Teachers are pretty much unarguably one of the least appreciated professions in America. Sure, there’s plenty of “World Best Teacher” mugs for sale on Amazon, and most of us have heart-warming story about a teacher who changed our lives or inspired us – but when it comes to how we as Americans show how much we value something, i.e. in the form of cash, teachers are way, way down there.
If you’re one of those people who is going to start with, “Yeah, but they only work 9 months out of the year…” or “Yeah, but they are off work by 3 p.m….” or something clueless like that, you clearly don’t know any teachers.
These are the people WE entrust our children to every day to shape not just our children’s academic learning, but in a lot of ways their social and ethical educations as well. And far too often, we provide them with not enough resources, especially in areas where the students need it the most.
Teachers sit there and listen patiently when kids learning to read glacially sound out the words without jumping in and shouting “Walk! The word is ‘walk’!” Or whatever the word is. (And trust me, any parent knows that there is a period between when the excitement of your child learning to read wears off, but when you still need to listen to them read aloud.) In addition to teaching kids things like how to carry when adding, teachers are the ones who impart how to divide fractions and the whole point of geometric proofs decades after most of us have forgotten how and why.
Teachers buy the cleaning supplies for their classroom out of their own money. And pencils, so many pencils. And glue and scissors and atlases. They make sure the kids who are going to be hungry over the weekend have extra snacks tucked into their backpacks. They wipe kids’ snotty noses (with tissues that teachers buy themselves) and wash blood off skinned knees off from kids who are not theirs. And they don’t even think twice about it.
They do a thousand other things that we too rarely even acknowledge, let alone appreciate. So, while it’s nice that we have a week of appreciation where they get things like a free cup of drip coffee* (* with the purchase of another item) or 15% off their bill at some quick food joint* (*offer not available in all areas), it would be even nicer if we as a society would show our appreciation by doing things like actively working to provide them better working conditions, like smaller classrooms or more resources. Vote against measures – and candidates and incumbents – who cut funding to education and teachers – and vice versa, support those who do.
In the meantime – since systematic change can take time – do the little things. Back Donors Choose projects. Get them a a gift card so they can spend a little less of their own cash on Chlorox wipes to clean up after other people’s kids on publicly owned property.
Use Teacher Appreciation Week as a reason to say “thank you,” but don’t let it be the only time you let them know you’re grateful for everything they do.
At 7 Generation Games, everything we create, we do with teachers and the students they serve in mind. It’s why all of our teacher resources are free, 52 weeks a year.