It is Teacher Appreciation week. I know because yesterday I got the annual reminder that the “dessert bar” will be open in the teacher’s lounge all afternoon. I am grateful I got the reminder yesterday, because I needed time to dig out my stretchy skirt for the occasion. When my student’s ask me smiling “did you try the thing my mom baked” I want to be able to answer them honestly. I am just that committed to my job. Hey, I do it for the kids.
At the school I now work at, the PTA organizes a dessert bar that the Golden Corral would be jealous of. Not only do they stock the teacher’s lounge with an artfully arranged pile of homemade treats, they also have at least three lovely moms telling you they are grateful for the work you do. You get to stuff delicious treats in your face and commiserate with the parents about how their kids are
worthless less than thoroughly motivated this time of year. I go back at least three times, and one of my colleagues and I compete to see who can eat the most kinds of brownies. Really, everybody wins.
I am grateful for the awesome dessert bar and the shout outs on Facebook. I am completely burned out right now and I need all the help I can get. I have gotten free coffee from my Dunkin’ Donuts app twice this week and I see it as nothing less than manna from heaven (Hey God, that appears every day, right? Because, real talk, I have no idea if I am going to be able to make it til May 23. Amen.) I have worked really freaking hard this year and I do need someone to tell me that my job matters. Because seriously, it is May 6 and some kids are still surprised that we are reading every day. In English class.
This out pouring of treats and words of parental affirmation have not always been the case. My first year of teaching, I learned that it was about to be teacher appreciation week because someone came around asking for a donation. Yup, all the teacher’s were expected to give five dollars so that they could be appreciated. My second and third years I was sent an email reminding me that all teacher appreciation funds were used to buy us each a membership to the PTSA that exactly no parents joined so we could get some sort of 100 percent participation badge the principal felt was really important. It was weird, and I still don’t get it.
So today I am thinking of friends who work at schools where no one has the time or resources to set up a dessert bar or hand them a gift card to Starbucks. In order to have business partners to give your teacher’s freebies, you have to have businesses in the area that are thriving. Teaching at a high needs school is the kind of hard that you just have to experience to believe. And likely the only thank you these teachers are getting is attached to an “exciting opportunity” to buy supplies for their own classroom at a ten percent discount.
Here’s to you, teachers who have been buying their own pencils since October, to those who laugh out loud when a guest speaker suggests applying for a PTSA grant. Here’s to the teachers who buy granola bars for the end of the month when the food stamps have run dry, who have figured out how to teach their kids how to make award-winning art projects out of garbage and creativity. Here’s to the teachers who keep the tragedies they read in their children’s “what I did today” journal close to their heart, to the teachers who keep up with the current hip-hop music so they can make new lyrics about the cell every.single.year. because “that song was soooo 6 months ago.” Here’s to the teachers who are not being appreciated this year with a treat, or a note, or a gift card. I know that teaching is its own reward, but I also know how tired you are, how hard you work, and how much you just want someone to notice. I am noticing. You are appreciated.