It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and today, in particular, my eyes have been opened to the severe inadequacy of the title of this week.
Let’s start with the fact that I volunteered for lunch duty today so the Teachers at our school could grab a few extra quiet moments in honor of this special week. For two-and-a-half hours I watched (and HEARD) 500+ students shuffle in and out of the cafeteria. I opened approximately 20 juice boxes, 17 tubes of yogurt, and 6 cups of fruit – 4 of which squirted juice in my face. I answered 6,483 questions – the majority of which were pretty random, reminded 172 to use their “walking feet,” and gave permission I-don’t-even-know-how-many-times for someone to use the bathroom. I came home EXHAUSTED.
The kids at our school are GREAT kids… They listen really well and are quite polite – even the scary fifth graders who look like they could be in college! But as I watched them all come through that cafeteria, I realized how many different personalities and needs our teachers deal with on a DAILY basis. There are kids that need extra attention and kids that want to be left alone; kids that are funny and kids that are shy; kids you can be silly with and kids that need straight answers; kids that need a hug or a high-five or the “I mean business” stare… and our Teachers are able to dish those out… on demand… to the exact kid that needs that exact interaction. “Teacher” ?!?! I think not. Let’s go with “Mind-reading Personality-deciphering Super-human”. It’s a little wordy, but much more accurate.
Back to my cafeteria experience: let me point out my responsibilities included keeping the children from injuring themselves or others and trying to keep the noise level at a minimum. My co-Lunch Duty volunteer and I decided to just focus on the first responsibility and let the noise level go a little bit. I mean, priorities.
Our Teachers have responsibilities that BLOW MY MIND! They teach those kids to read and write and add and multiply and how to find the area/volume/circumference (which I may or may not have forgotten). They teach history and science and art and music and P.E. They teach how to stand in line and keep your hands to yourself. They teach how to cope when someone says or does something unkind. They teach that life isn’t always fair. They teach cooperation, patience, perseverance, self-control, integrity, kindness, selflessness, determination, dedication, generosity, friendship, love. How do they prioritize those?! “Teacher” is an understatement. “Developer of Brain, Body, and Spirit” is more like it.
Let’s also not forget that these Teachers have lives outside the school halls and classrooms. They are spouses, parents, pet-owners, mortgage-payers, schedule-jugglers, budget-balancers, hobby-havers, and so much more. I know a good number of our Teachers are blazing through real-life challenges and curve-balls right now, but they continue to show-up for our kids. “Teacher”…. Pffft. “Tough-as-Nails Focused Fighter”… that barely covers it, but it’s the best I could do in a pinch.
Teacher Appreciation Week, eh? Appreciation?! You know what I appreciate? When someone holds the door for me or let’s me scoot in front of them in traffic. For the Teachers… I am indebted to them, astounded by them, in awe of them, and yes, thankful for them. For a week?! No way! FOR. EVER. AND. EVER.
One afternoon of Lunch Duty has led me to announcing: