I have loved seeing all the different, amazingly creative, ways that PTAs and Booster Clubs have found to show their appreciation for teachers this week. I’ve also loved the notes from teachers asking parents to update them on how the kids they taught in past years are doing today, or to share a special memory from the time the student was in their class. If you haven’t had a chance to share a note of thanks to the teachers in your kids’ lives, or even to the teachers in your life who made a difference, it’s never too late. I’m still connected to my middle school math teacher and my high school humanities teacher, and it’s a joy to see them still celebrated all these years later.
Teacher appreciation is more than just a week of treats. Teacher appreciation is paying them fairly for the skills they’ve dedicated years to develop, Teacher appreciation is ensuring that the facilities that house our students and educators are safe and conducive to learning. This year, more than ever, we’ve been reminded that teacher appreciation is providing them access to affordable health insurance so they can get the healthcare they need. It’s ensuring that there is access to childcare for their own kids while the teachers are devoting their attention to ours. In some communities, it’s supporting affordable housing so that teachers can afford to live in the communities they serve.
Teacher appreciation can also point out some of the issues we face in our schools today. When parents and PTAs step up to provide teachers with materials and classroom supplies, it points out the inequities of a system that too often forces teachers to fund some of those items out of their own pockets, or to make do without them. I have mixed emotions about how many options have been created to allow crowdfunding support for teachers. I’m glad those options exist to connect donors to those who need the support, while bothered that there are so many teachers that needed the support that an entire industry developed around connecting private donors to learning about and paying for those needs.
When Teacher Appreciation week ends, let’s pledge to continue to support our educators by listening to them when they tell us what they need. Let’s pledge to give honest consideration to the school bond and levy measures that pay for our facilities and pay for those elements of a basic education that are not funded adequately by state and federal funds. Let’s find ways to work together. Decisions on education issues are not two sides of a zero sum game. Supporting our students and schools, and showing real appreciation for our teachers, results in better outcomes for our entire school community.