Showing Appreciation to Your Child’s Teacher
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Teachers are no different from others in wanting to feel appreciated. They value the hugs and kind words from their students but they also need validation from parents. Yet, when it comes to teachers, parents are often quick to criticize but slow to praise. It should not come as a surprise that many teachers feel underappreciated and overburdened.
We have no doubt come a long way since the 1930’s when teachers in the south were required to agree “to get at least eight hours of sleep while maintaining a healthy diet, and to consider herself at all times a willing servant of the school board and the townspeople.” But we still have a ways to go before teachers receive the recognition and status they deserve.
Perhaps what parents fail to appreciate most of all are the demands and pressures of teaching. If you need convincing of the rigors of teaching, try placing yourself in the teacher’s shoes. Think of some birthday parties you have given for your child and then imagine being responsible for 25 children for six hours a day for 180 days a year.
If you are pleased with the efforts of your child’s teacher, let her know. A short personal note of gratitude describing specifically how your child has benefited from the teacher will likely be far more appreciated than one more bottle of perfume. For parents who wish to give something tangible to the teacher, consider a gift made by your child such as baked goods, a pencil holder, a papier mache pin, or a bookmark. You might even wrap the gift in artwork by your child. Another option is to buy something the teacher can use in her class such as a special book, a poster, or an educational game.
Don’t necessarily stop there. Consider sending a note to the principal lauding the teacher’s efforts or if warranted submit the teacher’s name to the principal for consideration as school district teacher of the year. You might even send a letter to the local newspaper praising the teacher or highlighting a particular school activity. Such actions will in small measure help restore the respect which educators enjoyed in the past but feel is lacking today — and will in large measure reinforce your relationship with the teacher.