Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thank A Teacher

I know I must be behind the times, but I can not wrap my head around the fact that it is August already. I can't believe we have almost lived in Utah for six months now. That's crazy to think about! Anyway, the point I was getting around to making is that school is back in session for most people, and the university I work at is about to start back up, as well. Today, my Facebook news feed was filled with pictures of students and teachers for their first days back. I don't feel old enough to have friends that are in their 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th years teaching, but in reality, many of my friends are teachers and have been teaching for a few years now. I love the teaching profession. I even thought I would become a teacher for the longest time, and if you ask my friends and family about the unfinished basement in my parents' house, they would tell you it used to be covered with posters, and school supplies and textbooks sat everywhere. I "taught" my brothers and sister, as well as stuffed animals. I absolutely loved it, and now I hope to teach at a college level permanently someday.

I have so much respect for teachers in this world. Think about it: these people spend their 40 hours (plus more!) every week exercising patience, restraint, compassion, kindness, and tolerance while instilling new concepts into young minds, whether it be in kindergarten or high school or somewhere in between. We hear so many non-teachers say, "it must be nice to get a three-month break from work every year." But, I don't think many people know what it takes to be a teacher. In their role, these amazing people act as caregivers, counselors, friends, authority figures, disciplinarians, nurses, recess monitors, etc. Of course there are professional guidance counselors and nurses and principals that also do amazing work, but the teachers are there first when there is any issue. For 40 hours a week, those children rely on their teachers for so many things, not just homework help. And that's not all. That's just the time allocated for spending with their students. They only receive one hour free period for prep work each day. Most have to eat with their students and monitor recess at times, so that is the only block they have to work on lesson planning, grading, organizing their classroom, etc., unless they devote more time (that is not paid as overtime) to their work.

Almost all of the teachers I have encountered spend a great deal of time outside of the classroom planning and prepping. And when they are not doing that, they are focused on thinking about new ways to improve their teaching. They are PASSIONATE. Have you ever followed a teacher on Pinterest? I have. Many of their boards are filled with new ways of implementing ideas and printable worksheets and new methods. Maybe others wouldn't call that work, but I do. It's helping the students to learn, isn't it? I know other professions require time working outside of the office, but as a society, we know that salaries for teachers are way under what they should be. I can bring up the calculation pointing out that when you divide the salary by the number of hours worked and then by the number of students, they make about a dollar per child per hour, while baby-sitters make, on average, 8-10 dollars per hour. See this article. How is that fair? (And no, I am NOT saying that teachers are baby-sitters. I think that term is degrading to these people that have earned degrees, passed licensing examinations, and continuously learn new ways of teaching themselves.) Especially since that specific calculation doesn't even take into consideration all of the time spent outside of work. Further more, most teachers spend a great deal of money out of pocket for school supplies, decorations and posters for their classroom, etc. What other profession requires that?!

If you know a teacher, thank them. Everyone always raves about physicians and medical professionals when they save a life. They should! Or lawyers when they win an important case. And again, they should! But how often do we hear people rave about teachers? Our instructors, no matter what grade level, are the ones that TAUGHT these physicians, nurses, lawyers, pilots, researchers, bankers, government workers, counselors, nutritionists, and so on first. The people we should be thanking constantly are the ones that spend the most time influencing our children's life outside of the parents. When we reach a goal in life, we should go back and thank the teachers that helped us to get to that point.

I have so many people that I would like to thank, but I just really want to say THANK YOU and express how much I appreciate all of my former teachers. I'd like to especially recognize the ones at my elementary school that were there when I first started having medical issues and didn't know if I could go on. You know who you are. I simply can't think of kinder, more compassionate, more intelligent, amazing people. You have all influenced my life greatly and pushed me to be the best that I can be. In particular, thank you to an amazing woman and science teacher. You taught me to never give up; to always be passionate and love science; and to go as far as I could in life with God's love and guidance. I honestly believe that the opportunity to be working in research today and to be influencing people's lives with our medical breakthroughs is thanks, in large part, to you. Thank you to my friends that are teachers. I have watched you plan, prepare classrooms, and just genuinely love your job and love impacting your students' lives in a positive way, and there are no better people for that job. And finally, thank you to all of the teachers out there. You are all amazing and inspirational!

Ranting is my specialty, let's be honest. But if there is one thing you take from this article, please let it be to thank our teachers.


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Much Love!

Much Love!