3 Common Misconceptions About Teacher Appreciation Week

This week marks the annual “gift fest” for teachers throughout the country. Now, if that sentence sounds a bit cynical, it is not meant to be. On the contrary; I love teachers and everything they have to offer.

What I don’t love, is that parents and the Parent Teacher Student Organizations (PTSO) wait until this very week, when the school year is about to be finished, to “honor” this group of men and women who have given their best to teach, support and guide our little ones.

This team effort to praise with fancy luncheons, sweet treats, apple trinkets, or coffee mugs, is a nice gesture and one that is expected every year. Not that there is anything wrong with this, it’s just the way it is. In fact, most PTSO’s actually budget for this annual event.

There are three misconceptions about this week that many people, teachers and parents alike, do not realize and if they do, are not comfortable bringing it to the table–no pun intended.

First

The first misconception is the idea that for this particular week of the school year, we appreciate and respect our teacher’s so much that each must be spoiled and pampered. After all, they are our students’ fearless leader and we should make every effort to show our appreciation and gratitude.The irony is that for the remainder of the year and the weeks leading up to this ultimate celebration, teachers are not really very appreciated. As in the 2013 case of stripping tenure rights, in which North Carolina teachers had their tenure revoked and held for ransom only to be handed it back by way of the Supreme Court. Now, these teachers are asking for respect to be restored to their profession. Another case where teachers are subject to the “on again, off again” salary, is in Detroit where budget shortfalls are so bad, teachers might not get paid for hours already worked. Not so appreciative to the teachers who must fight these legal challenges all while teaching their classes and taking care of their own families. So, we should make a fuss about our teachers’ this week, because the rest of the school year seems to stink.

Second

The second misconception is the thought that parents are “off the hook” the rest of the year, because of the enormous amount of effort that piles into this weeks’ planning. For example, parents donate gift cards, serve lunch and local media outlets recognize a variety of teacher’s for their accomplishments and contributions; such fanfare and hype. Unfortunately, for some parents, this weeks’ quick donation relieves them from any direct interaction with their own child’s teacher; kind of a “one and done” type donation. Volunteering is a fantastic way for parents to stay close to their children and this type of week-long recognition is definitely needed. However, teachers need support all throughout the year. While not all parents are able to participate, working parents might find that a simple email to say, “Thank you for teaching my child” or hand delivered classroom supplies speak volumes; especially when given by surprise during at least one of the academic quarters.

Third

The last misconception is the idea that teachers have smaller salaries, take work home, and spend their hard-earned cash in the classroom. While this might be true, budgets cuts are obvious and many classrooms feel the pinch, but this is their chosen profession. Teachers do have huge responsibilities while taking care of our young ones, and at the same time, meeting curriculum standards. One benefit is that teachers have summers and holidays off, paid medical insurance, and a retirement plan. Before anybody wants to send me up the river, I am one of the few that truly appreciates the value of my child’s teachers’ and I also understand the challenges they are up against. But waiting until this particular week to say “Thank you” or piling on the  gifts because the teachers might be “poor” seems contrived and fake.

This celebratory week is fueled by the arrogance of a few “do-gooders” who want to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Regardless of their motivations, school volunteers and the PTSO work hard; all parents should join. The truth is teachers’ should be celebrated and respected all year-long. I can’t think of a better way to “honor” these professionals than to send a simple card saying, “Thank you for teaching my child.” Luncheons and gift cards are a nice treat, but if parents really want their child’s teacher to feel valued, then they should communicate this appreciation regularly with words and a smile.

After all, how much “apple jewelry” can one person really wear?

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