The Perfect Teacher Appreciation Gift

Eight years old boy presenting flowers, perhaps he is trying to say sorry or its Mothers DayNo gifts for teacher appreciation week

I have a simple (or maybe not so simple) request for teacher appreciation week.  I would like to be trusted.  I was recently awarded a fellowship that offers both time and quite a lot of money for my school.  At a recent dinner they planned to honor new and past fellows, I found myself feeling nervous.  I shared with my partner that I wasn’t nervous about the short presentation but rather because I had been entrusted with this amazing responsibility.  It was an unusual feeling to have someone put so much faith in me as an educator.  I don’t have to fill out mountains of paperwork.  I can change my mind about how I will spend the money.  If my district questions me, the foundation will support my decisions.  It has also been an incredible motivator because I do not want to let these amazingly generous people down.  I intend to do something outstanding.

Trust us

Trust that we have the best interest of kids in mind

Trust that we are using our time wisely

Trust that we will get our responsibilities completed

Trust that we are not skirting responsibilities

Trust that we are not in this for the summer vacations

Unless we prove otherwise, most of us can be trusted to do our jobs well and to make professional decisions.  We are professionals.  A mug, a pin, a gift card, and baked goods are some common teacher appreciation gifts but most of us really just want to be recognized for being the creative and hard working teachers we are, not with a gift, but with some faith.

 

We are not an eighties movie
If you grew up in the 1980’s ( and maybe even if you didn’t), you might have a rather skewed vision of the teaching profession; the history teacher in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Mr. Hand from Fast TImes at Ridgemont High or Mr. Vernon, the disillusioned principal from The Breakfast Club; Sometimes I wonder if people truly believe these stereotypical portrayals of educators. We are not like that in real life.  Most of us work during the summer because we are really only paid for 185 days of the year.  Teaching is complicated and requires a lot more than running off a few copies here and there.  Most of us are not able to complete all our preparations in a single daily prep.  We are working hard after school hours and on the weekends to make sure that students have meaningful learning experiences and get timely feedback on their work.  Most of us are happy to do that because we are in it for the right reasons.  The frustration comes when the systems and structures in place assume the worst. Trust that we will be exceptional and we will be exceptional.  The need for accountability can be balanced with teacher autonomy.  What is one thing that would make you feel like your district trusted you as a teacher?

For more research supporting these ideas, check out Professional Capital by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.  A brief description is located in the book recommendations section of this site.