Please forgive me for being the Grinch of Teacher Appreciation Week.
It’s not because I never had a great teacher in my life. I have had three: Wayne Brasler, Mark Grady, and Mrs. Pratt. High school, law school and third grade.
Those three people taught me things I use every day at work and in life. (I’m 49 now so that’s a lot of days!) I revere them for their passion, intelligence and the way they pushed me. They gave me the courage to believe in myself and the skills to justify the belief.
So why would I appreciate them for only one week a year?
In fact, a mere week of appreciation depreciates the value of an educated citizenry, something all Americans should celebrate with gusto and regularity.
Instead, we should be elevating the profession on a daily basis. We should value teachers’ expertise both inside and outside the classroom. We should ask them what they need to succeed versus telling them how they will be punished when they fail.
That is real appreciation.
How would that work? At VIVA, we’re asking teachers to take responsibility for big picture problems, to work together to come up with solutions that work for students, teachers and the system overall.
Classroom teachers in places as disparate as Chicago, Minnesota and Arizona have responded. They have delivered their ideas to public officials who have responded by forging a new kind of partnership with classroom teachers, one in which policies are forged based on teachers’ classroom expertise.
That is how we believe teachers should be appreciated.
So, yes, this week I send a special shout out to Mr. Brasler, Mr. Brady, and Mrs. Pratt. But, I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with extraordinary, ordinary classroom teachers week after week after week.
VIVA Teachers is all about teacher appreciation. My wish for Teacher Appreciation Week is that we all listen more closely and appreciate much more what teachers have to say. Every week of the year.