Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Your assignment: Write your teachers

We've heard it a million times: Teacher morale is in the toilet. Stress is soaring, money is tight and pink slips are about to fly.

Here's something you can do: Let teachers know how much difference they make.

It happens to be teacher appreciation week, and I normally react to official awareness events like they're spiders in my bathtub. But in this case, it's a good reminder that a very tough school year is winding to a close. So:

If you're a student, take a minute, use an old-fashioned sheet of paper and write your teacher a thank-you.

If you're a soon-to-be-grad, think over your time in school and the teachers who stand out in your memory. Let them know. Include specific memories. Funny is good. Most teachers have a sense of humor.

If you're a parent, you may empathize with a friend who posted this note on Facebook:
"Teacher Appreciation Week should not require eighty eleven emails with multiple step directives and a spreadsheet. (Signed), She Who Does Not Enjoy Buying Flowers at 6:30 a.m. Before School." I'm willing to bet that if your child hands over a personal note it will mean more than all the official hoopla. And if your child attends a school that doesn't do flowers and festivities, it will mean even more.

And if you're an adult, parent or not, remember that it may not be too late to say thanks to the teachers who shaped your life. Social media and the Internet make it easier than ever to track folks down. My high school closed long ago, but I found my journalism teacher just before he retired from another district and let him know I remembered him fondly and had gone on to earn a living in the field.

Over Christmas break, longtime Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher Glenda Blaisdell-Buck told me what a great time she'd had talking to a former student from Independence High in the 1990s. "He's one of those kids that you feel privileged to have taught," she said. Like many CMS teachers, she's often felt exhausted by the challenges of urban education. Hearing the young man enthuse about what she'd taught him infused her with energy.

"You just think, 'Why am I doing this?' " she said. "That's why."

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Deer Teecha,

If I eva meecha

On da streecha

I gonna be reecha.

blpadge2 said...

Hearing the young man enthuse about what she'd taught him infused her with energy.

"You just think, 'Why am I doing this?' " she said. "That's why."

Those three sentences more than any words in the world sum up the joy of teaching. Those 3 sentences sum up a teachers impact more than any pay for performance scheme.

jon golden said...

I like this idea better than what was expected at Davidson IB. Each student was given a list of things to buy for his teacher. A list? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to my first grade teacher who taught me to hate math with her condescending attitude. Thanks to my second grade teacher who taught me proper grammer with phrases like “you should have done axe me when you homeworks was done due”. Thanks to my third grade teacher who made it plain that teaching was just a hobby while she washed her golf clubs in the class sink. Thanks to my fourth grade teacher who was wonderful and dedicated. Thanks to my fifth grade teacher who taught me “dat you needs to be raising you hands before you be axing a quess-shun”. Thanks to my sixth grade teacher who was wonderful and dedicated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the effort Ann. I'll take these four comments as representative of the community at large and Pete's version of career teacher ethnic cleansing. Davidson IB is not the real world.

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

My mother, not a teacher, taught me to read. I was reading before I even went to kindergarten. I ended up helping other students in the first grade because my teacher was too lazy to do it herself. I remember all my teachers being unmotivated and the 2nd grade teacher was hellbent on making me use my right hand to write instead of my left. Teaching as a profession is way overrated. It's just a job, just like anyone else's job. I've never understood why they are held up to be such sacred cows, especially in this economy. I don't hold any fondness for my teachers, because they didn't care about me. All they wanted was a paycheck, and it showed.

Anonymous said...

Our PTA asked us to fill out a survey of our "favorites" last week. One day the students were to bring our favorite candy, beverage, etc. I have received several of each this week. Today they were to bring in our favorite flower or draw a picture of a flower.

One student printed out a coloring sheet of a flower, colored it in and gave one to each of my team (special area) members. She was SO VERY EXCITED to give it to us that she seemed about to burst. Her enthusiasm in giving put such a smile on our faces and we agreed -- that alone makes it worth coming back in tomorrow. Forget the chocolates, beverages and other stuff. Just show some sincerity and enthusiasm!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ann for this suggestion! As a teacher I love receiving kind notes from students. It feels so great to be appreciated. I keep my favorite cards and read them at the beginning of each school year to get excited about teaching a new class.

Anonymous said...

Dear Eric Osterling (Bandology),
Thanks for being the best band teacher ever (grades 7 - 12).

Dear Coach,
Thanks for being the best girl's coach ever (grades 7 -12).

Dear Mrs. Albright,
Thanks for giving me a C+ in Chemistry. I know darn well the (+) was for effort.

Dear Mrs. Stowe,
Thanks for being my favorite teacher of all time! (grade 6)

Dear Educational Center for the Arts (magnet high school),
Thanks for existing and thanks to the entire state of CT, the city of New Haven and surrounding public school districts for continuing to support this school which to this day continues to shape and significantly impact my life 30 years later.

Dear CMS,
Thanks to some of the most awesome teachers my kids ever had while attending here. You gave it your all, you did your best and you are still some of the best. I have no regrets about putting my children's education in your hands. My oldest was accepted into his first college choice. You did something right.

Dear Charlotte private school,
Ditto; plus thanks for some needed stability, continuity, sense of community and peace.

Dear CMS School Board(s),
Thank yourselves because, for once, I'm at a loss for words.

Dear Ann,
Spiders in your bathtub? Gee, thanks for this image.

micaela said...

I helped my 1st grader make a card for his teacher this morning. I asked him to draw his teacher doing whatever is my son's favorite class activity. So he drew his teacher playing soccer with the class (something he does at least once a week), and wrote "You are the best! THANK YOU for everything you do!"

I correspond with this teacher via email on a regular basis and, at least every other email, I try to let him know how grateful we are for his hard work & how much my son adores him.

Alejandrajpwj said...

Thanks for the effort Ann. I'll take these four comments as representative of the community at large and Pete's version of career teacher ethnic cleansing. Davidson IB is not the real world.

Eon said...

My mother, not a teacher, taught me to read. I was reading before I even went to kindergarten. I ended up helping other students in the first grade because my teacher was too lazy to do it herself. I remember all my teachers being unmotivated and the 2nd grade teacher was hellbent on making me use my right hand to write instead of my left. Teaching as a profession is way overrated. It's just a job, just like anyone else's job. I've never understood why they are held up to be such sacred cows, especially in this economy. I don't hold any fondness for my teachers, because they didn't care about me. All they wanted was a paycheck, and it showed.