Yesterday, I checked in on a Facebook group, an alumni page devoted to people who attended my high school. Along with catch-up chit chat and reunion info, someone posted a comment about our former math teachers. Responses show teachers do make a difference. So many years after we had all moved on, fellow grads still recall people who worked to make them math literate. In my case, that was a task of mythical proportions. Think Sisyphus. God love Mr. Roy Rich who gave me confidence to challenge/train my left brain to master both logic and geometric proofs.
Teachers Make a Difference
We all know them. They are the people who taught us to share and to wait our turns. They are the people who gave us the magic of reading, music, numbers, history, art and the value of fair play. They are the people who may not have loved us unconditionally as our parents did, but who none the less labored to make us our best.
Everyone can name their favorite teachers. Most of us can name our best teachers, too. They weren’t always the sweetest, the prettiest, the gentlest, the funniest, or the easiest teachers, either. Kids don’t always see that. As adults, however, we know better. We know that sometimes, the tough teachers– the ones who challenge us, who force our reach to exceed our grasp—are among the finest.
Now we need a public service ad
If we all know them, if we all can name them, then why do we need this:
Ads like these run on my local network affiliates: teachers featured in thirty-second sound bytes reassuring viewers that they do indeed work hard, love kids, and know their content. Is that what teachers have been reduced to doing to assert their worth? Really?
Rationally, I totally get it. It is in our own best interest to publicly share the great work we do. I understand that we must be proactive. Education has become part of the political fabric of the country in ways most of us never considered when we were studying pedagogy and child development.
Most teachers are not political animals. Most of us simply want to continue what we do best: teach. Yet, we seem to be forced into the fray, particularly during these challenging economic times. Tenure, pensions, living wages seem to be what outsiders resent most about teachers. So, I understand the need to self promote.
But, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Part of me still finds it offensive. (It’s that right brain again hindering rational thought!) I wonder why we need to show and tell so much. Is this our our Sally Field moment? We want them to like us, really, really like us? Watching television ads makes me feel that our profession has been somehow been cheapened, reduced to the same slick advertising copy used to hawk the latest electronic consumer good.
Like a teacher, today
The teachers I know are professionals. They take their jobs very seriously, well aware of the responsibility. They have earned advanced degrees. They work within a network of lifelong learners who share the vision of effective education as essential to the common good.
Teacher Appreciation Day has come and gone. But it’s still OK to “like” a teacher today.