Thursday, May 9, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week - a different view

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. The week when you're supposed to thank a teacher for all that they've done for you.

On the surface, I am 100% behind a holiday like this. I DO have an immense debt of gratitude for several of my own teachers. And those thanks could never be conveyed properly with a card, or bouquet of flowers.

In our house, here is what Teacher Appreciation Week has involved:

* The teacher waking up 2-4 times per night to administer thermometers, Robitussin, and giant spoonfuls of honey to the students.
* Research on the Crusades being interrupted by visits to the doctor, orange-juice breaks, and the teacher writing out instructions on a whiteboard because her throat is too hoarse to speak.
* The teacher waking up to find a fresh cup of tea by her hand, and the dishwasher running - without having asked for help.
* And the students digging through the cupboards for lunch ideas, while the teacher sits coughing in the other room.

Yep, we're well into our second week of the flu here - for the THIRD time this winter. Morale is down, and frustration is high. And somehow Teacher Appreciation Week has flown under the radar once again.

Why don't we celebrate it? Let's look at this "holiday" for a moment. According to the NEA,  “Around 1944 Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began corresponding with political and education leaders about the need for a national day to honor teachers. Woodridge wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt, who in 1953 persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day... ...NEA and its affiliates continued to observe National Teacher Day in March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the event to Tuesday of the first full week of May."

So it's a holiday created BY teachers, FOR teachers. Pretty convenient, don'cha think? Personally, I think it feels a bit contrived. Then as I read online about schools sending messages home suggesting kids "just bring in $25 gift cards, so teachers aren't inundated with stuff they don't need" and other people complaining that if they see one more apple-themed homemade gift, they're going to scream. Which would seem to me, as if teachers aren't exactly tickled pink over what this holiday created by them & for them, has brought about either.

Don't get me wrong. I believe we SHOULD take the time this week to thank a teacher... truly, deeply, from the bottom of our heart. But because we mean it, not because a group of teachers invented a holiday for themselves.

In our school, I have seen gratitude this week in the forms of that tea, those dishes, and lunches I haven't had to prepare. And my students didn't even know there was a special week. Perhaps we could all remember... that thanking a teacher, doesn't have to be a one-week-per-year occurrence, OR be filled with gift-cards or gifts in the shape of apples.

Sometimes, it's the simple unbidden tasks that speak the loudest.

1 comment:

Sherri Tierney said...

Our school is pretty low key about it all, really. This year PTO bought a banner to put out in front of the buildings. We sent a note home with the kids (we being PTO) giving them suggestions on FREE things they can do to show their teacher some appreciation. Give them a high five, draw them a picture, etc. The kids like doing it. Our teachers don't expect a thing and our schools would NEVER send a note home requesting gift cards or anything else for that matter. A simple thank you or act of kindness is more than enough, as it should be.