Covering parenting and child development issues
“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” (John F. Kennedy)
Thanks to Facebook, I know that today is World Teachers Day. I didn’t know that. I also didn’t know that thanks to UNESCO, it’s been around since 1994.
What I do know is that a day - even a relatively unknown one - that encourages us to take time to appreciate teachers is a great idea. I have a bias, of course - I spent 27 years as an elementary school educator - and I know firsthand that good teachers invest nearly as much in their students as parents do in their children.
A good teacher goes beyond teaching. She inspires. She understands. He nudges, prods and pushes toward a higher level of thinking and achievement.
She sees beyond the expectations of the tests and into the hearts of the children that enter her classroom, offering a hug here, a pretzel there and a comprehension always that a child cannot perform in the classroom - or anywhere - when his struggles are bigger than he is.
A good teacher sees the gem hidden away in the child who can’t read, the artist buried within the child who can’t spell and the career potential of the underachiever who would rather crack jokes than get caught turning in his homework.
I can honestly say that the teachers I worked with inspired me as much as my own teachers did. As an adult looking at the profession from the inside, I quickly discovered that good teachers see their profession of choice as a calling, not simply a paycheck or an excuse to have summers “off.” Most of the teachers I have known spend their summers perfecting their craft, and when they take those rare summers off, most of them do it to be with their own families.
As parents, we don’t get days off, nor do we get paid - not in money, anyway - and yet we continue to do our job. We recognize that our children are priceless and unique even when they are driving us crazy, and we love them anyway. As their first teachers, we offer them love and afford them respect in the hope that they will understand that they deserve nothing less in return.
The greatest hope we have as parents is that our children’s teachers will see what we see in our children, will encourage them to recognize their potential, and will take them beyond reading, writing and ‘rithmetic to the intangibles that make them not just better students, but better people.
As a parent, I’ve been blessed to have these kinds of teachers for my daughter throughout elementary, middle and now high school - and I’m a tough sell. As an educator, I know what good teachers do, and I expect my daughter’s teachers to do no less. Fortunately, many have exceeded my expectations.
When your child gets a teacher who sees him as the amazing person you know him to be, sees his strengths and shortcomings and helps him to channel the strengths and strengthen the shortcomings, don’t forget to thank her. Thank her not only because she doesn’t have to do that, yet does it anyway, but also because thanks to her, your child has taken one - or more - steps toward becoming not just a better student, but the person you always wanted him to be.
And, while you’re at it, give yourself a pat on the back. Without you, your child’s teachers would have no one to work with. Together, you and your children’s teachers are the dream team your child needs to succeed.
Today is World Teachers’ Day, but any day is a good day to thank a teacher.