In a profession where 50% of us are leaving the field within five years of entering it, this is one of the most difficult times to be a teacher. Most teachers enter the field idealistic and passionate about helping children, only to find that the daily challenges of navigating the increasing demands of the job and growing bureaucracy, paired with unrealistic expectations and challenging students, can wear down even the most zealous. For those who stay, it’s easy to lose those ideals and enthusiasm in a job that can often seem thankless. This year, May 4-8 is Teacher Appreciation week – and here are some reasons to appreciate teachers, not just in May, but all year long!
1. The tons of paper work you never see. That’s right. Each cherubic face that walks through the classroom door is lugging an invisible mail bag bulging with forms to be filled out! You’ll never see them, but local and federal accountability departments ensure that school budgets include prodigious amounts of ink.
2. The germs they put up with. The classroom is a veritable petri dish of bacteria, teaming with impetigo, lice, scabies, and ringworm. And while kids may not be eager to share their toys, these they pass on without thought or complaint. As someone who has had them all, I’ve often thought hazard pay should come with the job.
3. The sub-par pay. Perhaps you’ve seen the graphs equating teacher pay to a $2.50 an hour baby sitter. Though these are over-exaggerated, the fact remains that for the required education and continued certification requirements, teachers make much less than their similarly educated peers. While summers off are a boon, it’s also three months of unemployment and when school is out, many teachers work second jobs to cover the mortgage.
4. The constant changes. Whether it’s current legislators, a recent tragedy, trending curriculum, new technology, or other educational bandwagon, the one thing that stays the same in education is that it is constantly changing. Teachers are required to continually find new materials and plan new lessons with each shift of the educational landscape. It requires diligence to keep skills cutting edge, and is difficult to master a craft that evolves at such a fast pace.
5. A million tasks. Teachers balance countless things and still have time for hugs. Field trips, permission forms, open houses, book orders, state, federal, and local testing, emails, parent conferences, discipline, hurt feelings, boo-boo’s, homework, report cards, grading, PEP’s, IEP’s, 504’s, and projectile vomit – teachers handle it all with impressive ease, even if it means going home at eight pm and grading in front of the TV!
6. A 20+ to 1 ratio. Let’s face it. Most of us have nightmares about being responsible for that many kids, but teachers do it every day, and very rarely lose any on field trips!
7. Challenging kids. Teachers love and teach all kids, even the stinky ones. Let’s face it. Not every kid that walks through a classroom door is equipped with good manners and a sweet temperament. Yet, the best of us strive to be fair and kind, and to better all of our charges, no matter their disposition, socioeconomic status, or the last time they took a bath.
It takes a special person to be a teacher. Most of us can reach back into our memories and locate one who was influential in shaping our lives. This May during Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s make sure our teachers know their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and that we appreciate the sacrifices they make to ensure our children have a better future!