Thursday, May 5, 2022

Appreciating Teachers In May

There's a certain irony in parking teacher appreciation in the Month of May when teachers are absolutely hammered and don't even have five minutes to run to the teacher lounge and pick up one of those celebratory donuts that the administration brought.

I remember most of my Mays, when the gauzy September promise of "Here are the things we'll get done sometime this year" burned away under a harsh sun of "There are now sixteen class periods left in which to handle this list of 157 objectives." I was never one to count down the days, but I did sit down by May 1 to plot out exactly what I would aim for every day left in the year. Every time the office would announce some event to interrupt the flow of the days, meaning I would lose a period (or fifteen minutes out of it) I would curse and, like a cranky educational GPS, start recalculating.

So maybe it makes sense to appreciate teachers now, when they are up against it, trying to convince students that there are, in fact, more school days left even though the Big Standardized Test just finished. Maybe teachers need that extra boost during May, when only teachers are praying for cold, miserable days that do not make students shift into summer gear. Maybe now, as everyone is lurching toward the finish line, particularly in this pretend-post-pandemic year (which, according to most of my teacher friends, is actually worse than last year), is the perfect time to holler some attagirls at teaching staffs.

But many times, I have wondered if a teacher appreciation week in September would be far better.

It's nice to hear "Ya did good" at the end of a run, but a hearty "Thanks for showing up to take this on. We'll be with you every step of the way," would be great, too. Being appreciated at the end of your run is a nice thing, an expression that people think you did a good job. Appreciation at the start shows some trust and confidence without waiting around to make sure you really did do a good job. 

There's never a bad time to appreciate teachers, particularly in the current climate. Teachers, we hear repeatedly, are commie-sympathizing, child-indoctrinating, enemies of the state who got into the profession either because they hate children and America (or for darker purposes). The current atmosphere can make Teacher Appreciation Week ring a little hollow. 

At this point, teachers are keenly aware of just how much they are appreciated (or not). From gag laws to stagnating wages, appreciation has been shown. And while it may seem like ages ago to the culture at large, for teachers it has not been that long since the fifteen minutes of You're All Heroes praise was replaced with You're Our Servants--Get Back In There. As various memes point out, you know who doesn't have appreciation weeks-- people who are well paid and respected year round.

If the school year is people throwing tomatoes at you every day, Teacher Appreciation Day in May is someone handing you a hand towel. How much better if, in September, someone handed you a raincoat and an umbrella. Instead of saying, "Sorry that happened," how much nicer to get a pledge of "We are going to work to make sure it doesn't happen in the coming year."

Any teacher appreciation is better than no teacher appreciation. Some appreciation in September would be nice. Appreciation all year round would be great. 

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