National Teacher’s Day offers moment for pause and applause

Teachers do so much more than teach academic skills. They listen to joys and sorrows, dry tears, and make tough phone calls.  More than most they are role models; their every move, word, and action is observed and (often) repeated.

Any time of the year is an outstanding time to thank a teacher, but Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8, and offers a super opportunity, especially with the school year drawing to a close.  This year Tuesday, May 5, is designated National Teacher’s Day. What a great time to give your child’s teacher a big round of applause for all she or he does.

The National Education Association, sponsor of the annual recognition event, suggests, “Teachers give us so much. And though we know we can’t ever thank them enough, we can take a moment during National Teacher Week to share our appreciation for the special educators in our lives.” NEA is collaborating with the National PTA to sponsor a “Thank You” campaign on social media. Ten randomly selected individuals will win a $100 gift card for giving to their favorite teacher. The website also offers downloadable art, graphics, poster, and thank-you sign to use locally.

For children’s optimal learning, parents and teachers need to rely on and support one another. A couple years ago, in  “What Teachers Wish Parents Knew,” journalist Katie Couric, observed that “As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village,’ and teachers and parents working together create a stronger, more supportive learning environment.”

Expanding on that theme is Paula Kay Glass, who has a master’s degree in education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and is certified in Early Childhood Education and School Counseling. Founder of a private elementary school and author of the children’s book The Big, Blue Tractor, Glass has been teaching for 19 years. She recently wrote a post for The Educator’s Room, titled “Engaging Parents from Home to School.” In it she suggests that “Many people view today’s education as starting and stopping in the classroom. Learning is an ongoing process and needs to continue from the classroom to home and back again.”

She adds, “But parents tell me all the time they don’t know how to ‘teach’ their children, forgetting they were their child’s first teacher.” She proceeds to describe projects she sends home with kids, designed to involve parents/families in supporting and extending multi-subject classroom lessons.

In further testament to the learning that goes on outside school walls is Lee-Ann Meredith, who taught second grade in Chicago Public Schools for 15 years and authored the book Angels in My Classroom: How Second Graders Saved My Life, the story of how her young students helped keep her going after her husband’s unexpected death.  Valerie Strauss, who covers education and hosts the Answer Sheet blog for the Washington Post, with Meredith’s permission, recently republished her column first published on The Educator’s Room website titled “Eight Things Teachers Want You to Know About Them.”

Of teachers, Meredith writes, “We are communicators, quick decision makers, and creative problem solvers.” In speaking of the prioritizing and triage that goes on daily in classrooms across the country, she graphically and humorously notes, “…blood trumps everything, even vomit.” Coarse though it is, the image reminds us that teachers deal with much more than reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. She also notes that although teachers often feel isolated in their classrooms they are passionate about kids, with many teachers viewing it as a calling vs. a career.

That’s why Teacher Appreciation Week offers a special chance to say, “Thank you!” to the educators and “creative problem solvers” in your child’s life and learn more about how you can work together.