I have such an admiration for teachers. Not just because I believed the words that Whitney Houston belted out two decades ago that our children are the future, but because I believe they are above us mere mortals.

I feel like they have super powers. Like the way they can make 27 six-year olds quiet down with a simple clap or get a rowdy group of 10th graders to pass a state assessment test. And do I even need to mention the ones that put their own lives at risk to protect students from violent perpetrators?

 

Photo from www.audio-luci-store.it

Photo from www.audio-luci-store.it

Yes, I know that you always hear about how teachers are overpaid and that they get summers off. Yes, I know some still have a union mentality more focused on tenure than performance/achievement. Yes, I know we are all jealous of how ‘easy’ their job is (I hope you can sense the sarcasm). And let’s not forget how awesome it must be to interact with parents day in and day out.

Now, I get it. There are teachers and then there are teachers. There are the educators that inspire and teach us ways to think and do that stick with us our entire lives (my high school AP English teacher) and there are those we would like to forget (my fifth grade teacher who told my mom I was too social and that was why my penmanship was bad.)

But the way I see it, teachers should get hazard pay, and not just because our schools are no longer the safe havens of yore; but because I am now a mom and know what they have to deal with on a daily basis.

So, because it is Teacher Appreciation Week, I thought I would share a few of the reasons why I heart teachers:

They deal with germs that make the movie Outbreak look like the common cold.  I seriously have no idea how teachers’ life expectancies aren’t the same as coal miners with the amount of ick they are exposed to on a daily basis. Lice, mono, strep throat, pink eye, scabies and every communicable disease known to man. And the vomit. Oh, the vomit. When my kids entered first grade I was so excited to volunteer in the lunch room. Well, that was before I saw two kids hurl and heard that a stomach virus outbreak was erupting throughout the school. Guess who gets to deal with that before we pick up our little cherubs? There is no summer vacation in the world that would make me deal with that.

+ They care, even when that’s not part of the job description. I will never forget the teacher who texted me pictures of my daughter at an event that I couldn’t make due to a trip I was on, or the teacher that called me at home because she was so excited about the jump in my daughter’s reading level. Their excitement was contagious, for me, my kids, and I believe, for them.

I am constantly amazed at what my friends that are teachers do for their students. Sometimes it is spending more money on their classrooms than what they make, or giving up their Friday night to spend it at a student’s ballet recital or soccer game. I have seen teachers sneak food to kids that are hungry or buy clothing to help a family in need. And in my heart, I don’t believe that these are a select few educators. I believe this is the norm.

Their interaction with our kids is like an after-school special. A friend of mine is a teacher at a large high school, and what she deals with on a regular basis is heart wrenching. Pregnancies, date rape, parental neglect, violence, bullying, eating disorders, mental illness and the list goes on and on. This is not an inner city high school either. This is a typical secondary institution in middle America. In addition to supporting the needs of these kids, she also gets to deal with their parents. The ones who stick their fingers in her face because they don’t like the grades their kids have earned, or the ones who leave messages — on her personal cell phone — asking to extend a deadline for a school project that was given five weeks earlier. Lucky her.

They are like the U.N. Have you ever seen a male first grade teacher work out the dynamics of three little girls who are going through friendship drama? Or a middle school gym teacher that has to deal with all the hormones raging in the locker room? At the end of the day, teachers are constantly solving crises. Maybe not ones linked to world peace, but for our kids, they are pretty major.

They see what I see, but 24x. My daughter had a dangling tooth that was so disgusting it at times made me gag. I could not imagine seeing that about every day for 180 days. The burping, tooting, and nose picking. The hair twirling, knuckle cracking and eye rolling. Teachers get to see this all the time from a wide variety of participants. How they stay sane I have no idea.

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They change lives. My daughter would not be where she is today if not for some amazing teachers (and therapists) at her schools. They, literally, have changed the trajectory of her life. And who hasn’t had “that” teacher that inspires us to be better, to think bigger and achieve more? The teacher that believed in us more than we believed in ourselves? The teacher that made something insanely boring seem suddenly ridiculously cool? I’ve had several, ranging from my sixth grade social studies teacher to my comparative politics professor at the University of Florida. They all changed me…for the better.

Teachers today are faced with insurmountable obstacles. Curriculums that are constantly changing; standardized tests that can be biased and unfair; parents that have unrealistic expectations; apathetic students that want good grades to be handed to them instead of earned; and a culture of disobedience that puts them in harm’s way, regardless of what grade they teach.

Today, I’m standing up for the teachers. The ones that make sure my kid’s pants are always buttoned because she couldn’t do it herself. The ones that buy school supplies because they know their students can’t afford it. The ones who come in early and stay late just to help that one student who just doesn’t get it. The ones who know it’s not about them, and it’s always about somebody else. And even the ones who become apathetic after years of getting beaten down.

Today, I’m saying thank you . You are appreciated, and I hope you feel it!

Do you have a special teacher in your life? Tell me about it.

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