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Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

By Chris Donnelly

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Today is Teacher Appreciation Day! A day where we can thank teachers, past and present, for the impact that they make. Unless you’re a teacher, or perhaps live with one, not many people actually know what a teacher does in their job on a daily basis. “Chris, obviously they teach children stuff…?” Well, yes of course, but that isn’t all. Teachers are now doing far more work than they ever have, for a pay which remained stagnant for nearly a decade. I’m not going to list all the tasks that teachers have to do on a weekly basis, because it’s far more than you imagine. I’d recommend taking a morning out of your busy schedule (that’s how long it will take) to ask a teacher what they get up to during a week. I speak from experience, as I was a Geography teacher before joining Tree of Knowledge.

My favourite comment that I used to get from family and friends was, “Aye well look at the holidays you get!”. My stock response: “Yeah they’re brilliant!” (not the reply they were looking for while reeking of jealousy). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perk of the job. Who wouldn’t want 13 weeks off every year? But it absolutely comes at a cost. Teachers are performers. Even when they’ve got some non-contact time, they’ve still got a certain persona to maintain. Come the end of the term, teachers are tired, as are the pupils. The holidays are needed, otherwise the Scottish education system would be in tatters. There’d be nobody going to college, university or into apprenticeships due to a severe lack of productivity in schools.

 

Teachers are professionals. To be able to teach, you require a degree, a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, complete a probationary year, and only then are you fully qualified. Yet teachers are often looked down upon compared to the likes of doctors, dentists, vets and lawyers. But without teachers, we wouldn’t have any of these professions. Without teachers, we wouldn’t be as advanced technologically. Teachers help to open the minds of our young people. Teachers help young people to see their potential. Teachers help to equip young people with the skills required for adult life. Teachers need to be thanked.

Not everyone liked every teacher they ever had. But I’m sure every single person out there had at least one teacher who lit up a fire in their belly. You might not want to admit it, but I bet you did. Or perhaps it wasn’t until a while after you left school you realised that a certain teacher helped to shape you as a person. When you have that moment, take a few minutes to think about them. What was it they did to make you feel that way? Appreciate the fact that someone had YOUR best intentions at heart and wanted to see YOU succeed.

I often bump into former pupils at football matches and at gigs. Some pupils have followed me on Twitter to keep up to date with my new career. I love the positive interactions that we have (despite the fact I’ll have no doubt told them off at one point, or written on their report card, “could do better”). We’ll reminisce about funny moments during class, they’ll keep me up to date about their ambitions, and even ask for advice. It makes me think that I must have done a good job at building relationships with them. During those moments, I feel appreciated. And believe it or not, despite everything I said in the opening paragraphs of this blog, it makes me miss teaching!

If we all started to properly appreciate teachers, I think the teaching profession would be a better place. I don’t mean appreciate them by giving them a pat on the back and telling them that they’re doing a good job (that will have the opposite effect). Have a think about how a teacher made an impact on your life and say thank you. Give thanks to a former teacher (they’re probably easier to find nowadays with social media), a current teacher, a teacher friend or relative.  Not only will the person you’re thanking feel appreciated, it has been suggested that by saying “thank you” to someone and meaning it, you will also feel happier too (Harvard Health, 2015). It’s win-win.

References

Harvard Health (2015) – ‘Giving thanks can make you happier’ https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

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