Reflections on Teacher Appreciation Week: We Could Do More

Truthfully, I think Teacher Appreciation Week is a missed opportunity to improve teaching and elevate the profession. 

Let me start by saying that I really appreciate teachers and hold them in the highest regard for working so hard for so little money and I’m aware that a great deal of what teachers do goes unnoticed.

That being said, I think a week of appreciating teachers is just too much. Can you think of any other profession that has a week of appreciation for doing their jobs? Is there a doctor appreciation week? A police officer appreciation week? Mother’s Day is just one day and many mothers pushed something the size of a watermelon out of their bodies and are responsible for another human being for…ever (or at least for 18 years)! 

Parents from my children’s three schools organized lovely ways to demonstrate gratitude for teachers, preparing delicious lunches, delivering beverages, collecting for gifts and writing cards. I know my kids’ teachers appreciated how much they were appreciated. However, as a parent and someone who thinks constantly about how we can improve teaching and learning, I can’t help but think this week was a missed opportunity to get parents, students and teachers focused together on this question:

What does great teaching look like and how can we do more of it?

Here’s what I propose: What if there was one teacher appreciation day and the rest of the week was devoted to the celebration of various qualities or actions that help teachers succeed? It might look something like this:

Monday – Love of learning day: Teachers, students and parents celebrate and share something that they love to learn. This would demonstrate and model the importance of lifelong learning, beyond the four walls of the classroom.

Tuesday – Teacher/parent partnership day: Teachers and parents celebrate and share ways they can support one another’s work. This would encourage parents to think about the role they play in education and how they can support teachers throughout the year.

Wednesday – Reflections on great teaching day: Teachers, students and parents share a story or one way that a teacher has had an impact on them. Teachers can share some of their best tips and strategies for effective teaching with one another.  Perhaps schools would select a ‘teacher of the year’ on this day and give specific examples of what makes this teacher have such a powerful impact on student learning.

Thursday – Open classroom day: This is a day devoted to opening up classrooms and learning about what happens there. Parents would be invited to sit quietly inside classrooms, and teachers would be allocated some time to visit one another’s classrooms to observe and learn from peers.

Friday – Teacher Appreciation Day: This would be a great day for all those lunches, treats and gifts to shower teachers with much deserved thanks.

What do you think? Am I being a killjoy or is there a place for encouraging educational excellence in Teacher Appreciation Week?