Like a birthday spent at the dentist’s office, this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week exists amid a surge of legislative halitosis and biting commentary designed to undermine teachers, and I believe, fellow teachers, that it is our right—even our obligation—to reclaim Teacher Appreciation Week by brushing off this orange plaque with a bit of bristly, humility-trumping candor.
Teachers, you work wonders. Each year, you give knowledge to hundreds of students, many of whom are initially uninterested in that knowledge (and some of whom actively avoid it). You craft lessons, create handouts, write recommendations, construct assessments, coach teams, attend games, buy supplies, meet parents, set up labs, read essays, hear complaints, grade assignments, grade more assignments, grade late assignments, and develop professionally, and you do it all while maintaining a classroom environment that welcomes, encourages, comforts, and challenges groups of students with various learning styles, emotional states, family circumstances, economic situations, sociopolitical beliefs, and proficiency levels. You work long, often unpaid hours, and you still find energy to make sad students smile and to push ornery students toward new realizations. Human beings are largely stubborn, single-minded creatures, and your job—you chalk-wielding magicians—is to coax adaptability, critical thought, and open-mindedness from the minds of newly hormonal individuals who spend inordinate amounts of time on YouTube.
And you do it. Like freakin’ superheroes, you do it every day for the better part of a year.
Bravo, teachers. Stand tall, walk proud, and belt Katy Perry’s “Roar” as loud you can whenever you have the opportunity. You are courageous. You are noble. In the Super Mario World game of life, you are the Cape Feather that gives others a chance to fly (for some reason).
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.