Appreciating Teachers

Yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day in the United States. I’m going to be blunt here — as a teacher in her fifth decade in the classroom, I find the celebration simplistic and annoying. In this country, teachers are generally not appreciated, but hectored at, scolded, disrespected, and generally seen as problematic in endless ways. I wrote yesterday on facebook:

On this Teacher Appreciation Day, I’d like to wish that teacher colleagues receive respect (not scorn) every week of the year not just one, income that is commensurate with their work and education, to be given what they asked for in terms of resources, to be listened to seriously when decisions are being made, and…did I say given respect? Look to Finland if you want to know how to do it.

Those who appreciate teachers, please help us in these areas. Show us respect by giving us what we need to be effective, to feel honored, to matter. I’m so fortunate I landed where I did so long ago, in a private school. This only happened because there were no public school jobs in the mid-1970s when I was on the job hunt. (New York was in a fiscal mess at the time.) After all, I’d gone to public school and wanted to teach in one. But that isn’t the career trajectory that happened for me. And good thing too as my age-peers in public schools have largely taken early retirement due to the reductive and negative nature of their jobs today. I am so lucky in not being curtailed by endless testing and other outside controls on my teaching. I’m able and encouraged to develop curriculum, to think, to reflect, to learn, and do better. I so wish that was true for all teachers in the United States. Make it so all of you teacher appreciators!

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