Chanukah is now over, the excitement will soon wear off and we will all be looking on to the rest of the year. I’d like to ask you all, did you say thank you to your child/ren’s teacher yet this year?
If you did, that is fabulous! If you didn’t, I totally understand since I am a parent myself. There are many, many reasons you may not have said thank you yet. Perhaps you participated in you school’s PTA Chanukah gelt towards the teachers and you think that’s enough.
Perhaps you are so overwhelmed and busy with your children and job that it slipped your mind. Perhaps your child isn’t so happy this year, so you just didn’t feel like it.Or you simply didn’t realize why a thank you is necessary.
As a teacher, wife of a teacher and daughter of teachers, I’d like to share what kind of appreciation is meaningful to a teacher. Respecting your child’s teacher is the most important, I will not go into the what and how of that now.
Verbally expressing “thank you,” through a phone call, writing a card, or an e-mail mean the world to a teacher. Teachers usually save each one of the above because of how valuable they are and how few they get. Having your child draw a picture, add stickers to the card or share what they appreciate about the teacher adds meaning. If you can add something you baked or a small or large gift that is always appreciated as well. There are many other staff in the school system that directly influence or help your child who would appreciate a thank you. The principal of course, the bus driver, the gym teacher, the office staff, the nurse etc.
What prompted me to write this was that this year I saw very clearly that the main reason parents don’t say thank you is because they surely must not realize how much the teachers do for their children. We all know it is basic mentchlichkiet to say thank you to those who do something for us. From the UPS delivery guy, to the babysitter, to someone who voluntarily offered to help you or watch your children. This year on Chanukah, out of out of 22 parents, I received 5 small gifts each with a thank you note. I soon realized that each of these were from super busy moms, 3 working full time, and 4 out of 5 were teachers in my school. In addition, 2 of those teachers happen to teach my own children. Clearly, a parent who is also a teacher realizes that it would be impolite not to say thank you, for they truly understand the effort a teacher puts in; I’m sure the other parents do not yet realize this.
The school’s Chanukah gelt is appreciated and appropriate and would not be possible without the parents in many cases, however it doesn’t take the place of a personal thank you.
I’d like to take a moment to bring to light what most teachers, to varying degrees, are doing for your children. Please do not post comments about teachers who you feel are incompetent. I know they exist, but for the most part, even if you aren’t super happy with your child’s teacher, they are putting in tremendous effort that deserves to be recognized.
The life of a teacher
Similar to a parent, a teacher is always thinking about each and every student, brainstorming howto teachand motivate them.
Many teachers are actively reading every latest teaching book available, attend workshops, spend their summers preparing, all to be up-to-date on the latest out there,in case they come up with yet one more good idea for your child.
Many teachers spend hours and hours of unpaid time each evening preparing lessons and shopping for your child’s class.
Many teachers are using their own maasser and even personal money to buy prizes, visual aids, treats, arts & crafts materials, and things to organize and beautify your child’s classroom.
Many teachers spend hours in the evening talking to parents on the phone, sending e-mails or texting parents with reports of their child’s behavior.
Let’s not forget the hours it takes to fill out report cards, prepare for parent-teacher conferences and attend them, as well as back-to-school night, and staying late to organize and clean the classroom.
Many teachers treat your child as you would treat them, with love, care and concern.
Most teachers (I hope) exercise tremendous patience and respect while disciplining your child through some of the greatest disruptions and disrespect.
Many teachers are up at 5 AM or earlier to prepare for your child’s class.
Many teachers arrange extra-curricular special programs, farbrengens, or trips for your child’s class.
A teacher’s job is very inflexible. That means they need to be there every day at the same time with almost no ability to take care of important phone calls or appointments which add tremendous strain.
And the list goes on and on. There is literally no end to the effort that most teachers put into their classes. If you really wanted to say thank you each time your child’s teacher did something for your child, the way you would to anyone else who does something for you, you would need to do so a few times a day.
Any teacher that stays in the job will tell you that we don’t do it for appreciation. There is so much unnoticed (under)paid work, voluntary work and physical and mental exhaustion that goes into teaching, that if teachers relied on the appreciation of others we simply wouldn’t be able to continue.Although it isn’t easy, teachers learn to endorse and encourage themselves. I personally wake up each morning and tell Hashem and the Rebbe that I’m doing this for their children, ‘cause I know they care.
Similar to parenting, there are days that things go well in the classroom, and there are days full of challenges. We understand that we are caring for your diamonds, and therefore it’s hard for you to always be in full control or see the teacher’s perspective when your child is unhappy about something. If a teacher is new at it, chance are he/she is not yet getting the results that they’d like and receiving much negative feedback. New teachers deserve extra kindness, empathy, and encouragement from parents as they get started, even if you’re not thrilled with the results.
Every moment of a teacher’s (and principal’s) time is precious. If your child is presenting extra challenges beyond the norm, it is above and beyond the call of duty for a teacher to be spending hours and hours tending to your child’s needs. If they do however, it is extremely important and appropriate to show appreciation with a tip. If they would charge you for their time, you may not be able to afford it, but not showing some extra Hakaras Hatov, I feel, is inappropriate.
Dear parents, after reading the above, I hope you realize yourself how much a thank you would mean to a teacher, and how it’s truly an obligation for all parents to take the time to express a personal thank you to each and every one of their children’ s teachers and assistants (who are usually very overworked and underpaid). If you haven’t said thank you yet, it is not too late. Act now!