Saturday, August 17, 2013

Appreciate Teachers Early! They've Earned it!

Thanks to summer I haven't looked at my planner for months. I'm not gonna lie, it's been awesome but now suddenly it is back-to-school time and my brain is shifting to think about appointments, practice schedules and reestablishing bedtimes. Can you hear the grinding of the gears? 
My kids, and probably your kids too, are just now thinking about classrooms, homeroom and where to sit in the cafeteria. Important stuff, no doubt. 
But in order to make that first day awesome our educators have already put in some really long hours, invested their time and money and are preparing feverishly for your family.
Yes, there is a small army of men and women that you'll never notice preparing for your arrival. 
In case you are unaware, at the end of every school year, teachers pack up their classrooms. They box it all up and store it for the following fall. This keeps their materials in good condition and allows for their rooms to get a thorough cleaning. 
I moved twice in one year back in 1999 and I haven't moved since. Packing, labeling and inventor-ing is grueling work. That's why people use moving companies! Except teachers, they do it all themselves.
 So while your family is together shopping in air conditioned stores for rulers and notebooks, teachers are working, away from their loved ones, in hot classrooms all day and late into the night. 
And that is just the physical demands of preparing for the new school year. Don't forget about the mental and emotional energy required to prepare for your children! I mean you do realize, of course, that when you say you can't wait to get your kids out of your hair your relief comes at a teacher's expense. He or she is about to get your kid plus 20 to 25 more!
Plus there's all the paperwork, state regulations and professional development that happen outside of the school day.
I know many teachers who are sensitive to the misconception that teaching looks like a pretty good gig. I mean who else gets to work a mere nine months out of the year? But unless you've been a teacher, or have been married to a teacher, you may not fully grasp the personal sacrifice these people make.
I mean they most certainly are not in it for the money. According to the Pew Research Center 72% of adults polled say that teachers contribute "a lot" to society's well being. Teaching was second to military personnel and yet in the state of North Carolina the starting teacher salary is $8,000 less than the average cable TV installer's salary. 
Teachers do it because it's a gift. They choose to love your kid, teach them, shape them and mold them into the person they are becoming. 
I guess what I'm trying to say is be kind to your kid's teacher. In fact, appreciate them and the entire school staff. Remember the secretaries and custodians and lunch staff. Perhaps if they all knew how much you appreciated their efforts the eight hours your child spends in their care would set the stage for a successful school year. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so!

This article appears as a part of a weekly series for The Review Atlas entitled Practical Parenting. Stephanie is a mother of five children and a parent educator for the preschool families at Monmouth-Roseville school district. She can be reached at for questions, comments or to inquire about services for families with young children.

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