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Give Thanks...to a Teacher

Give Thanks….to a Teacher
November 16, 2021 Kimberly Thaggard, Ph.D.
Student Giving Teacher an Apple

Give Thanks…to a Teacher

The essential nature of teachers has never been more apparent. Like doctors and nurses, teachers deserve thanks for being an integral part of the front lines in our battle against COVID-19. However, during this time of Thanksgiving and holiday celebrations many Americans do not have the expendable income, time, or energy to thank teachers the way they deserve to be thanked. This does not mean that the idea should be forfeited altogether, which is why we, a committed group of teachers, have compiled a list of economic and authentic ways that you can give thanks to a teacher this year.

    1. Send a respectful child to school. School has always been, and should remain a forum for disagreement, debate, and discourse, however, when students resort to disrespect and disregard for a teacher’s willingness and ability to teach, they not only contribute to a divisive world, but they further contribute to the stress and frustration of the teaching profession. Students who are empathetic, kind, willing to learn, and can exercise calm when they feel frustrated or angry, allow the classroom to be a haven for learning and a thoughtful exchange of ideas. It also creates an environment where students learn to function in the real world with other individuals…especially those whom they disagree.
    2. DO NOT give credence to teachers on social media that complain about their jobs. I have been in schools for almost 20 years, and I can assure you that if a teacher has time to build a TikTok following by making videos that defame the profession…then they have enough time to consult and apply organizational and pedagogical strategies that could turn their classroom in the right direction. The teachers who really fight to ensure that your child gets the best education, do not use social media as a sounding board to complain about their problems…they are in the classroom finding ways to solve them. Like any profession, there are those individuals that will always complain, and those that will contribute to the solution…good, authentic teachers comprise the latter.
    3. Get involved in your community schools. In early October 2021 Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana made state news for being one of the most violent schools in Louisiana. In late October however, Southwood made NATIONAL news because a group of parents decided that they did not want their children to go to a dangerous school…and they made efforts to change it. “Dads on Duty,” a collection of dedicated fathers in the area began to walk the halls daily to talk to kids, settle the air, and create a more conducive environment for learning. As a former principal, I would not dare say to an eager volunteer “no, we have got this taken care of,” …I bet your local principals share the same sentiments. Make the call. Ask to help. Be part of what makes schools better.
    4. Treat teachers like the professionals. Public education is free and unfortunately many equate its cost with an opportunity to underscore its value. American students are taught by over 3.3 million teachers, twice the size active US military forces. Of that 3.3 million, over 52% have graduate degrees. Teachers are professionals, experts, and they choose to teach, not because they have to, but because they want to and are called to. When we decide, as a culture, to treat teachers like doctors, lawyers, and MBAs (which many of them were before they decided to teach), we have the potential to systematically improve every aspect of our country’s progress. Remember…teaching is the profession of all other professions.
    5. VOTE FOR PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT EDUCATION. This week Congress will sign a $1 TRILLION bill to invest in the country’s infrastructure. It is a bipartisan bill that, to me, makes sense. It makes sense because most Americans in this country depend on US highways, bridges, and railways. Whether we are traveling, or simply buying products that get to us through these avenues, a healthy infrastructure collectively contributes to most of our daily lives. My only critique is that education is not considered part of our infrastructure.Directly or indirectly, we are all subject to the product of our schools…who do you think is designing and building the new bridges and highways? Are schools not, as Oxford defines, part of “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operations of a society or enterprise?” While schools are the state’s responsibility under the 10th Amendment, citizens still have the power and influence to elect the leaders and decision makers that can help make education a larger, more essential, part of the legislative conversation.If you are over the age of eighteen you are invited every year to vote for local, state, and federal leaders that have the power to bolster the needs of teachers and schools. Ever wonder where your elected leaders stand on education…go HERE. The NCSL keeps track of each state, each elected official, and the bills and legislation that work to help education and educators.

    I don’t know many people who are not indebted to a teacher. Now, is a great time to say thank you!

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