Here it is, the week we've all been waiting for, right? Teacher Appreciation Week! It's often been noted that teaching is the most under rated and unappreciated job out there - I somewhat agree. But how many of us are paid for what we are truly worth?
We've seen the inspiring stories about "what do you make," when educators can say "We make a difference in children's lives, what do you make?" The harsh reality about teaching is that this profession will never receive the recognition and compensation it deserves - it is impossible to put a price tag on what we do every day to help shape the future, despite the ever growing obstacles we face.
Time magazine has a piece out right now titled What Makes A Great Teacher. Fair enough question, as each of us probably has our own definition. Sometimes the "popular" teacher is defined as great - but that is a whole other mountain to climb. Recently my nephew told me his Government teacher was "chill" because he didn't give homework, gave extra credit for kids who did the required work, and showed a lot of films in class. I am not judging a person I do not know, but given the criteria I just listed, that is NOT a great teacher. In my opinion, a great teacher is one who is organized, consistent, rigorous, continually has high expectations of ALL students, and inspires greatness. Any teacher can be nice - allow kids to eat in class, turn in work late, etc. But the teacher who demonstrates consistency and what I call "tough love" is the one who the kids will remember for the right reasons - the one who prepares them for the next stage of their life. Teaches lessons beyond the curriculum - teaches students about LIFE.
The reason I chose education as my career is because of the teachers I had who inspired me - inspired me to think - inspired me to do my best - inspired me to dig deeper and learn more - inspired me to NEVER give up - inspired me to dream....
Like any profession, education has its share of individuals who simply do not belong working with children. "Moving" these individuals along takes time, courage, and conviction. It is a necessary evil in any profession.
The great teachers I have had along the way - (Rod Liner, John Ertola, Ken Ball, Mike Radoye, Diane Hooper, Wilma Hoffmann, and so many others) - have taught me more than the required curriculum. They taught me about life - about humanity - about making this world a better place. Treat others as you want to be treated. Never judge a book by its cover. Find meaning in all you do. Look for the best in others. Know that you aren't entering the teaching profession for fortune or fame - but to simply do what you love to do and make a difference in the lives of our youth. Here's to all of the great teachers out there - you should be appreciated EVERY week, but especially this week. Thank you for your sacrifices and the differences you make.