Back when I was teaching in Canada (Linguistics courses at the University of Toronto), there was no Teacher Appreciation Week. I’m not even sure there was a Teacher Appreciation Day. And I find myself wondering if there should be one anywhere.
Don't get me wrong. I know from experience that teachers work hard. I know that they are vital to the continuing success of our society and even of our planet. In my opinion, education, and therefore teachers, are key to just about everything.
So why don't I think we should have Teacher Appreciation Week? Because I don't think society is truly appreciating teachers the way that we should. Lay offs, lack of funding in the education system, pay cuts, tying teacher wages to bizarre test scores. All of this screams that we have a total and complete *lack* of appreciation. For this reason, Teacher Appreciation Week rings a little false. It’s like a small token where a larger one should be.
Teacher Appreciation Week is a time to, yes, show our teachers that we appreciate them. But I worry that it’s also a time to pat ourselves on the back and say, “Even though society doesn’t properly appreciate teachers, I’ve shown that I do. Good job me! Now, back to normal life.”
If you’re celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, I think you need to have a hard look at what teachers mean to your school and your community. If we really want to show teachers that we appreciate them, we have to take it a step further. It can’t just be about giving a gift and making a lunch.
Don’t worry. I'm not going to seriously opt out of Teacher Appreciation Week at my son's school. The opposite in fact. I've already made and served the dessert and punch at our teacher’s luncheon and I will continue to participate all week.
I do however find myself wishing that one of the events held during Teacher Appreciation Week was a letter-writing campaign. I wonder if the teachers would appreciate that as much as the manicures we’re arranging for them.
Even if there isn’t a letter-writing campaign, I will certainly write my own letter. And I’ve written this post. I will talk about this issue and tell others what I think. What will you do?
Tell me, how do you think we should show our appreciation to teachers? Do you think Teacher Appreciation Week is enough or do you agree that it's a small token that serves to mask how under-appreciated teachers really are?
Note: I am not an American citizen and therefore I cannot vote. If I could, voting in favor of education funding would be on my list of things to do for our teachers. Also, my son is in pre-school and is therefore not yet part of the public system. However, I don’t think this disqualifies me from thinking about how teachers of all types, in all kinds of schools, are or aren’t valued in our society.
Photo Credit: angryjuliemonday.
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