Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 152: Appreciation

It's often easy to forget why we teach.  This job (career, profession) is incredibly difficult and can frequently feel thankless.

This week, however, we are inundated with notes, cards, memes and, apparently, cupcakes from students, parents and administrators reminding us that it's not a thankless job.

I arrived this morning to two notes in my mailbox from students.
I wonder if the second student thinks that I've died and been replaced by a body double...

During the day, another group was walking around giving out cupcakes to faculty to thank them for their hard and dedicated work.  A few of my current and former students made it a point to go out of their way today to find me and tell me how much they enjoy, or enjoyed, my class.

The majority of them have a tendency to talk about how much they didn't like the subject itself and, probably didn't learn any of said subject, but they loved my class.

Our faculty received several incredibly kind and heartfelt notes from our district and building administration this week.  I am deeply grateful for their messages and acknowledgements.  One line from a note today struck a particular chord with me:

I find myself taking those efforts for granted sometimes.

I realize how often I, too, am guilty of taking my students, my colleagues and my administration for granted, especially the latter group.

It's always easy to complain about one's bosses, to disagree with policy choices and make the mistake that if something isn't done in the fashion that I would do it, it's wrong.

The reality is both more complex and much simpler than that.

No one gets into education because they hate children.  No one becomes a teacher, an administrator or a board member because they want to ruin a child's future.

Yes, there are people who become teachers for the wrong reasons, but either they find a better reason to remain an educator, or they learn very quickly that this profession is not for them and they leave.

I don't always have to get along with, or agree with, my colleagues, but I think that frequently, I fail to acknowledge an important truth:

Every person who, either directly or indirectly, works with my students, does so because they want the best for those students.

I can't even begin to imagine how many times my administration has jumped in front of a bullet for me and the rest of the faculty so that we were able to do our jobs as effectively as possible.  All too often, administration is seen as a hindrance to what we try to do.  You would be hard pressed to find a teacher who hasn't heard some form of "if only the administration would..."

It's easy for educators to pass the buck, either up to admins, or down to students.

Yesterday, a colleague made a statement that struck me.

"Yeah, we deal with the 150 kids on our roster, but the admins deal with those kids too, as well as the rest of the kids and all of us!  I wouldn't want to do that job."

Our building principals have to work with over 1500 students and their parents.  They have to be the go-betweens for over 140 teachers and support staff.  Our district administrators oversee almost 4000 students and 350 teachers.

I would not want to do that job.

Even if I did, I think I do a poor job of expressing my empathy and gratitude for those who do.

I don't always agree with the choices made above my head, but I recognize that, no matter what, they are doing what they think is best for students and, what more could we ask of anyone.

We expect our student to make mistakes, to make choice with which we disagree, but for some reason when that happens with adults, we often write them off as incompetent or bad at their jobs.

I am, more often than I would like to admit, guilty of not appreciating the hard work that is done by those around me.  My colleagues, building principals and district administrators are working hard to make sure that our students are successful.  My own arrogance and short-sighted actions often make more work for those above me in the chain of command.

When convincing other educators to join Twitter, participate in chats and attend EdCamps, I frequently use the phrase "this job is way to hard to do alone."  More than that, this job is WAY too hard to do if someone is actively making it harder.  For that, regret each time I made the work more difficult for my administrators.

They have been fair and patient with me in ways that I often feel I do not deserve and I have not been nearly as appreciative of them as I should be.

So allow this to serve as a letter of appreciation for those who are always doing what they can to make our students lives better, regardless of their position in the hierarchy of education.

Thank you for everything that you have done and will continue to do to support my students, my colleagues and myself.

Thank you.

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