As the school year draws to a close, I can't help but think about teachers - especially since I now have three teachers in my immediate family. My oldest son, Travis, teaches 6-8 grades at a bilingual charter school in Salt Lake City. My oldest daughter, Tara, teaches second grade in Kaysville, and my daughter-in-law Shayla (Wade's wife) teaches first grade in Ogden.
When my children were younger, I "appreciated" their teachers. I was grateful that these kind, patient souls took them into their classrooms for 7 hours a day and did their best to mold my children's young minds and teach them things that they needed to know. I was a Room Mother for one of my children every single year for 13 straight years as they made their way through JP Stewart Elementary School. I volunteered in the computer lab, served on the PTA board, chaperoned on field trips, manned the face-painting booth during 4th Grade Rendezvous, and provided the requisite Christmas and Teacher Appreciation gifts for my children to present to their teachers each year. But did I really APPRECIATE those teachers? Sadly, I have come to realize that I did not.
As I have watched my adult children obtain their education in preparation to teach, I have been impressed by the level of committment and effort it takes to become a teacher. I now appreciate that these people are highly trained to provide a well-rounded, quality education for the students they teach. I appreciate that many of these teachers seek additional training and advanced degrees in order to provide even richer educational opportunities and experiences for their students.
I have watched as my teachers have prepared their classrooms, largely at their own expense, purchasing bulletin board materials, maps, posters, flags, new and used books, pencil boxes, and numerous other teaching aids. I now appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into creating a pleasant, stimulating learning environment.
I listen when, at family gatherings, my teachers discuss lesson plans, websites for teaching ideas, discipline strategies and other teaching-related topics with one another. And of course, there is always someone correcting papers, grading, or working on visual aids for an upcoming lesson. I truly appreciate how much non-contract time teachers spend doing their jobs.
I appreciate my teachers' concern for their students, as they ask my advice on dealing with a difficult or troubled child, or just express their frustration when all the techniques they try just don't seem to work.
I wish that I had had this type of appreciation for my children's teachers when they were in school.
Of course, I realize that there are teachers out there who could be described in less glowing terms. I know that our education system is far from perfect and that there is always room for improvement. But from my perspective, I think it's pretty darn good for public education and I also think that there are more teachers out there like the three I have just described than there are "bad" teachers.
So to all you parents out there who have children in elementary and middle school, please appreciate your child's teacher. Send them a thank you note or an email. And if you can afford it, give them a gift card to a restaurant, office supply, craft or school supply store. Donate books and materials to their classroom. It all makes a difference - to both the teachers and their students.
Mrs. Steed's FairyTale Puppet Show
(I wish I had pictures of Travis and
Tara in their classrooms!)