Normally, I am at best lukewarm about appreciation days, weeks and months. Mothers' Day is Sunday, and though I love being a mother to my children more than anything else in my life, I do not require much if anything on that actual day that I would not want, need, or expect on any other day. Whatever people would like to do to acknowledge that I am their mother, or the mother of their children, or whatever, is great, but I resist the idea that love can be heaped on during one day if that might cause mothers to be taken for granted in any way during the other 364 days of the year. I know you may not agree but whether or not you do, you get the idea.
In the past, both when I was a teacher and during the time I've been working with teachers in various ways, I have tended to regard teacher appreciation days/weeks similarly. I love celebrating teachers but prefer to spread out the love through the entire year. However, this year, when teachers everywhere including and especially Providence are not feeling much love at all, every day and week should be devoted to appreciating teachers. Therefore, during this week, which through whatever marketing powers that be has been designated Teacher Appreciation Week on a national scale, I am grateful for the opportunity to say thank you to our teachers for your commitment to our children.
Earlier this week, in order to make my good will tangible, I made a donation to help a Providence teacher through Donors Choose. Click here to see the 36 requests that PPSD teachers have made. Pick one or two, and donate a little or a lot. Do it now.
Of course, teachers deserve far more than a week of token acknowledgement or token donations to fund basic classroom needs. You deserve to be honored and supported, to have the opportunity for professional achievement and recognition, to have adequate if not excellent materials and working conditions in place to be able to focus on the real work in front of you, which is knowing our kids well in order to support and challenge them. As a parent, I rely on you to care for my children as thinkers, workers, and whole human beings, and I am immeasurably grateful for your dedication, persistence, and skills.
Many parent-teacher organizations celebrate their schools' teachers in all kinds of ways. At my kids' school (Providence's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School), the PTO cooks and serves an annual luncheon to teachers. This year, our PTO President, Corey D. B. Walker, also created a proclamation that celebrates the work of teachers at King and throughout PPSD; it's the image below, which you can click on to see a larger version. May these words and the millions of other words of appreciation that have come the way of teachers this week transform into policies and practices that support teachers to do their best work as professionals day in and day out so that our kids--and all of us--can not just survive but thrive.