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Topic: What's Wrong With Our National Teacher Appreciations?
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
What's Wrong With Our National Teacher Appreciations?
Posted: May 14, 2013 1:50 PM
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FYI - Bill Henk is a former chair of our C&I Department here at
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, now Dean of the School of
Education at Marquette University.
From The Marquette Educator, Thursday, May 9, 2013. See
What's Wrong With Our National Teacher Appreciations?

By Bill Henk

National Teacher Appreciation Day rolled around again this past
Tuesday, just as it does every other year.

It came and went with little public attention. No hoopla. No
fanfare. No fuss. No pomp. No circumstance.

A little blip on the radar screen. If that.

In fact, all of National Teacher Appreciation Week so far hasn't
fared any better.

Such is the life of teachers in America. It's not like that
everywhere. In the countries that enjoy international acclaim for
their educational systems, teaching is a revered profession. That's
not a coincidence in my view. Instead, back in the good old U. S. of
A, teachers might rightfully lament, like the late comedian Rodney
Dangerfield, "I don't get no respect. No respect at all."

And that's at the heart of my question about what's wrong with
national teacher appreciation. My answer is short and sweet - it's
not nearly enough. Not a day or a week or a month or a year or a
decade of appreciation suffices. We should honor teachers every day,
every week, every month, every year - in perpetuity.

By contrast, nationally and within our own state, teachers have had
to endure public vilification the past few years. The media and
others with reform agendas of questionable motivation and merit have
portrayed teachers as inept, uncaring, lazy, and greedy. One major
result has been that significantly fewer young people of
extraordinary promise choose teaching as a profession. Why would
they? After all, they have options with far more earning potential,
where they can enjoy some measure of - you guessed it - respect.

Advocating For Teachers

Recognizing that harsh reality, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Area Deans
of Education (MMADE), a group I currently co-chair, decided to do its
part in affirming teachers.
[ ] In our
experience, the overwhelming majority of them aren't anything at all
like the way they've been depicted. The teachers we know are smart,
talented, dedicated, capable, passionate, caring, and hard-working
educators. Consequently, we felt that it was high time for someone
else, especially a group like ours, to stand up for them. They
clearly deserve our respect and advocacy.

As a result, next year we will be hosting a special event on October
17th at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee called "Celebrating
Teachers and Teaching." [] We plan to
make this gala an annual event. This year's theme is urban
education. Next year the event will be held at Alverno College with
the theme of servant leadership, and then it will come to Marquette
as a celebration of literacy.

In subsequent years all of our member institutions, a group that
includes Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll University, Concordia
University, MATC, Mount Mary College, and Wisconsin Lutheran College,
will proudly take their turn hosting. Among other things, attendees
can expect an engaging keynote speaker and remarks from other local
celebrities and dignitaries.

At the heart of the program will be teaching awards that honor
graduates of our licensure programs at our institutions. We will be
giving one award to an early career teacher and five awards to those
who are more experienced. Each year we will seek nominations for
candidates who graduated from our teacher preparation programs or
completed licensure programs through those programs, and who teach in
the metropolitan Milwaukee area. We completed this first year's
solicitation recently by casting a wide net, which produced several
nominations. Now we look forward to the review process unfolding.

A Personal Wake-Up Call for Advoacy

Shifting gears to a personal and related note on teacher
appreciation, I was squarely reminded last week of just how hard it
is to be a teacher. I volunteered to spend all of last Friday
helping out at my daughter's Catholic school (St. Mary's in Hales
Corners), and most of my service occurred in her first grade
classroom. I volunteered last year, too, and came home exhausted.
But I thought that was because I did a fair amount of atypical
physical labor - mostly lugging library books from the first to the
second floor, spending a lot of time on my feet doing bus and recess
duty in the playground area, cleaning tables in the cafeteria, going
up and down steps making deliveries- that kind of thing.

This year was different. Audrey's teacher, Ms. Cimpl, knew about my
educational background and decided to put me to work doing - of all
things - teaching. The expectations were modest, and I welcomed
them. I read books to the kids, gave the spelling test, circulated
to check their work, and did an honest-to-goodness lesson on nouns
and adjectives. Although I loved feeling my old teaching juices
flowing and my once well-heeled instructional instincts kicking in, I
felt the stress of everything I had to do to keep 27 precious first
graders, with an endless supply of energy, engaged in their learning.

And guess what? I went home twice as exhausted as last year!

So what should your takeaway about teacher appreciation be from this
post? Although it's definitely been too little, it's NOT TOO LATE.
Celebrate teachers!
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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