Ways to appreciate teachers
“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”
— Mark Van Doren, poet, professor
Teaching often winds up in that large container of things loosely identified by society as “thankless jobs.”
Oddly enough, it’s a designation often applied to tasks that constitute the backbone of our communities — teaching, law enforcement, fire protection and rescuers — those whose daily contributions are too vast to simply ignore or overlook.
Yet, it happens.
And that’s a shame. Because the truth should be far removed from this rather casual throwaway line — “thankless jobs.”
That’s why we pause today to note the importance of teachers to our past, present and most especially our future. The first week in May is National Teacher Appreciation Week, which includes National Teacher Day. National Teacher Day was marked for the first time in 1953 and was held in March. In 1985, the day to honor teachers was moved to the Tuesday of the first full week in May.
But really, why wait for a special occasion? In one way or another, we should say thanks to the teachers who mold the young minds of our nation — sparking the urge for knowledge and, well, discovery, each and every day.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward, author
According to the PTA, there are more than 3.2 million people teaching in public schools across the nation in grades kindergarten to 12. Many of them make sacrifices to be part of a profession that for the truly gifted instructor is an avocation. They know going in, for example, that teachers make low-to-moderate pay. Teachers’ salaries still lag behind other occupations requiring a college degree. And teachers take a lot of work home each night or are required to return to school for myriad extracurricular activities. In their time off, they sometimes spend long hours brushing up on the latest education standards or trends via classrooms, seminars or computers.
In-between, they impart what they’ve learned to students who arrive in class with varying degrees of interest and capabilities — not to mention liabilities. Teachers must be communicators, leaders, nurturers, accountants, readers, writers, mathematicians, historians, scientists and disciplinarians. They deal with everything from bathroom disasters to skinned knees, fragile egos and the inability to comprehend fractions.
That’s a long list of duties by any standard.
So, what can be done by means of public support? Well, a good place to start might be saying “thanks” to a teacher when meeting one. Or folks could reach out to a former teacher who made a difference in their lives. Could be a thank-you note, or a status notation via Facebook or Twitter.
But those are in-the-moment gestures. Here are some more long-term suggestions.
— Let education and political officials know how important teachers are. Give them your ideas for rewarding great classroom performance.
— Get involved in the PTA at your child’s school.
— Visit a local school to find out what you can do to show your appreciation.
— Volunteer to help the schools your children attend.
— Write letters and cards of appreciation to your students’ teachers and ask how you can support them throughout the year.
Really, that’s probably what our teachers want most — a little support and two simple words.
— From the New Bern Sun Journal
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