This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and I was more than surprised to walk out of my house to a yard sign acknowledging my efforts as a teacher. While Teacher Appreciation Week serves as a culmination of the entire school year, I am fortunate enough to work with a staff that shows appreciation for each other all year.
In the beginning of my teaching career, I opted to go back “home” and teach in the very neighborhood in which I grew up. Realizing money would be a limited resource for me as an educator, I opted to give back my time. My students, athletes and parents always showed an appreciation for me, not with gifts, but with their actions.While outside stakeholders showered me with love, I was at a school with administrators that pretended as if Teacher Appreciation Week didn’t exist. We never did ANYTHING! As a result, the declining morale continue to plummet and we begin to have a large turnaround at the end of every year. I never understood why it was such a big deal. In my mind, I came to work for the kids, not a gift. For 15 years I stayed on the campus with little to no acknowledgement for my talents and efforts as a teacher. And it never bothered me until I crossed the street.
During my second stint, I worked virtually. We were unable to gather during the time of “Teacher Appreciation” because many of us stayed in different cities. However, it was then I realized it doesn’t take much to show someone you care. Our administrators cancelled all meetings throughout the week and gave us the gift of time time. Everyday they found a restaurant where teachers could eat free or were provided a very good discount and would send us the information. At this point I started to realize how good it felt to be appreciated by the people that considered you to be an asset to their team. Parents are assigned to us by default. Administrators, in most cases, get to pick us. I started to realize I didn’t care about being acknowledged in my first teaching position because it was something that wasn’t afforded to me. I slowly started to understand the phrase, “You can’t miss something you’ve never had.” Having this experience allowed me to realize how much the actions of the administrators at my first school killed the teaching spirit for so many of my fellow educators.
I’ve been in education 24 years and am currently at my third campus. I’ve been there four years and I can’t explain how thoughtful and considerate the administrators are of the staff members. While Teachers Appreciation Week is a great time to show your teachers how much you care, this is something they do often and it honestly feels much better to work in this space. Our administrators allow us to have some kind of activity every month with a theme and it’s usually accompanied by a free jeans pass. Yay for the jean passes!!! In addition to that, we have treats, lunch, breakfast and we do a Teacher of the Week every single week. While we had to spend Teachers Appreciation Week quarantined this year, they still found a way to make us smile. In addition to the yard sign, we had a drive thru faculty meeting. As we pulled through the bus ramp we were presented with lunch, dessert, a gift card and a token that I’m sure varied based on your gender. In addition to that, all meetings were cancelled this week, giving us the gift of time. While our administrators didn’t think this was enough, I know their hearts and they have the best intentions for those that support them daily. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have experienced my employers showing appreciation, with their words and their actions. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all my fellow educators! And if no one has told you today, please remember, “You are awesome and you make a difference in the lives of our most precious gifts. YOU ARE ESSENTIAL!”