This week is Teacher Appreciation week! Appreciation of the hard work that teachers do every day is near and dear to our hearts. Teachers are doing very important work in society, and often can feel undervalued and overwhelmed. While it would be ideal to appreciate teachers all year long, it is nice to have a reminder and an entire week dedicated to appreciating teachers.
Ultimately the best way that society can appreciate teachers is with:
1) Support for students
2) Respectable compensation
2) Smaller class sizes
3) Resources and supplies for classes
4) Societal respect
These are our hopes and dreams for the teaching profession! We understand that these might be a bit difficult to accomplish this week, but a teacher can dream! We hope that one day teachers all over the country have these things.
But seriously, we thought we would offer some realistic ways to appreciate the teacher in your life this week.
1) A handwritten card from students
2) Small treats to keep in the desk
3) Coffee or tea
4) Flowers for their desks
5) Verbal affirmation or a positive email
6) A positive email to their supervisor
7) A bottle of wine
These are all little things that go a long way in making a teacher feel appreciated and supported. While we keep fighting for the top four, it is good to feel like we have people supporting and appreciating the work we do! We also found this great resource with everything you need to appreciate your teachers or even plan events to appreciate teachers at your school!
It seems that more and more we are reading articles and seeing in media reports that teachers are leaving the teaching profession more than ever before. According to the Wall Street Journal, teachers are quitting at record numbers. In the span of a year, one million teachers made the decision to leave the classroom. We are personally seeing and feeling this along with our colleagues.
The question often asked is why is this happening? We will tell you why we think this is happening. The teaching profession in the 21st century burns you out quickly. It does not matter whether you work in a public, charter, or independent school, teaching is hard and the demands and expectations placed on teachers coupled with low pay and lack of respect makes different professions more appealing.
The astounding thing about this recent trend in teachers leaving the profession in high numbers and early on in their careers, is that it seems to be a rather new phenomenon. Think back to your school days, we would guess that you probably had teachers whom had been teaching 15, 20, maybe even 25 years. Even as far back as when we began our careers, our mentors had been educators at the same school for 15-20 years. These experienced educators, whom we learned so much from, were tired and ready for retirement, but they did not appear to have the exhausted burnt out feeling that many teachers feel today. They and their counterparts were not leaving teaching at the rates of today.
So, the real question is: what is so different today than teaching in the recent past?
We asked a few of our teacher friends, and this is what they said:
Out of touch administrators
Administrators who value parents over teachers
Constant internal communication and no action
Not asking teachers for their opinions before implementing new policies or curriculum
No priorities, just long to-do lists
Unrealistic responsibilities placed on teachers
No support in the classroom with behavior issues
Lack of school psychologist or therapists
Large class sizes
Limited Prep Time
No breaks during the day
Possibility of being laid off
Leadership tends to be reactive rather than proactive
Pressure to teach to the test
Lack of autonomy
Over involved parents (AKA Lawn Mower Parents)
Constant access to teachers through email
Mean emails from parents
The effects of technology on this generation of children
Disrespect from students
Other things to consider
Lack of respect from society
Emotional stress that never leaves us
Teachers have always had to balance students, their parents, and administration. However, it use to feel that the accountability was placed on the child if a challenge came up at school. Teachers, parents, and administrators would work together to come up with a plan to support students with their challenges. These days it feels like there has been a shift in this dynamic and much of the accountability is placed on teachers. This shift has left teachers in a position to constantly try to please parents, even if it means going against what we know is right for our students. While many parents are supportive and truly want to partner with teachers, the over involved parents can make it very challenging and unpleasant. Relationships with parents can make or break a school year for a teacher.
If schools want to retain great teachers, we need strong administrators who believe in balance and boundaries. We need strong leaders that have experience being teachers themselves. We need them to set clear expectations for teachers and have boundaries with parents. We need to have office hours so there isn’t constant access through email on nights and weekends. We need administrators who trust us and support us when a challenge comes up. We need to have priorities rather than a never ending to-do list. We need to have realistic expectations and fair compensation.
Teaching has always been a hard job. However, in the 21st century the demands placed on teachers without the respect or economic compensation that equates the immense and most important work done by teachers is too much. Unless there is a paradigm shift in society in regards to teachers, we are going to continue to lose wonderful educators in our classrooms.