Teacher appreciation week is upon us and as a former 6th grade teacher, this week is near and dear to me. I always looked forward to this week as it was a week of perks just for me and true appreciation from students, parents, the community and my employers. However, beyond the gift cards, lunches, flowers, and homemade trinkets, there is more you can do THROUGHOUT the year to show appreciation for the teachers in your life.
As a parent, I know it’s hard to be involved in every aspect of your children’s school life, especially if you’re juggling a work life of your own. However, an involved parent is one that simply takes the time to partner with the teacher. Honestly, we do not expect every mom or parent to be room mom or on every field trip. Sometimes the greatest involvement is just having you help us know your child better. Every year I would send out a questionnaire for parents to fill out regarding their child and having the parent fill out what they wanted me to know about their child was invaluable when it came to behavior issues, learning troubles or just knowing how to better connect with them. Involvement is really simple.
Remember they’re professionals
All K-12 teachers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in Education. Meaning they attended four years of classes devoted to learning and teaching methods (pedagogy), educational psychology and educational law classes as well. The running joke is that “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” However, teachers are professionals who have to learn how to teach in order to do it well. There are people who are natural born teachers. However, that doesn’t make up for the professional and experiential knowledge that seasoned teachers have. We have devoted our lives to the love of learning and passing on that love to our pupils ( your children). Teachers are not just glorified “overpaid” babysitters. They work hard to help your children succeed in becoming dynamic, engaged, and successful scholars, just like you!
If we do something well, please tell us. The greatest feeling ever as a teacher, is when a student or even better, a parent, tells us when we are doing well or thanks us for doing our job. Remember too, when maybe something as happened that you may not agree with, that we are only human. We truly have the best intentions for our students and we are only human. Give us the dignity of not assuming the worst in us. Approach us first about your concerns rather than immediately going over our head. Nothing deflates a teacher more than when a parent will bring up an issue directly to our principal before we’ve even had a chance to remedy the situation.
We do still love the little gifts
As teachers, we didn’t go into the profession for the money. So when you do bring us a gift card for coffee, the movies or chipotle, it’s like Christmas day! My husband teaches currently, and we have so many free date nights we wouldn’t have had without the generosity of his students’ and it’s been such a blessing to us. We also do save the trinkets your child makes for us. They are a wonderful memento to our year together. In fact I still have a t shirt a group of girls made for me almost 5 years ago. I treasure that shirt, because I treasure those students.
The political dynamic right now around education is testy. I see both sides, I truly do. The good teachers go above and beyond, and the not so great, give us a bad rap. The vast majority of teachers love teaching, love your children, and just want to be treated like any other professional. Hopefully this gives insight into how to really show your child’s teacher how much you appreciate them.