Teacher Appreciation Day

teacher appreciation day

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day. It is something I have been vaguely aware of in the past due to Americans on social media, but I’m pretty sure British people don’t celebrate.

I think we should start.

There’s a financial awareness game that this wonderful organisation called CHYPPS do in schools sometimes. In the activity the students firstly pick a job, then pick a home, then make choices based on how much money they have left. Do they have enough to shop at Tescos each week, or do they need to shop ad Aldi?

One of the options for job in this game is to be a teacher. We all know that teachers don’t get paid enough, especially for the hours they do and the stress they are put under. Students pick out this as a job thinking that it’ll serve them well. It’s always interesting to see the point at which they realise that they really have to cut back on other areas of the game, like housing and food, just to be able to survive as a teacher.

Many a time students have come out of this lesson with a renewed sense of respect for those who try to educate them.

One of the most challenging things of any job in my sector of education initiative projects is that while we know that teachers REALLY want to do all these extra things, they aren’t able to find the time for a careers fair when there’s 30% more GCSE content to teach with no extra time. Why should they give me time with their year 10s to write CVs when it’s not essential for any of the things they’re obliged to teach?

Many teachers understand how important it is to get people like me in to help students be more prepared for their futures. They know that an Enterprise Day will help disengaged students be a bit more focused. They know that they need to be hitting one encounter with an employer each year for their students, therefore need to get professionals in.

But that’s not what they’re asked to do in their job. In many cases it’s not even what they’re able to do even if they wanted to.

I feel that education right now is all about playing a tug of war with the student in the middle. Some people think that education is all about learning lots of things and passing tests, aiming for a great meritocratic life. Others think that education is all about learning how to solve challenges yourself in your own time, to prepare you for the adult world. Then there are those who believe that education is the toolkit to prepare young people to be great citizens, working in a well-matched job and contributing to life.

People who believe different variations of those things above are all making decisions on the students’ lives. From turning GCSE grades from letters to numbers, to deciding that all schools must achieve all of the Gatsby Benchmarks by 2020, lots of different people are changing the rules of the game without talking together to make sure it all fits well together.

Spoilers: it doesn’t fit well together.

What you end up with is frazzled teachers trying to get all their students to jump through the hoops and do all the things, then I come along and remind them that they ought to be doing some of my things as well, which makes them even more frazzled.

There are excellent schools who build this kind of thing into their school year and plan to have initiatives come in to run extra activities, but it really isn’t always possible to do so. How is a school coping with dropped exam results and teacher shortages meant to cope when they also need to juggle those “nice to haves” as well?

Through my previous role I’ve met some really outstanding and passionate teachers and school staff. From those who make sure careers and employment activities are a priority, to those who work extra hard to convince those above them that this should be done. Seeing schools every day, I am lucky to have been inspired by so many amazing teachers doing their best in this ship with no real destination.

This Teacher Appreciation Day I’d like to shout out to all the teachers and leaders who work ridiculously hard not just in passing knowledge on to the next generation, but deal with curve balls thrown at them and goal posts moved away from them. To those who kindly give their students time with me to learn life skills that they won’t be on any test. To those who pitch to their leaders and try to show how important This Kind of Thing is.

Thank you to all the amazing teachers I’ve worked with – and this week when I meet my new schools and my new students, it’s a thank you in advance for being open to our project. I can’t wait to start working with you.

Let’s hear it for the teachers.

Comments

  1. Right back at ya!

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