classroom where six years’ worth of “thanks” have been scrawled by the many students who’ve come into my life. I remember the group of boys who made that podium for me in wood shop and what a hard time they gave me about learning anything some days. How difficult they could be. But I remember that we made it.
Teachers in this country are facing a serious lack of support from the public right now. A lack of recognition for the hours they work and the sacrifices they make. A lack of recognition for the talents they possess.
It’s easy to recognize those things.
A simple “I appreciate you” is, believe it or not, enough.
So, teachers, I appreciate you.
I appreciate the long hours you spend preparing lessons and grading assignments.
I appreciate the hours you spend doing paperwork for meetings.
I appreciate the way you balance the precarious roles of counselor, parent, friend, and disciplinarian with the students in your classroom who need those things.
I appreciate the time you spend learning more about your subject, be it through reading or attending courses in your own time and with your own money.
And speaking of your own money, I appreciate the way you spend your hard-earned cash to buy the supplies your district can’t or won’t.
I appreciate the fact that, despite the fact that you know you deserve more and could do a job that would pay you what you’re worth, you still go to work every day.
I appreciate that you believe you’re making a difference in the lives of the children you teach. That you’re in that classroom every day because you believe that what you do matters. To many or to just one.
I appreciate the difference you’ve made in my life by teaching me, even when the lesson was one I didn’t know I needed.
A fellow teacher who gets it