Dear administrators: For Teacher Appreciation Week--- how 'bout some real appreciation?
I now have to, as my friend educat would say, remove something from my craw.
This week is, as you may know, teacher appreciation week. So I would like to address myself to the topic of teacher appreciation.
This survey from the NEA determined that what teachers want most from their students as a sign of appreciation is simply to be told, "Thank you." You can even go to this site online to send a thank you to one of your favorite teachers between now and December 28.
Now, the last few years, we have been given a breakfast and a little trinket on one morning during this week. That's it. This usually consists of coming into the faculty break room, having a squeezy ball or keychain tossed at you by an AP as you enter the door while a help-yourself buffet is offered of doughnuts, fruit, muffins, or bagels and milk (as you can tell, the secretaries choose the food). I wonder if the gift is tossed toward us so that actual physical contact is not made, but that's probably just a coincidence.
Look, I have to say that I would forgo the trinket and the breakfast in lieu of a sincere expression of thanks. Look us in the eye and shake our hands or pat our backs or whatever and say one thing that shows that you really do know what we as teachers do.
Which is, by the way, the thing that makes administrators' jobs necessary in the first place. It would be nice if administrators would realize that they are managers of teachers, not just commanders. Teacher motivation is part of the job of an excellent administrator. As it is, many of the administrators I have known-- not all, but many-- seem to view teachers as tools to be utilized rather than as the people who do the work of a school. They seem oblivious-- willfully so-- to matters of school climate that they could control which impact morale. How many schools have you walked into in which the administrators have preferred parking places, upholstered furniture, their own bathroom, air conditioning and heating that they actually can control, carpeting, and the like? How many schools have you been to in which teachers have anything close to parity in any of their classroom furniture? How many of us spend hundreds of our own dollars making sure that our own students have materials?
It's ridiculous to expect that situation to change, but this disparity does send an unambiguous message. Why am I told that I can only have $75 to spend on my classroom a year when that amount wouldn't even cover the cost of two packs of scantrons? I once worked at a place where I was given a box of blank paper to last the entire year. When teachers needed copies, they had to bring their own paper to the copier. Once that paper was gone, my students would receive no more copies of instructional materials. Meanwhile, the principal had fresh flowers in her office every week.
But, really, I would be happy with my administrators being able to name one thing that I have done this year. And I imagine I am not alone.
Being treated with respect and having my efforts recognized would do it for me. And the bonus would be the money they would save on the trinkets. A sincere thank you is so much cheaper. But apparently harder.
Labels: teacher appreciation