Growing up in a house with a mother for a kindergarten teacher has its benefits. You never run out of crayons or glue and the holiday presents are second to none.
I will never forget my first year teaching in inner city Baltimore. My students came from families who struggled to survive, yet when the holidays rolled around, I was moved to tears by the gifts that were given to me by nearly every student. Those who couldn’t buy, made me something.
Now that my own children are in school, I love putting together thoughtful gifts to make their teachers understand how much they mean to me. It’s not easy (particularly being the control freak that I am) to entrust my children to the care of others for so many hours of so many days.
But as I looked for the perfect gift, I was struck by the fact that I couldn’t give the teachers what I really wanted to give. What they need is not purchasable, even in today’s world where everything seems to be for sale. So I bought some pretty mugs and things to wrap. But I will send this gift via blog, so at least I can virtually make their world a little better.
I am no epidemiologist, but I am going to venture to guess that the number of germs that a teacher comes in contact with in a given day has to be staggering. There is no escape. The elementary school if full of open mouth, no-cover coughers and the middle school has their share of wipe snot on sleevers, and the high school must have a few that are too cool to wash their hands before and after lunch or even using the bathroom. You get the idea. Not to mention the fact that schools have an awful lot of people crammed into small stuffy places.
The teacher that invented Airborne made a mint, and still is raking in the dough. Trust me every teacher must lament, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” when they read the story of Airborne.
Invented By A Teacher
There may be no job more challenging to the immune system than teaching. Imagine a room full of unhappy kids. But one inventive teacher took it upon herself to find a solution that would support her immune system. She worked in collaboration with nutrition experts and herbalists to formulate a remarkable immune support supplement. Her ingenuity eventually led to Airborne® products and what started as a one-off solution is now the go-to brand for immune support across the country
So since I can’t give you a million dollar company, teachers, I would love to at least give you immunity. So that you can save a few more of your 10 sick days a year that you try so hard to save a few to accrue. So that you can one day retire and hope to get paid for some percentage of them. And so that you don’t have to over medicate and teach because you used all of your sick days for your kids or maternity leaves. And can avoid trying to teach with no voice and a pounding headache.
2. Paid Maternity Leave
I know many have seen the article that compares paid maternity leave time around the word, but if you haven’t click on the link below.
As a mom of 4 children, I have seen both sides. After my first two babies I went back rather quickly (4 months and 5 months) because I did not have tenure. A non tenured teacher can only take 4-6 weeks of disability and 12 weeks of FMLA leave. I was lucky because mine were summer babies, I got an extra month or two. But with my third and 4th I took an extended leave. At first I didn’t thin I would want to stay home longer than 6 months, but I took a whole year and a half. It was such a magical time for me. I lost my father that year and the break gave me time to heal. I homeschooled my kids for preschool and started my first blog www.ucanpreschool.wordpress.com. That time with my children is immortalized in my writing and photos, and I still often look back on those posts.
I do realize that some women have to return to work much sooner, but, teachers, I think it would be a great gift. It’s hard to give a classroom full of children and a bag full of paperwork and lesson plans your full attention if you are trying to pump milk between classes or just simply missing your little one.
Staying home isn’t for everyone, but most of the teacher moms and dads I know, would have loved to be home for longer with their babies. It shouldn’t be a choice based on finances.
3. A Yearly Professional Development Retreat
When I worked in a charter school in Newark, they had a tradition of going to a bed and breakfast every winter to help teachers bond and recharge their batteries during the darkest, coldest, most challenging part of the school year. We did do some lesson planning and curriculum work, but mostly we played games, had debates, and broke bread together.
The state of NJ gives teachers and students two days off in November for the NJEA convention, which in all fairness I have never attended. The drive to Atlantic City was just too much for me to leave the kids home so long. But, I am sure that teachers have fun there too, and don’t just sit in workshops.
But professional development in my last district had completely gotten away from any activity that developed anyone professionally or otherwise. It became about the latest state mandate, standardized test, or data analysis and collection. The focus needs to go back to education and helping teachers to develop more engaging best practices and also to learn strategies to help them cope with the stress of teaching in today’s climate.
The demands on teachers has been steadily increasing over the years to the point where teachers have to prioritize constantly. It is impossible for the average teacher to complete 100% of what is expected of them 100% of the time and still teach with any sort or passion. Teachers are tired. And when the leader gets tired, things start to fall apart.
At the end of every week that I taught, on Friday, I would pack up a bag of work to do. By Monday, I had either worked like a dog all weekend to finish as much of the work that I could or I would be left staring guiltily at a full bag of work that I never touched. At the end of every school year that I taught, in June, I would bring home boxes of books that I intended to read, plans I intended to make, complicated lesson or projects that I intended to create over the long summer months. The next thing I knew there would be a week left of summer and my intentions were buried under a mountain of beach sand.
Time is a gift I know that no teacher would return. But it is a gift that is increasingly taken away by assessments, paperwork, and endless meetings.
So teachers, there you have it.
Four gifts that I wish I could give to you. Enjoy your much deserved break and know that there are many out there who truly appreciate you.