As the child of two retired teachers, a wife of an elementary school principal, and a former classroom teacher myself, I am passionate about public education and am an advocate for all teachers, no matter the sector.
This is Teacher Appreciation Week and though it’s nice to thank teachers this week and give them a gift, we need to appreciate them always. There are many reasons to appreciate teachers, but these five really stand out to me.
1) Jacks of All Trades: A teaching license allows a person to teach elementary education or middle school science or high school math, but teachers do much more than teach content. Teachers are also role models, coaches, nurses, therapists, and mentors. In a single day, along with teaching, a teacher will calm a crying child, help a teenager make a difficult decision, or coach a team to a championship. Those who truly know what it means to teach, know that the word “teacher” involves so much more than merely teaching about a subject.
2). Passion Without Adequate Pay: According to the National Educator Association (NEA) website, the national average starting salary for teachers is $30, 377. Computer programmers start at $43, 635. Public accounting professionals start at $44, 668. Registered nurses start at $45, 570. Further, the gap gets wider the more years a teacher puts in. Annual pay for teachers has fallen significantly over the past 60 years when compared to the pay of other workers with college degrees. Nationwide, the average earnings of workers with four-year degrees are 50% higher than the average earnings of a teacher. Teachers obviously don’t teach for the money, and that alone says a lot.
3). Never-ending Workday: Folks who have never taught or who are not close with a teacher sometimes think a teacher’s workday runs from 8:00-3:30. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Many teachers have morning duties that begin by 7:15 am. Others drive buses and many come early to work with students. Very few, if any, teachers I know are out the door right at 3:30. Many teachers coach, tutor after school, drive buses, or merely stay late to prepare for the next day. Aside from the actual workday itself, most teachers work after their own kids go to bed, grading and planning, and many cars sprinkle school parking lots on weekends and holidays. Further still, along with physical work hours, teachers minds are never far from their classrooms. It may be an awesome activity they can’t quite nail down or a concern over a student’s change in behavior; nevertheless, a teacher’s mind is always active.
4). No Summers Off: Sometimes when I hear folks say, “Well, teachers have the entire summer off, so it can’t be that bad,” I have to take deep, yoga breaths to not get frustrated with the person. Students have summers off, but teachers do not. Many teachers work second jobs during the summer, often working with kids in another capacity. All teachers work and plan during the summer months, often attending trainings during the summer. Whether at school or at home, all teachers spend the summer analyzing the previous school year and planning for the next school year.
5). Teachers Love Kids: John C. Maxwell once said, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Good teachers care about kids and teachers who care about kids see results. I remember my own experiences as a student. When I knew a teacher cared about and believed in me, I would do anything for that person. Nothing has changed in that regard. Regardless of technology, innovative practice, solar powered schools, or smaller class sizes, the heart of the classroom is the teacher. And when that heart cares about students, magic happens.
Thank you, teachers!