This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. It is a time to reflect on those teachers who have raised our nation’s children and show our gratitude for their efforts. As a parent I help organize breakfasts, lunches and/or treats to recognize my children’s teachers. As a union member I helped to create candy baskets for each school in our district. As an educator, I am also the recipient of many tasty treats laid out in the staff room. As a coach I try to recognize staff members with notes, emails or treats to let them know I notice and I appreciate the hard work they put in every single day to educate their students.
This year I want to recognize and appreciate the acts of teachers I have observed over the past year or so that make me feel proud to be considered in the same company as these educators. Some may seem subtle or insignificant, but they reflect the deep caring, empathy and collaboration that cumulatively build a strong climate of compassion and kindness that makes coming to work a joy. So here are 25 Inspiring Acts of Teacherdom (in no particular order) that I have witnessed and that I am appreciative of this week.
25 Inspiring Acts of Teacherdom
- Responding to email requests for bean bags, white sharpies, yogurt cups, curling ribbon or 20 assorted balls… no matter who asks or what the reason. You show that hoarding has a positive side to it!
- Volunteering to cover a colleague’s class so they can make a 3:00 appt to their child’s school or to a doctor. You let that colleague know that you see them as a person with a life outside of teaching-the way we all want to be seen.
- Running off a colleague’s photocopies for them when their planning time ends long before their planning. You demonstrate empathy for the time constraints we all feel.
- Checking all the paper trays in that photocopier for a teacher frustrated by the 43rd paper jam that morning. You share all those tricky ‘hiding places’ and build our schema around jams.
- Taking that student into your own class when they need a ‘time out’ and reassuring them that they just need a break without shaming them. You create more caring contacts for that child in his/her life.
- Meeting with a coach or colleague to explore ways to meet students’ needs. You understand that collaboration is a strength, not a sign of weakness.
- Coming to staff meetings at the end of a long day with a smile and open mind. Your positive approach establishes a precedence that being enthusiastic isn’t wack!
- Talking quietly with a upset or agitated student-out of the earshot of others. You respect his dignity as much as your authority.
- Asking that question that everyone else was thinking without sarcasm or frustration. You realize understanding comes from better communication.
- Saying ‘thank you’ to someone in front of others to acknowledge a kind act and spread that sense of gratitude.
- Talking about your ‘mistakes’ in a humorous and reflective way. You humanize the teaching process and support the concept of lifelong learning.
- Taking an unexpected recess duty when it isn’t even your turn. You exemplify the image of team player when the needs of the team are something you respect enough to make a personal sacrifice of precious time and energy!
- Making eye contact and addressing people you pass in the hallway. You make teachers, custodians, students and parents ‘visible’ by acknowledging their presence with your attention. Your smile says, “I see you.”
- Laughing with your students. You aren’t afraid that humor or joy will break down some wall of authority. You know that laughter connects us to others in a unique way and says, “I’m with you!”
- Posting student work with “look fors”. You direct our attention to the strategies and effort your students have worked on so that we can focus our attention on the learning process and by-pass all those other ‘teachable moments’.
- Reading to your students with passion. You use voices and expression and enthusiasm to bring that book to life for your children. You make them want to read!
- Bringing a treat into the teachers room for no particular reason. You never underestimate the power of pampering others to elevate mood!
- Taking pictures of your students engaged in their classwork. You document the learning environment and celebrate the work they do by capturing and sharing it.
- Coming to book studies and PLCs after a full day of work. Sharing ideas and building new knowledge with others is important to your growth as a teacher. You truly have a growth mindset!
- Organizing collections for colleagues facing hard times. You don’t mind taking on a little extra responsibility to help make life a little easier for someone else.
- Countering gossip with something positive. It’s hard to speak up and be seen as “Pollyanna” but there are a lot of people who are silently grateful that you did. That takes courage.
- Bringing in tadpoles, or chrysalises, or hamsters into your classroom. You know that life cycles can be read about, but experiencing them first hand has a power all its own. (and often inspires more reading and writing!)
- Being a good listener. You don’t brush off, discount, or immediately “solve” someone’s problem. You seek to understand what is at the heart of what they are saying and what they are needing. You give them time to fill that void of silence as fully as they need to.
- Complementing other staff members for their efforts and accomplishments. You can be genuinely happy for the recognition others receive without feeling left out and you model what that looks like!
- Balancing competing needs in life. You bring energy and passion to your classroom while raising your own children (or attending to the demands of aging parents). You express your feelings honestly, but don’t wallow in self pity. You make it ok to not be perfect! When you share your journey filled with challenges and celebrations with us, you remind us that teachers are human beings, too, not widgets in an educational system. You remind us that we are all seeking answers to the question, “why are we here?”
I know there are many more than 25 Inspiring Acts that I have witnessed this year, and no one person embodies all of these actions. I am lucky that I get to work with and witness so many teachers in action every week. I can testify to the fact that we all should truly take some time to appreciate teachers this week…our colleagues, our children’s teachers, ourselves.
What Inspiring Acts have you observed that make you grateful?
What’s on my Book Radar?
Am I the only person on the planet who has yet to start this series? I bought my son a copy for Christmas and haven’t yet gotten around to starting it until this week. Something about dystopian worlds where teens are in charge that are very appealing to me! Love the way James Dashner peels away layers to help orient the reader through the confused eyes of the main character, Thomas. The questions he poses to the boys of the glade mirror our own wonderings. Haven’t yet finished, but I can tell this is going to be a very fast read as I am already devouring chapter after chapter.
Oh, and I guess it is going to be a feature film in September-so this could be a great summer reading hook for tweens and teens!