May 6, 2008

Questions Answered, and Teacher Appreciation Week

Today at "Work It, Mom" I'm answering the following questions:
  • Are you and Linda S. the same person?
  • Where are the cute Target earrings??
  • Are these your kids' real names now, or still the pseudonyms you use on your Swistle blog?
  • You are so pretty! I thought you'd be fatter!
  • Is your mother-in-law going to find you online now?
  • How did you come up with the name "Swistle"?
  • Is it okay if I still call you Swistle?


This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. William's school is having a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast. Some parents are sending muffins, some are sending juice or fruit or bagels or quiche; some are sending plates, napkins, or plastic flatware. It is a huge effort requiring many people's involvement and a ton of organization, emails, and phone calls. And what does it give the teachers? They don't have to make their own toast/cereal. For one morning.

It seems to me there are better and more efficient ways to show appreciation to teachers.

For starters, we could pay them as if their jobs involved SHAPING CHILDREN'S ENTIRE FUTURES.

We could follow up by agreeing to NEVER SAY AGAIN, "Oh, you're a teacher? Must be nice to get out at 3:00 and have your summers off!"

We could vote, when given the opportunity to do so, for more educational funding. It is a good value---unlike some of the other things our taxes are paying for.

We could offer to help out. If we can't go in during the day, or if we'd rather have a thousand never-healing paper cuts than serve on the PTA, we can offer what we CAN do: sending stuff in for bake sales or parties, purchasing an item for the classroom, donating scrap paper from the office, arranging a class field trip tour of our super-amazing workplace chocolate factory, whatevs.

We could acknowledge that most parents consider their own children to be above average, and that statistically-speaking we can't all be right.

We could occasionally send in something when it's NOT Teacher Appreciation Week. A little baggie of wrapped dark chocolates, maybe. A small bag of gourmet popcorn. Or, sure, an apple.

We could send our kids to school with a good night's sleep and a good breakfast---at least to the best of our ability (some of the little buggers fight us every step of the way).

We could write an occasional note telling teachers how much we appreciate the work they do. Mention a specific thing you noticed, or mention something general. Mention something flattering your kid said about the teacher. Mention how much you liked this month's newsletter. It can feel awkward to write a note to someone you've met only twice all year, but that's okay: the teacher is not expecting Shakespeare from you, nor is the teacher going to grade your penmanship.


I am grateful for teachers every time I put my older two kids on the bus and wave good-bye with an insultingly-large grin on my face. I am grateful for teachers whenever I babysit someone else's kids for a few hours (and all I'm doing is keeping those kids ALIVE, not trying to TEACH them anything). I am grateful for teachers during every school vacation. I am grateful for teachers every time my kids come home with some new information and I think, "Oh yeah! I forgot to tell them about that!"

I don't think we can say enough nice things about people who, year after year, take a fresh group of TWO DOZEN children belonging to OTHER PEOPLE, children who will NOT EVEN BE CARING FOR THEM IN THEIR OLD AGE, and try to improve the quality of their lives. Thanks, teachers! Super-big MWAH.

44 comments:

nicole said...

I totally agree! My daughter's school has suggested things for each day this week for the students to bring and so far I have failed to participate. But, I will be writing a long note about how much we appreicate her teacher and how happy we are that our daughter has been in her class. I'm not a slacker, I'm trying to be genuine (or so I tell myself).

Jess said...

This post is BRILLIANT. I am totally bookmarking it for when I have kids and those kids are in school.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post (delurking from work so please forgive the anon post). Although I am not a teacher, I am the proud daughter of a public school teacher. The littlest words/acts of appreciation truly touch my mom. As she nears completion of her last year of teaching, I always know when she refers to her "kids," they are those many many students who have passed through her classroom for the last 35+ years. Thank you again.

pseudostoops said...

YES, this is so dead-on. The former teacher in me thanks you.

d e v a n said...

love, love, love this post. Then again, I'm a teacher. (or was, in my former life)

jonniker said...

I'm not a teacher, but I am the daughter of a public school teacher and I, too, thank you. The comments people used to make to my mom would KILL ME, because yes, she was home at 4 p.m., but what they didn't see was how hard she worked all night long after she made dinner for us -- grading papers, doing lesson plans, calling parents, thinking of a creative way to get her (totally unruly) kids interested in something hard.

She worked nights, weekends, mornings before school -- sometimes getting up at 4 a.m. to prepare -- she worked as hard as my dad did, and he made four times as much.

It makes me sick the way teachers are treated -- the way that strikes happen and taxpayers riot when they're up for a paltry three percent raise. People stand around and screech that they're overpaid! They make too much as it is!

I want to SMACK those people very hard and explain that they are who they are today because some person somewhere, decided that they were worth the crappy pay and long hours. That they were worth teaching something new.

Alice said...

*stands up and applauds*

Maggie said...

Thank you for this post. I actually went to college to be a teacher, got my degree and everything, but never taught. Why? I am a wimp. I couldn't handle it. Teachers are superheroes, plain and simple.

NedaAnn said...

I love this post. I love teachers and all the things they do. I appreciate that I know my child is in good hands during the times I cannot be there. We bought theatre tickets for our teachers this year so they could enjoy a fun night out.

Clarabella said...

For a minute, I had to make sure I wasn't "anonymous" of Jonniker. I too am the daughter of a public school teacher. My mother teaches, voluntarily (gulp) 7th grade. GAHHHHH! She was just telling me this weekend about some out-of-control parent who ACTUALLY SAID TO HER "I pay your salary." Can you believe that? Especially with the minimal amount of our taxes that actually goes toward education and how abysmally public school teachers get paid! Anyway, thanks for the post. I know for certain that my mother is always very touched by appreciative, helpful parents AND students.

Michelle said...

We are also celebrating teacher appreciation week at my 2-year-old daughter's day care. I think we are living outside our means with this day care because we parents are expected to provide cashola for a massage therapist to remain on site for the teachers all day, a catered lunch from a swanky downtown restaurant and various spa-related gifts.
Personally, I like the note idea. I try to tell the teachers every day if R has said something nice about them at home, or mentioned something they did or asked about them over the weekend.

Tessie said...

Our daycare is doing that breakfast thing too, and it does seem like so much work for what it probably minimal enjoyment.

I am going to focus more on the notes this year.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

As a future teacher (I start teacher's college this fall! WOOO!) I say "hear! hear!" and also, "Thanks!!!".

It kills me when people think that teaching is a "9-3 with summers off" job. ESPECIALLY when people choose teaching as a career for this so-called reason (it's insanely competitive to get in up here in Ontario, Canada...so us will-be-really-awesome-teachers folk are very bitter about people like that!).

If you're a GOOD teacher... it's much, MUCH more than "9-3 with summers off".

chrisyub said...

As the mother of a Teacher-in-the-Fall and a mother who, come about August 1, has uttered the words "I can't wait for school to start," I agree wholeheartedly with this post. We have always been very blessed in the teacher department with all the kids and I have made it a point to let each and every one know how much I appreciated them. The Boy's teacher has been a challenge this year, but I will still say thank you.

Mommy Daisy said...

Thank you! I'm a former-ish teacher (I still tutor), and not enough parents care as much as you. I think it's great that you give teachers the credit they DO deserve. Thanks!

Laura said...

Thanks, Swistle. I taught for 5 years before I took on the sahm job, and I STILL read over the notes that parents wrote me over the years. I truly believe it's the hardest job, second to parenting.
Parents: please write more notes to teachers. We appreciate them!

Saly said...

This is a great post--I think it even applied to the preschool age. I write notes to the director about my kid's teachers once or twice a year because truly, they do a great job.

LoriD said...

Such a nice tribute. I have many teachers in my family (including my own parents) and, while I always joke with them about summers off, etc., I know it's not an easy job.

When we had Teacher Appreciation Week, the kids came home with little handprint cut-outs with the instructions: print your teacher's name and your favourite thing about him/her. Bart (age 4) said of his teacher: "She has pretty hair and sings nice." Lisa (age 7) said: "She makes everyone feel special." The handprints were displayed all around the school. The teachers have said they cherish every little comment. I thought it was a really nice idea.

Meredith said...

Awww! I am a 4th grade teacher, and I especially love the idea of writing a note to let the teacher know something flattering the child said about her. I love hearing from parents that their child loves me - it makes my day.

I have one little boy in my class who always seems to be in a bad mood, hates mornings, and rolls his eyes at everything I say. One day, his mom was in our classroom and mentioned that he talks about me non-stop at home and that my word is pretty much rule to him. That just totally changed my perception of him. :) Aside from getting a new perspective on his attitude toward school, it was nice to know that this kid enjoyed my class.

Really, all the teachers are in it because we just love children, so knowing that we have touched a life is so fulfilling. At this time of year, we are getting ready to leave behind another class of kids who will move on without us, leaving us to wonder how they will turn out.

Thanks for a greta post, Swistle.

Jana said...

I, too, am a former teacher. But I taught high school and by that point in time, no one does anything for teacher appreciation week. Granted, kids have six or seven different teachers in high school, but the note idea would go a long way to making the teachers feel appreciated for the long hours and bad attitudes they deal with every day. So, as a conclusion to my public service announcement - please don't forget the high school teachers when your kids grow up!

Paige said...

Amen to that! My husband is an elementary school music teacher and I get absolutely livid when people say "must be nice to be done at 3pm and have summers off". He works harder than most people I know and usually goes in at like 6:30am and stays until at least 4:30pm. He also works on things at home all the time. He cannot go to the bathroom whenever he wants or go out to lunch like most other professionals can. He works so much over time that if he was getting paid for it, we'd be living in a mansion. And because he is a specialist (not a home room teacher) there are a multitude of other things he has to deal with, including some of his fellow teachers thinking he doesn't do as much work as they do! Whew, sorry for all that. But thank you for writing this.

jennifer said...

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This was fantastic.

Don Mills Diva said...

I couldn't agree more - my mom taught kindergarten for 40 years so I know about what teachers go through...

Jen in MI said...

I am -somehow-the co chair of this year's Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. I have made numerous phone calls the the same people that always volunteer for everything and I agree with you. I write notes to dd's teacher and help in the classroom every Friday. Much more helpful, I think.

Suzannah said...

I teach 4th grade, and wish I could send your post to the parents of my kids, without sounding ungrateful for the coffee mugs and candy and such. I am grateful for them, and the thought behind them, but truly I would prefer a nice note or a pat on the back here or there. My favorite things over the years are:
- notes from parents expressing appreciation or things the kids have said at home
- complimenting me to my principal (principals love it when parents are happy)
- ornaments at Christmas (easier than most gifts, and I remember each child as I display them)
- keeping in touch over the years. As I finish my 10th year, it is so rewarding when the kids come back to visit or email from college.
Thanks!

Omaha Mama said...

Or write a really great blog post as a tribute. That's nice too.
;-)

Jennifer said...

You couldn't pay me a skillion dollars to be a teacher. I don't know how they do what they do for so little pay and (often times) so little respect from students and parents alike.

My mom is a paraprofessional at an elementary school and can tell you one mind blowing story after another. We truly need to do more.

I think a nice note goes a long way. There are a couple of teachers I had who I think of every single day and who I credit for me turning out as well as I did.

A couple of years ago I was named one of my school district's "most successful graduates" and I was so happy and proud that I was able to publicly thank those amazing women for all they had done for me.

Bird said...

HI. I love you. I don't usually say that to other bloggers, but I taught for five years and I think I can honestly say that a parent NEVER acted pleased. Most often, you come into contact with them in the principle's office and they aren't happy then.

Please don't misunderstand. I loved my job and thought I was making a difference. It was one of the most rewarding things I've done with my life and if the circumstances of my son's birth had been different then I would totally still be in the trenches.

But, it is the trenches. It's hard. I often stayed at school for HOURS and many teachers were regularly there until 5. I went to football and basketball games, raised money for school functions, took pictures at dances, etc. A thanks would have been lovely. I will, however, take your lovely post here as a thank-you although I am currently "retired."

jt said...

Hi, I'm a lurker who's posting for the first time. I agree with Jana. I'm a third-year high school teacher, and it's amazing how little feedback at all that we get...much less positive. I keep every positive email, card, or note that a parent or student gives me. Our PTA is great...they have done a few things for us this year, like set up a coffee shop in the teacher's lounge, do a lunch for us, or even something as simple as putting a pack of gum in each of our boxes. We appreciate it so much! Thanks for this post. It reminds me that a lot of people out there really do appreciate teachers, even those of us who are crazy enough to spend our days with teenagers.

Bird said...

Gawd. You'd think a former teacher could spell Principal--he's your PAL and all that crap. I blame it on a baby-induced sleepless night.

Erin said...

Well said Swistle. I feel this way about my babysitter. I feel like a complete dip for not teaching my 2-year-old his numbers. Numbers? Oh! You mean kids don't come with that automatically PROGRAMMED? Who knew?

Lisa said...

Another teacher saying thank you. I teach high school, and I teach math. Yeah, I am EVERYBODY'S favorite. Notes are the greatest. I have all of mine on my wall at school and when I have a bad day I sit and read them until I feel better. Most of mine are from the students, so it would be cool to have some from parents as well.

My personal favorite is "If teachers are paid more, people will go into teaching for the money, not because of the kids" Ummm, yeah.......

Mairzy said...

Yes to all! One of my best friends is a special-education teacher in a poor school. The work and love she puts into those children is worth way, way more than the pitiful salary she gets.

I have very good memories of teachers who made me feel special and worthwhile. I need to write them a note, don't I?

Farrell said...

VERY WELL SAID!!!!

Anonymous said...

If only the parents in my school appreciated us and understood what it is we are doing with their children, besides "babysitting".

JMH said...

Swistle: This post literally brought tears to my eyes. I have been a teacher for the past 12 years and I have heard all of the snide comments about summer's off, off work at 3:00, etc. However, do these people realize that I only get paid for working 9 months of the year? Yes, they spread the paychecks out to cover 12 months, but I only make a 9 month salary. THANK YOU for understanding! Most of the time we only hear from the angry / crazy parents, so it is nice to hear (or read) that people like you really do "get it"

Also, I cherish all of the wonderful notes I have recieved througout the years. They are the best gift to give. My favorite was when I taught special ed. I was working with a sweet 3rd grade girl who was struggling with reading and writing due to a learning disability. For Christmas that year, she had her mom help her write a poem for me and then she practiced and practiced reading it at home. My gift was when she proudly came into my room and read her poem out loud to me. She was so proud of herself and I was really touched by how hard she worked on it. Still makes me cry to think about it today. Those are the BEST gifts a teacher can ever get.

Miz S said...

Swistle, honey, that was lovely. I teach first grade, and while I love my job, it kicks my ass every day. I'm touched by how overwhelmingly positive all the comments are. No teacher haters here!

may said...

When I was growing up, my parents always said that crap about keeping taxes down and not paying the teachers more and blah blah blah... and then I became a teacher. Ho-ly crap. Definitely the hardest thing I had ever done. One of my students had a psycho mom who treated me like crap for the first couple of months, leaving me in tears often and with "the dreads" every night, knowing I had to go back to school the next morning. (She ended up liking me by Christmas, but I still almost quit because of her near the beginning.) I ended up enjoying teaching, but I will always encourage people to be nicer to teachers.

Courtney said...

Swistle, this post was much appreciated. I used to teach and everything you mentioned here is so true. Even though I don't teach your children I am very thankful for being appreciated. :)

pinkelefant said...

as a teacher myself, i just want to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! so often we are seen as overpaid losers... thank you so much for your kind words for us. and for everyone else... TELL YOUR KID'S TEAHCERS THAT YOU APPRECIATE THEM SOMETIMES!!! :)

Carolyn said...

Thanks. I'm a teacher, and the kind gestures really help us get through the rough patches. (I do enjoy refreshments in the library too, though. Not only do we get to eat, but we actually get to see each other!)

Sam said...

Maybe that's why one of my (preschool) kids brought donuts to class today? Which, actually, is a sucky way to celebrate, by SUGARING UP small children. Surprisingly, they didn't act like wild hooligans.

Many more commenters said it better, but yes, absolutely, our teachers deserve so much more - money, yes, but respect and SUPPORT from parents, most of all. My public school teaching friends have horrible stories, and just the smallest kindness and support mean the world to them!

Amy said...

As an administrator and former teacher, a resounding AMEN to that post. That was really well-thought out and on the money. I think I'm going to send my faculty here to read that. That being said, we do appreciate the once-a-year breakfast, too!

Jen @ Sunshine4Teachers said...

This post is the best. Teachers need to hear from more great parents like you!