“Like” A Teacher Today

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.

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2 thoughts on ““Like” A Teacher Today

  1. Okay, this post really hit a chord. I can remember many of my teachers:
    Mrs. Carroll (3rd grade), who taught me how to be a responsible student by giving me her parakeet to care for; Ms. Raferrty (2nd grade), who taught me that despite physical handicaps, (she had lost the fingers of one of her hands) one could achieve; Mrs. Dickie, (5th grade) who taught me that practice makes perfect by having me recite my multiplication facts everyday until I had all 10 stars; and Mrs. Luckart (kindergarten) who taught me how to politely acknowledge others when called upon.

    Then there was Mr. Riga (11th grade) who ignited in me a respect for history and our forefathers through his engaging dialogues; Mr. Serico (10th grade), a social studies teacher who developed my study skills through his note taking process; Mr. Blackstone, my 12 grade science teacher who despite his idiosyncrasies inspired me to teach by allowing me to be his assistant.

    “Like” a teacher-I loved my teachers-I learned valuable lessons that still serve me well today. Interestingly, I remember most of the teachers who ushered me into the beginnings of my school years; and many of those who prepared me for exiting the academic world. My middle school teachers were wonderful; but their names do not come readily.
    Maybe it is because they are the “in between” teachers- stoically guiding us through our most turbulent years, but not the accepted role models for the socially conscious adolescent.

    As a middle school teacher, I feel the angst of these emerging teens, searching for independence, yet, yearning for acceptance. For this reason, we may not be on their “radar” and not cherished as elementary school teachers or respected as high school teachers. However, we are their safety net-the soft cushion that launches them into their final school years and the bridge that supports them in their most fluid time of life.

    Oh, yes-now I remember -Mrs. Getz,(7th-8th grade) who taught Home-Ec when it was okay to learn important life skills. Mrs. Getz taught us to create amazing gifts-and then donate our work to an orphanage. I learned the importance of selflessly giving to others and providing for the less fortunate. What a wonderful life lesson!

  2. Great post. If we really want to get into why teachers aren’t appreciated we have to look at it in a larger perspective that does involve politics, economics, and social/cultural issues. The easiest whipping boys are teachers because we work with all these kids whether they rise or fall. Plus we’re an easy target when kids fail and media plays a large role in that (even though I like the media).

    I’m in a town/district/area where teachers are pretty highly regarded, but we’re also about 30 miles away from the Chicago Public School where it seems like it is an all out war every day (and has been that way for a while). The contrast is incredible.

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