National Teacher Day is marked on the Tuesday of the first full week of May, which is also Teacher Appreciation Week. This year, National Teacher Day will take place on May 7. This is a big deal for me, not just because I’m a teacher, but because I love and respect my son’s teachers. Being a teacher is not easy. It doesn’t pay well. And it’s certainly not glamorous. Teachers are in it for their love of children and love of teaching, and not for glory, fame or riches.
An entire week to appreciate teachers is a great thing—I just wish that every year was National Teacher Year. Especially since in the U.S., teachers are constantly under fire from advocate groups, politicians, parents and administrators. In this country, teachers have it pretty bad. Really.
Imagine teaching for nine hours every day, and then having to take home and grade the work of 60 or more students. Imagine having to volunteer your time during special events at the school. Imagine having to deal with the personalities of dozens of students whose parents have neglected to teach them the meaning of respect, common courtesy and even manners. Imagine having to deal with ‘helicopter’ parents who hover over your every move, making sure you’re treating their son or daughter in that ‘special’ way only he or she deserves. And now imagine having dozens of those parents hovering over you, emailing you, calling you non-stop, each one bombarding you with questions—or unsolicited advice—about his or her child.
Imagine having school administrators watching your every move, making sure you follow the administration’s policies to the T. Imagine having to prepare every kid for an assessment test like the FCAT (in Florida), while knowing deep down in your heart that the test means absolutely nothing as far as educating the children, but means everything as far as your own teaching evaluation and school funding go. Imagine finding out, after an awesome school year, that politicians have once again frozen or even cut your pay. Imagine having to buy school supplies for your students out of your own tiny paycheck. Imagine having to take a part time job on nights and weekends at Starbucks or waiting tables, in order to make ends meet.
If it’s so bad, then why teach?
Read Related: How Your Kids Can Show Teacher Appreciation
Imagine the look on a child’s face when he gets his first A. Imagine that child you’ve been working with, the one who had a difficult time with math, when she suddenly gets it. Imagine the look of pride on your students faces when they win an academic prize. Imagine the feeling of seeing your former students graduate. Imagine knowing they’re off to a good college and that somehow you helped make that happen. Imagine that the world will be a better place because of your students. Imagine knowing that you had a hand in shaping that world.
Imagine your students saying, Thank you.
Teachers teach because they care.
But teachers in the U.S get no respect. They’re attacked from all sides. People think of them as the enemy. Isn’t it time we changed the way we think about teachers? We entrust our children to them. Our kids spend the majority of their first 20 years with teachers. Shouldn’t we support them, respect them and thank them?
In my book, a good teacher is worth more than his or her weight in gold, more than Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Warren Buffett combined. A good teacher is priceless.
This May 7, take a little time to thank your child’s teachers. Trust me, it will mean a great deal to them.