Instruction & Curriculum

Teachers Don’t Need More Mugs, They Need Respect and Empathy for Teacher Appreciation Week

“I am not a perfectionist, but still I seek perfection. I am not a great romantic, but yet I yearn 4 affection” (Tupac Shakur).  No matter the profession, everyone wants to feel valued, to know that someone appreciates their efforts, and to think that their labors have not been in vain.  As teachers, we can gain these much-needed validations of our worth from awards, accolades, and, more importantly, student success.  But, there is nothing like a grateful note from a parent, or a small gift expressing sincere thanks.  I am one who finds as much, if not more, pleasure from the heartfelt hand-written note or letter than a gift card.  Don’t get me wrong, like countless others, my credit card is on fire these days, so the gift cards are greatly appreciated.  However, the intimacy of someone taking the time to write out teacher appreciation notes melts my heart on a different level.
We have all heard about the love/hate pendulum regarding how teachers have been viewed before and during this pandemic.  Now, it comes time to show “appreciation” for all of those who bravely rode this “wrecking ball” of a pandemic tidal wave.  This “appreciation” will ironically come from some who previously professed undying love for teachers, but ones who might prove to be fickle in their adoration.  Discouraging board meeting’s public comments, social media posts, and sometimes even boldly aggressive emails have fueled this sometimes toxic relationship.  Be that as it may, we must think about this week as perhaps the last dose of positive adrenalin teachers need to make it through these last few weeks of this school year.
We must think about this week as perhaps the last dose of positive adrenalin teachers need to make it through these last few weeks of this school year. Click To Tweet
As teachers, we are sometimes so selfless that we ask for “teacher appreciation” to be shown in ways that may ease our financial burdens and out-of-pocket expenses.  We creatively find ways to fund things for our students. Donorschoose.org is my go-to. I love that this organization has double or 50% matching during this sacred week, but also find myself wondering why I think more people would donate to classroom projects during this week than to the teacher themselves?  Transparently, I will take full advantage of this opportunity to possibly get more items for my students and classroom, but therein lays an oxymoron: are we then appreciating the “teacher” or actually perpetuating the belief that teachers give and give and give to the point where even during “their” week of appreciation, they are still thinking of providing for others?
Mirror check indeed.
As educators, we need to provide solutions, so in the spirit of true “appreciation”, I propose several ways to truly show your teachers that you have unconditional love, respect, and admiration for them as human beings with real lives beyond the classroom.
Unplug Day
Designate one full day during teacher appreciation week that is not only a non-student day, but a non-work day (no grading), a non-meeting day (no Zoom), and a non-email (no new updates), non-voicemail (can it wait?), and complete UNPLUG day.
Self-Care Day
Have our Districts, Schools, and surrounding Community Partners provide teachers with either gift cards or major discounts to tangible things that communicate “self-care”: restaurants, spa days, manicures, pedicures, beauty salons, and the like sound relaxing even as I type them.
Teacher-Driven Gifts
Ask teachers what they want.  Offer to reimburse us for some of the things we often absorb the cost for, like conferences, leisure (not school-related) books, and during these necessary times, much-needed therapy sessions.
Child Care Reimbursement
One thing people tend to forget about, and sometimes ignore, is that teachers are often parents too.  Money (or even reimbursement) for child care, even for a few hours, would be a welcome relief to some.  Many of us battle so much “teacher guilt” as well as “parent guilt” when it comes to making sure our own children are receiving much-needed attention.
Teacher Grant Funding
And while we are at it, since we KNOW teachers will continue to have a hard time focusing on themselves even during this precious week, fund ALL projects on donorschoose.org. Yes, I will continue to promote this organization that funds so many teacher grants across the country!
This Teacher Appreciation Week, like everything during the pandemic, will undoubtedly look and feel very different from years past.  The true evidence of “appreciation” will be demonstrated by how we are viewed after this and the following school years.  To my teachers, embrace your role as the educating, encouraging, ever-evolving, change-makers that we are.  In the words of the infamous Tupac Shakur, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” Know your purpose, know your power, and most importantly, know your worth. Selah.

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