December 9, 2010

Give Teachers a Break

One of the things I enjoy most about my job as an itinerant teacher is that I am constantly behind the scenes. I travel from one school to another, never knowing what to expect or who I will see. I slip in and out of different classes to pull students, work with students in the class, observe, drop off or pick up equipment or documents, talk with the teachers, or give presentations about hearing loss issues. On a typical day, I go to at least four different schools and visit at least four different classes, four different students, eight different teachers, and countless numbers of administrators and random people who cross my path.

One of the most important things I have learned to do from my job is that sometimes it is best to stop and listen.  Really listen. I have come to really enjoy listening to others. I learn so much while giving those that I have listened to the opportunity to sort out their feelings and thoughts out loud. Sometimes you just gotta say some things out loud. Get it out.

From my past experiences, I learned that it is best to let the person talk and not interrupt and provide any advice or suggestions, unless they ask for it. A lot of times when people vent or talk out loud about their frustrations they are not interested in what you have to say.

I have had plenty of opportunities to hear teachers talk about about their job and about how frustrating and complicated everything can be.

Here are some things they often talk about:
  • Lack of respect and motivation from the students
  • Lack of respect and support from the administrators
  • Lack of respect and understanding from the parents
  • Dealing with 20-30 kids at once in a classroom, all with different needs, styles, and personalities
  • Never ending paperwork and meaningless tasks
  • Trying to follow and use the curriculum strictly enforced upon them
  • Not enough time, energy, and freedom to be the teacher they would like to be
  • The student they could not help as the school system shuffles him or her around until they drop out or graduate not ready for college or to get a decent job.
And the list goes on and on. Yet they are still there. Still willing to put up with the constant stress hurled at them on a daily basis while getting paid so little to do it. 

So, give teachers a break. They are up against a lot. Tell them something nice every now and then. Tell them, "Thank you."

One teacher who has been teaching for over twenty years, who won all these awards for 'best teacher of the year' and such, told me, "In all my years of teaching, I can only remember three parents who came to me and thanked me personally."

So, do me a favor, thank some teachers and tell them how much you appreciate all that they do for you. It could be enough to help them forget about the troubles for the day and to inspire them to teach as best as they can.



  1. I had a teacher in fifth grade that changed my life. Later I planned to write him a thank you letter as an adult. By the time I got to it he had died.

    My son has that special kind of teacher now. I made a point to let her know she is that teacher for him. I thank her every chance I get. I can't believe how much she has done to foster his growth and learning even in a class of 30.

    So cheers to all teachers! You have my respect.

  2. I thank all of my professors who have made a difference now. The ones from the past I've slowly said thanks for making a difference in my life. Usually, I was the only Hard of Hearing/Deaf kid in my classes and still am often it has been a struggle. Nearly there to my goal of a BA, now to figure out what to do with it after wards ;-D


Keep it civil.