In anticipation of National Teacher Appreciation Week, I sent out a quick survey to ask teachers to complete the following: “As an educator, I wish…”. I wondered how many teachers would ask for “stuff” vs how many other types of responses I would get. The results were surprising. Yes, I did get teachers who responded that they wished they had, “a classroom set of iPads”, “more computers for students to use,” and “tables in my classroom instead of desks” to name a few. But for many educators, they looked beyond the stuff and made wishes that impact education and learning beyond the boundaries of the walls of the classroom, school or institution.
When a teacher says, “I wish that my students would take more interest in their education” they are also saying that they wish education was a priority in the home and in the community from which the students come. Teachers deeply wish that today’s society would place the same value on education as it does on some many often temporal things. “I wish people understood how I much I love and care for their children” often translates to a teacher who is taking time, energy, and often money out of their own pocket to provide in many cases for the necessities of life for the children they serve.
I wish “people would realize we don’t just deal with 1 patient, 1 client, 1 case, or 1 law to pass. We have several students demanded our attention, respect, knowledge, and love.” I wish “I can earn a wage comparable to other professions with similar educational requirements.” I wish “that state testing wasn’t scheduled during teacher appreciation week!” and I wish, “politicians would spend time in public schools before they passed legislation pertaining to education.” These wishes reflect teachers’ desires for society to value their job and role in raising up generation after generation of citizens that have the potential to make our world a better place, or to become a burden to society. Many non-educators are quick to decide and discuss what is wrong with today’s teachers and educational systems and how they can “fix them.” But how many politicians and others have actually “walked a day in my shoes?” Does our society realize the struggles and challenges that many teachers have with teaching students who are not present in school or who are sitting in class hungry because they have not had a meal since lunch at school yesterday (or even last Friday if today is Monday!). Would we ask a doctor to operate without up-to-date equipment or to cram two or three patients into the same operating room and to perform surgery on all three at once?! Yet that is exactly what many teachers are having to do today as they are called upon to diagnose on the fly, prescribe, and remediate those they serve.
And when a teacher says, I wish: “to continue to find innovative ways to reach my students and provide them the tools to be successful in class and in life;” “that I can continue to help all of our students, even those who struggle with disabilities, real meaningful opportunities to work toward their fullest potential and realize their dreams;” “to encourage my students to love learning;” and “I could see Math through my students’ eyes more clearly so I could fill in the gaps in their prior learning more effectively and help them feel empowered to learn” they are expressing the ultimate desire of those educators who have a passion for students, for their subject, and for learning because they cannot do anything else. It is their calling, their honor, their life’s blood to work with students at all levels to help them be the best they can be.
So to all educators everywhere, I applaud you as an educator, I wish that all children, all students at any level, had equal access to educational opportunities that would support their realizing their full potential. For fellow educators I wish you had the resources and support you need so you can meet your students where they are and move them as far as possible in the time you have with them. I wish for you more time to plan and more support in understanding how to plan deliberately and intentionally so your instruction can be impactful, consistent, and effective. Thank you for the job you do every day and know that you are appreciated and loved!
– Tammy L Jones