Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” - Henry Brooks Adams

I could not let this week end without giving a shout out to some of the most influential people in the world--our teachers. I have been fortunate. I have had some great teachers. It is amazing the impact they had on me. I remember many of them for their individual uniqueness.  Most of my great teachers had one similar but tremendous characteristic, however. They kept things simple. And they kept discipline in the classroom. They treated their students with respect and unconditional love.

In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times this week, Daniel Slotnik wrote, “That’s why I have a hard time tolerating people who disproportionately blame teachers for our poor educational outcomes. I understand that not every teacher is a great one. But neither is every plumber, or every banker or every soldier. Why then should teachers be demonized so much?”

I agree with Mr. Slotnik. There are some very good teachers out there. Instead of tearing them down, we should support them. As parents we can do this in a myriad of ways—showing up to PTA meetings, supporting our children in their extracurricular efforts, ask teachers if they need anything from us to make their jobs easier.

We can also stop taking our children’s side when they are in conflict with a teacher. It creates an us versus them mentality with the kids. And they learn to disrespect authority. 

I vividly remember having a problem with one of my teachers while in elementary school. I wanted my dad to take my side. But he wouldn’t.

“You never take my side when she fusses at me,” crying to my dad one day.

“That’s because I know how you act at home, so I know what you are capable of at school,” he said.

Oh, did I tell you my dad was a teacher?

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