Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week?

My son reminded me that this is Teacher Appreciation Week.  Not directly--but he blogs for Innovation Ohio (Link), and he mentioned it in his post yesterday.

I did a little (only a little) research on the subject and learned that it's been a PTA-sponsored event only since 1984, my fifteenth year in the classroom.  I don't recall that the community where I taught did much about it ... were there little treats in our faculty mailboxes?  Something like that?  For the kids, it was pretty much a non-event.

I think there's a Teacher Appreciation Day, too.  May 8 this year.

I'm fighting the impulse to be cynical about all of this.  It all reminds me of what that wonderful cowboy-comedian-social commentator-journalist (and fellow Sooner) Will Rogers once said about Mother's Day--also approaching: He talked about how it must  have been someone with a "hurting conscience" who thought up the idea for a day--"and in return," quipped Rogers, "Mother gives you the other 364."  (Here's an audio link to Rogers on Mother's Day: Will Rogers on Mother's Day 1935)

I showed very little appreciation for my teachers when I was in school  Probably none, actually.  Sure, there were some who deserved little appreciation--people who were there for the paycheck, for the job security.  It was obvious who they were; they might as well have been wearing T-shirts bearing the message in bold letters: THIS IS MY JOB, NOT MY PROFESSION, NOT MY PASSION.

But I had other wonderful teachers--many of them--from kindergarten through graduate school.  And all of those wonderful teachers of mine had at least one thing in common: I never let any of them know how I felt about them.  Not directly.

Later on, I did have the chance to tell some--and I have done so in this blog, too.  Several are now Facebook friends.  But others have passed away ...

When I was teaching, there were always some very thoughtful parents--from my very first year--who let me know they were pleased with what I was doing in class with their kids.  (This was remarkable: Early in my career I had little idea what I was doing from one day to the next--hell, from one moment to the next.)  And there were the other sorts of parents, too--the ones who were never satisfied.  Some became downright antagonistic, and my conferences with them (and phone calls and correspondence) remain fixed in my memory like severe injuries.

Many students I've had over the years--especially with the advent of Facebook--have told me some kind things.  Many were good about doing that when they were children, too--far, far better than I was at their age.

So I guess what I'd offer about Teacher Appreciation Week is this: We all need to be humble.  And grateful.  Sometimes we are guilty of taking credit for our virtues and achievements, of blaming others for our weaknesses and failures.  We think, in some ways, that we invented ourselves--as if we scooped up our own clay, breathed into in the breath of life.  We didn't.

I was born into a family so wonderful, so supportive, that, really, I should take no personal credit for anything.  About all I could have done was screw it all up--which, from time to time, I did. 

I went to good schools and had mostly good teachers (with a handful of duds and a handful of superstars mixed in).  Some inspired me, amused me, terrified me, abused me (not many), bored me, challenged me, ignored me, angered me, puzzled me, loved me.  And I was never the easiest puppy in the litter to deal with.

So be humble today (every day, if you can manage it).  Give credit to your genes, your family, your community, your good fortune.  And, yes, your teachers .

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