It’s safe to say that there are many kids who wouldn’t name school as one of their favorite places. And when they’re forced to go to school and actively engage in learning, the teachers are almost always to blame for what goes wrong in the process. It’s always the teacher’s fault when a student doesn’t understand something or when his or her grades are low. I have been pondering over this blame game for quite some time, despite the fact that I am sometimes a participant in it. And with Teacher Appreciation Week coming up next week, I think that it is important to take a closer look at the situation and for us, as students, to reevaluate our feelings towards teachers.
In my opinion, being a teacher is one of the most difficult jobs that one can have. This is based on multiple reasons. Firstly, the actual teaching aspect of the job is far more complex than most people would believe. Have you ever tried to teach someone something that he or she didn’t understand? I know that most of my attempts to show a friend how to set up a system of equations in math, or advise my little brother how to properly format an essay, have resulted in frustration on my part and a continued lack of comprehension on the other person’s part. It is beyond my scope of understanding how teachers can consistently and successfully teach students new material without becoming entirely fed up with the situation.
Secondly, the lack of respect that teachers sometimes receive from students is unbelievable and it definitely makes the job of educating harder for the teacher. I know that I would never have the strength and perseverance to come to work every morning to a classroom full of teenagers who don’t want to be there and who probably don’t want to hear much of what I have to say. It amazes me how little we appreciate our teachers, considering how much they do for us. I have seven classes in one day and in every single one, it is easy to point out at least a handful of students who show blatant disregard for the efforts of the teachers. Students sleep through class, neglect to take notes or do their homework, use their cell phones, gossip with friends during instruction, and ignore directions or requests from the teacher. This behavior, though almost second nature to some students, shows more than an apathetic attitude towards learning. It shows an obvious lack of acknowledgement to the time that teachers spend to ensure that we are learning everything we need to know to be successful.
In addition to being underappreciated by students, it seems to me that teachers are also underappreciated in terms of salaries. There are over 7.2 million teachers in the United States and 11,556 teachers in Montgomery County Public Schools. The average salary for one of these teachers is around 42,000 dollars a year. This isn’t a terrible living, especially with the benefits that working for the government comes with, but it isn’t much compared to what many in business earn. What a teacher’s salary really demonstrates is how much teachers love what they do. They aren’t doing it for the money or the perks; they come to school every morning because they believe that what they do is important. And it is.
Teachers are responsible for turning today’s typical teens, babysitters, lifeguards, football captains, class treasurers, and honor society members into tomorrow’s doctors, police officers, politicians, and of course, educators. You may not take it into consideration during your daily 5th period nap, or while you play Temple Run during math class, but the teachers that you’ve had since you were just a toddler have made huge impacts on your lives. I know that I have my teachers to thank for more than I can ever express gratitude for.
My kindergarten teacher taught me how to read and from then on, I loved books. My second grade teacher taught me how to spell out the words that I was thinking in my head. My third grade teacher taught me how to take my ideas and turn them into sentences to be written into my little black notebook. My sixth grade teacher taught me how to write an essay. My ninth grade journalism teacher taught me how to write articles. All of these things that I have been taught have inspired me to decide that I want to be a writer when I grow up. So the people who I often find myself holding responsible for everything bad about school are the very ones who have molded me into the student that I am today and who have instilled the dreams and goals that I have for myself. Teaching goes beyond textbooks and study guides; we are taught how to succeed and accomplish tasks, how to interact with our peers, and how to not only be better students, but all around better people.
I think that we should all take a minute to acknowledge the influences that our teachers over the years have had on our lives. Whether they just helped you learn new content or changed your view of the world, teachers deserve far more credit than they get. Not just during Teacher Appreciation Week, but every week, everyday, every class, we should all try our best to show a little more respect and appreciation for the people who get up every morning for the sole purpose of making sure that we all have bright futures filled with endless opportunities. As Henry Brooke Adams once said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell when his influence stops."