Teacher Appreciation Week – Hearing the Teacher Voice

mdr-teacher-appreciation-week-18It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and we’d like to take a realistic look at what it means to be a teacher in America today.  Some teachers have the resources, class size, environment, and salary that are well planned, well designed, fair, and balanced for their district and school. However, in many parts of the country, poor funding has resulted in challenges in nearly every facet of their profession. They face hurdles and roadblocks towards making changes that might help their unique classroom needs. They are demanded to teach toward testing metrics that are difficult for the variety of learners they have, in many cases.  The materials, class size, and salary are also often poor representations of what it takes to live and work as a successful teacher.

Luckily, the dialogue that is occurring around the country is one of reform, changes to the status quo, and ending “teaching to the test” in some instances. Initiatives like the Every Student Succeeds Act are allowing for different barometers for student success to be prioritized – creating windows of opportunities for software vendors and services by the way. These changes do not happen in a vacuum though, and teachers are standing up for their hard-earned profession, that has taken endless amounts of dedication, perseverance, and the patience of one we might call a saint.

So in this Teacher Appreciation Week, we at MDR will say this: Dear Teachers, We hear your voices loud and clear.

The Actual Teacher Work Day

The average teacher workday is about 12 hours, not the 8 it takes to actually teach classes. All of the other responsibilities that fall under the umbrella of teaching really do take up a lot of time. This includes curriculum planning, office hours, administrative duties, and grading, grading, and more grading.

The median pay for teachers from K – 12 is about $58,000, but this is skewed enormously in certain states where salaries are comparatively quite low for the same efforts, creating unworkable cost of living situations. Teachers are starting to take a stand.

The Teacher Fight for a Fair Salary

Arizona is the latest location for the national debate over the comparatively low pay for its teachers. Teachers in Arizona earn about $35 – $45,000 on average. After a six-day walkout, with teachers refusing to work until their salary issues were addressed, the Arizona governor signed a plan this past week to give striking teachers a 20 percent pay raise.

The Arizona walkout is part of an ongoing national rebellion over low teacher pay. The movement started in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in a raise, and spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and, most recently, Colorado.

How Parents, Guardians, Students, and Even Vendors Can Show Their Teacher Appreciation

This year, for Teacher Appreciation Week, students should understand the reality of the teacher workday, and perhaps with the help of their parent or guardian could show their appreciation for how hardworking these teachers are. Show up to class, do their best, and consider giving a teacher gift that will really make them smile. These include gift cards, supply discounts, funding a classroom project, and sponsoring a staff party. Vendors, this same list of ideas for teacher gifts applies to you too, to show how much you appreciate the teachers who take their precious time to use your product, whether they want to or not.

Some of my fondest memories were created by teachers in a classroom: from Mr. Jackson’s fifth grade class, to Mrs. Koszuro and Ms. Arena in my high school years.  I developed a love of writing and literature during these formative times, and these teachers helped. We can only hope that despite challenges of the profession, teachers are able to see the lifelong impact they create. Share your stories and generosity with them – they will certainly appreciate it.