Appreciation for our teachers...
It is Teacher Appreciation Week and it's a time for us to appreciate the work large and small that teachers do with children in their classroom. Many of us will receive such open appreciation this week. And it's likely to make us feel very good - warm and fuzzy. What I've come to realize is that for me, Teacher Appreciation Week is less about receiving appreciation myself, and more about pausing to reflect about amazing individuals who have touched me deeply and have helped to shape me into the person (and the teacher) that I am now. In truth teachers come in many forms and from many walks of life. Many of the best teachers don't have official certifications. Many of them have never been to a University or even expressed an interest in becoming officially “a teacher”. Yet , the lessons they have taught us are profound. It's not because of our occupation that we are teachers. It's in the act of teaching that teacher help the learner to discover something more about themselves than was apparent before. Teaching, in this sense, is not a noun, it is not a profession, it is not a qualification… it is not an entitlement. Teaching is a verb. Without action, there is no learning, without learning there is no teaching. My most influential teachers have been from many walks of life. Some have been present for long periods of my life and others just a moment. Each came into my life for a purpose - the lesson. The truth is my best teachers changed me.
Over the years I danced in competition but the medals and trophies were never important to Mrs. Shaw. She’d sometimes downplay our individual accomplishments and teach us all the meaning of humility (often sharply). For Mrs. Shaw dancing gave us an opportunity to give back to our community. Many times a year we performed at Senior’s Residences, mental health facilities and community festivals. We learned to be generous with our gifts and to give without receiving anything in return.
I’ve been lucky to have amazing teachers in my life and while I appreciate the sentiment of Teacher Appreciation Week, I ask each of you to consider reaching out and connecting with the people who have been your most important and influential teachers. Teacher Appreciation Week isn’t special in and of itself, arguably it loses its meaning if it is an obligatory or sparks an entitlement in those of us that carry the title of “teacher”. I challenge you to reach out and reflect back the contribution your greatest teachers have made in your life. It’s often said that teachers plant seeds that they may never see bloom. It is truly a generous act to allow someone to see the “flowers” - to see how their actions have had an influence on another’s life. You spend every day as parents and teachers paying it forward to our own children and students, for just one day this week, see if you can’t pay it back.