What Do Teachers Really Want During Teacher Appreciation Week?

Teacher Appreciation Week, PurpleMay has come, and with it, the annual #TeacherAppreciationWeek tweets and Facebook posts… It’s Teacher Appreciation Week!

 As we at Open Up Resources tried to brainstorm ways to recognize the selflessness and hard work of teachers from around the country, we found ourselves coming up with nada.  Not because we don’t love teachers – we fell short because no matter what we came up with, nothing was enough to recognize the amazing work happening in classrooms every day and give teachers the respect they deserve.

 Instead, we decided to ask teachers how they could be better appreciated, respected, and supported, and amplify teachers’ voices. We reached out to teachers and asked the question: “What do teachers really want to show them respect for Teacher Appreciation Week?”

 Their responses and comments moved everyone at Open Up Resources greatly, and we hope they move you too. We have much work to do in showing our teachers the respect and admiration they truly deserve.

Marian Dingle – 4th & 5th Grade Teacher, Atlanta, GA

“After living through 20 Teacher Appreciation celebrations in May, I have found that what I really crave is to be valued in October. And January. All year. Not because it is a special holiday, but just because. I don’t want cute mugs or gift cards (although they can be nice). What I really want is to be treated as a professional, to be trusted that I know when something is wrong (and right) with a child. I want you to know that for me, and for each of my students, we are more than data points, test scores, or variables. We are unique. What we teachers do with students is pure magic, and can’t be fully captured in a number. Please remember and honor that. They become part of us and when they leave at year-end, it hurts. It is a loss. But that is the job, and we begin again.”

Alana Tramel – 1st Grade Teacher, Kinder Elementary School, Kinder, LA

“We can support teachers by giving them access to high-quality curriculum and research to help them grow as highly efficient teachers. We can respect them by trusting their instincts when it comes to implementing a high-quality curriculum. If we see an area of growth needed in their instruction, approach them with research while respecting their knowledge in the professional sense. In other words, treat them like the professionals they are.”

Howie Hua – Preservice Math Teacher, Fresno State University

“I want you to imagine a life without teachers. Where would we be as a society? We can better support and respect teachers by acknowledging that our job is hard but necessary, at any grade level. When we think about most of the jobs out there, like doctors, lawyers, engineers, they all needed teachers to become who they are today. Teachers are some of the most selfless individuals out there; at any given time, you will find a teacher spending their free time improving their craft, grading, or worrying about a student who they view as their own kid. We can support teachers by thanking them for choosing one of the most selfless professions, and to help support them in higher pay.”

Erin Olson – Instructional Leader, Sioux Central Community Schools, Sioux Rapids, IA

“Trust teachers. This trust extends to listening to and including teachers in decisions that affect their classrooms and students. Give gratitude. Sharing and showing appreciation for teachers' contributions can do wonders for morale. Make time. Time to see the awesome that happens in classrooms, time for teachers to connect, time to show and share learning, time to grow.”

Melynee Naegele – Elementary Math Specialist, Will Rogers Junior High, Tulsa, OK

“I believe the best way we can support and respect teachers is the same way we support and respect every human being. Every person has something amazing to bring to the table. Every person has value, every person has a uniqueness that is beautiful and needed to make this world complete!

Teachers need to be invited to the conversation and heard once they are there. So many initiatives, so many changes, are originated from the top down. Often times the "top" are the political leaders creating laws to mandate and demand from educators. More often than not, these mandates have been created without asking a single educator for their insight, their expertise, and educators opinions are not even considered while developing initiatives, laws, and change. Teachers are the experts in the education field and yet they are the last if ever asked to share their knowledge and to be given a voice in the future of education.

Bottom line, teachers are not treated like professionals. It is imperative that teachers be treated like human beings, teachers need to be treated like professionals, teachers need to be respected for the wonderful human beings that are passionately driven to love and educate our children, the future of America!”

Sakari Burgess – 3rd Grade Teacher, Oaks Road Academy, New Bern, NC

“As teachers, we provide such a vital service to our society but our needs and responsibilities are often misunderstood or not acknowledged. Society could better support and respect teachers by reaching out and having honest conversations about the challenges we face as educators. I’ve heard the phrase “teachers are glorified babysitters” multiple times and though it is hurtful and inaccurate, I know it simply comes from a place of misunderstanding and disconnection. Bridging the gap and creating more meaningful relationships between teachers and the community outside of school would lead to better support and greater respect.”

Shannon Bowman – 6th Grade Math & Science Teacher, Centennial Campus Middle School, Cary, NC

“I think as a community we could better support and respect our teachers by giving our children a chance. If in your household you value education, your children will too. If you read to your children, they will too. If your children hear you speak highly of their school and teachers, they will too! We need to support our teachers by allowing them to have support from students’ homes and families. Students will come in with their trials and different learning styles, but we can address that if we are all on the same team. Support your schools. Support your teachers. Support your children. That will show teachers that you respect them and the profession that they so desperately love.”

Ellen Frackelton – Kindergarten Teacher, Williamsburg–James City County Schools, Williamsburg, VA

“The best support teachers need is to understand evidenced-based practices. All teachers want to do their best for students and in order to do that, we need high-quality professional development on the latest research. Teachers also need time to collaborate with colleagues, to brainstorm how research can look in practice with students.”

Cathy Dickson – Math Teacher, Lake Zurich Middle School, Hawthorn Woods, IL

"Since we know that teacher efficacy greatly impacts student learning, we need to ensure that teachers have the appropriate weekly time to collaborate on teams where all members take responsibility for all their students. This calls for appropriate training and protocols set in place so that PLC dialogue is data-driven and results in action to move learning forward. Classrooms should be doors to opportunity for students so we need to work harder to see that teachers are given the necessary tools and materials that students need in order to ensure that every student has greater access."

Priscilla Keller – Kindergarten Teacher, Ballard County Elementary School, Barlow, KY

"After reflecting on this question, my answer is to listen. As a kindergarten teacher, I have learned to be a better listener than speaker. My kids tell everything I need to know about them and life.  Teachers are kind of like kindergarteners they just need someone to listen to their frustrations and celebrations. On my worst days, I just want someone to tell me that is okay and it will get better. On my best days, I want someone to be excited that something I tried work for my students. Sometimes teachers just need ears."

We Hear You

We’ve never been secretive about the fact that we believe high-curricula matters – but high-quality teachers do too. We are going to spend our week amplifying as many teacher voices as we can via our social media feeds as a small tribute to the work happening day in and day out by teachers everywhere.

Teachers, we hear you, we see you, and we respect you.