It’s that time of the year – time for my third annual blog post for Teacher Appreciation Week(s)! (Depending on your school board, you may be celebrating this week, or next, or both 🙂 ) I have a lot to say on the subject of teacher appreciation (past blog posts here and here), specifically my appreciation for the teachers I have the good fortune to work with on a daily basis: Alex, Andy, Audrey, Kerry and Peggy. To the five of you: I want to thank you and wish you a happy Teacher Appreciation Week. My hope is that these teachers feel my appreciation for their outstanding work every day of the year.
I must also mention that I work with many amazing educators in my role at LEARN, the wonderful SOS LEARN tutors, the supportive school staffs at our online learning partner schools, and the incredible staff at LEARN.
The bell rings! Students run to their lockers, boisterously gather their lunch bags, back packs and assorted books required for homework. The buses are lined up, they quickly fill and students head home for the evening. Teachers take a breath. Most of the students have left, but the teacher’s day is long from over. And for many teachers, the work day may also have started hours before the buses arrived.
This year for Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s not recognize the incredible work teachers do during the school day.
Instead, let’s focus on the amazing work they do above and beyond the school day.
I remember a year when all of my teaching colleagues were asked to record the time they spent on “school work” outside the regular school day hours. That year, I was helping to coach volleyball, organizing 30 hour famine, running the dance committee, working on drama presentations, helping to organize Winter Carnival, oh, and teaching four secondary language arts classes. My hours added up quickly and there were staff members giving much more time than I did!
When I think back, way back, to my own experience in high school, many of the happiest moments that pop into my head are from involvement in extra-curricular activities (student council, school musical, fundraising, dances, sports, etc.) and from the moments when teachers took the extra time with me outside of class to help me when I needed it most. None of those memorable moments would have happened without teachers and other staff members giving their time to support students through activities that make a difference to school life.
One might imagine that online teachers do not have the many demands on their time outside of the school day. WRONG! LEARN’s dedicated online teachers are never far away from their online students, tweeting and e-mailing with them after class, making comments on blog posts, discussion threads and e-portfolios, providing evening and weekend, extra help sessions, and preparing the Voicethreads, Google docs, or presentations required for their online classes. Additionally, they are also sharing with other teachers beyond their classrooms through blogs and PLNs. LEARN’s online teachers present about their classroom practices at conferences in Quebec and beyond.
Even if teachers are not helping with extra-curricular activities, they are planning, reading and giving feedback on student work, communicating with parents, collaborating with colleagues, participating in governing board or school council, providing extra help, and purchasing classroom materials (too often with their own money!) With e-mail and social media (blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, etc.), many teachers are spending a great deal of time in the evening continuing to foster positive relationships with students and their families.
In my 20+ years as a student and my 20+ years as an educator (add it up and account for the + signs, if you must), I have been influenced by many amazing teachers. I believe that what the most inspiring teachers maintain is a strong desire to always do all that they can to relate to and engage their students, no matter the time it requires. The importance of connecting with students and sharing our passion for learning makes all of that extra time outside of the classroom so important and so rewarding.
Thank you, Quebec teachers! Thank you for all of the time that you give, inside and outside the classroom, to improve the quality of school life for everyone. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!