To start, receiving the food, nice cards and candy for Teacher Appreciation Week is great. It’s the nice thing to do for teachers who are shaping the minds of our future.
But let me be frank and to the point for those who are reading.
Returning to the classroom this year has shown me the real challenges teachers face daily. It’s different supporting teachers as an administrator who is outside of the classroom. The demands on teachers are extremely high! It’s a lot of pressure and several task on top of the major thing, managing and teaching children. So . . .
If You Really Want to Appreciate Teachers, Pay Us Our Worth!
To be honest, it’s like performing a major surgery 5-7 times a day depending on how many classes you teach. This doesn’t include before, during lunch, after-school tutorials and Saturday school. There are many teachers who aren’t able to take care of their own family and work part time jobs, sometimes two part time jobs to simply maintain.
I have experienced all sides of how a school functions this year—I’ve acted as a board chair, a school administrator and a classroom teacher. My biggest lesson I learned this year as a school leader is that you must consistently support, empower and train your teachers.
But the biggest challenge in supporting teachers is not underpaid/noncompetitive salaries. It’s the poor, rigid and even outdated policies set by school boards that harm the retention and satisfaction of the teachers in the profession.
School boards create the problems teachers face when they fail to realize how policies impact the culture and climate of how our schools run.
Recently at Ivy Prep—a nonprofit public charter school on whose board I sit—we passed a compensation policy and teacher salary schedule. After more than a decade, these policies hadn’t existed. But our head of schools gave us feedback on why teachers were leaving, and we knew something had to be done.
Appreciating teachers starts with listening to us. Teachers having to supply themselves with all the things needed to provide a quality education to over a hundred students and honestly most times providing supplies for the students too. Teachers shouldn’t be without supplies? That means we cannot perform the best for children if we don’t have the resources.
Think about it like this. Are surgeons going into the surgery rooms not prepped? Why aren’t we valuing the development of the human mind through education and moreover our children? We degrade educationand teachers daily as if it’s not one of the most important jobs in the world.
Teacher appreciation should be every day. It begins by school districts showing teachers that we matter through policies that support our work, not hinder. School leaders to empower, train and cultivate teachers, not serve as slave drivers. But most importantly, parents that partner with teachers to help ensure students succeed. Parents are like Robin in the Dynamic Duo.
If you really want to appreciate teachers, support us in ways that impact our well being and the success of our students.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.