By Sandra Davel
Teachers are designers, planners, managers, and presenters. We are advocates, coaches, storytellers, data analyzers, innovators, and authors. On any given day, we wear these and more hats.
There is a well-known adage, “Those who can’t do, teach.” I beg to differ. It takes much more than a “can do” attitude to be an educator. It takes someone who is willing to take an hour to design an activity it takes students 10 minutes to complete. Someone who will give up their lunch to provide extra help or seek out guidance for a student in need. Someone who, according to a recent Ed Week article, makes 1500 decisions every day. As the 2017 National Teacher of the year Sydney Chaffee said, there is an undefined, “special magic,” that encapsulates a teacher.
We need to remember to recognize and appreciate the hard work of educators in order to keep great teachers in the profession. Too often, the extraordinary work of teachers goes unnoticed, unrecognized and unappreciated. And too often, because of this, great teachers leave the field. If we would all take a moment to applaud the work that goes on in our classrooms every day, then maybe these teachers will think twice. All it takes is a small gesture.
A few years back, a sixth grader told me, “I hated math until I had you as a math teacher.” I will never forget that conversation. In all those days she came into my classroom, I never knew I was making such an impact on her. After that conversation, I knew that I would carry those words with me for a lifetime.
So let’s make sure to continue to support our teachers and let them know that they are appreciated:
● Acknowledge and recognize their hard work. Whether you are another teacher, an administrator, a parent, a student, or a member of the community, write a letter, send an email, or stop by a classroom and acknowledge the work a teacher has done. Such a simple act will make a world of difference for that teacher.
● Provide them with the necessary funding needed to be successful in their jobs. Teachers must keep pace with constantly-changing demands of 21st century learning. If you are a district leader, provide them with the Title II funds teachers need in order to continue to grow in their profession to support our students. If you are a parent or community member, continue supporting schools with much-needed donations for necessary resources and supplies.
● Include teachers in the national conversation about education. Teachers interact with hundreds of students on a daily basis. They know their students well and they know what they need. They know what our schools need and they have ideas on how to get there. If you are a policy maker, invite teachers to the table. Let them be part of the conversation. If you do, you will notice that they are always advocating for positive change.
Amongst all of our differences, our experiences’ with teachers unite us. We have all had teachers. We all know someone who worked to guide us towards reaching our full potential. The work that teachers do to support our younger generations is critical to improving as a community, as a society, as a country, and as a world. Take the time to reach out to a teacher you know and simply say, “hats off to you, teach!”
Sandra Davel is a 6th grade math teacher at the Robert E. Melican Middle School in Northborough, MA. She is a Teach Plus Commonwealth Teaching Policy Fellow.