It’s that time of year again when you know your students are wondering what gift to get you this year. Students have given me some beautiful gifts that were given with gratitude and from the heart. But there have also been some gifts with an interesting point of view of what a teacher might like. Yes, that means I’ve gotten some very “interesting” presents over the years. But I’ve appreciated every single one! Even the one which was a bag of coal!
But what gift would REALLY make a teacher happy? What would a teacher write down on her or his list for Santa? So I’ve come up with a list of 5 MUST HAVE presents I know all teachers want. Maybe we don’t ask for these outright, but in the back of our minds, we do wish for these!
MUST HAVE TEACHER PRESENT #1
Respect. Like Aretha Franklin says…R-E-S…P-E-C-T, that is what a teacher needs! After 31 years of teaching, I have noticed a dramatic drop in respect for teachers from all parts of society. From some administrators, from MOST politicians, from parents and from students. People considered the teacher a wise and fair sage back in the day. Now, all that has changed.
Sometimes we are treated as if we don’t know what we are doing because politicians tell us how and what to teach. Parents treat us like devils sometimes because we report misbehaviors by their children. Students treat us as a bothersome itch when keep on talking while we try to teach or they ignore our teaching altogether.
Of course, there are many wonderful parents, students, and administrators who do go out of their way and treat us respectfully. But what we really want is that respect from everyone.
To the politicians out there: we know what we’re doing! Let us teach! We have the teaching degree, you do not. To the parents who never believe us when we discuss their child’s behavior: you’re doing your child more damage than you can imagine! To the students who seem to think we’re interrupting their day with our teaching: I will still try my hardest to teach you, but remember that you reap what you sow!
MUST HAVE TEACHER PRESENT #2
Less stress. You would think after 31 years of teaching, stress would not be an issue. But it is. Yes, I have stress in all parts of my life, but in the past 10 years teaching has become even more stressful with mandates by politicians, demands by parents and the ever-increasing needs of needier students.
Most people think that teachers just sit at a desk all day and tell students what to do. Nope. I don’t even have a regular desk. I’m always moving around. I teach. Then I work with a group of students. Later, I’m working with one student. The point being? I’m working here! And planning for all those lessons, keeping up with the grading, and the myriad other teaching-related duties a teacher has, the stress can be demanding.
MUST HAVE TEACHER PRESENT #3
A simple thank you. As teachers, we get a silent thank you every time a student learns to do something new or improves. Every time a student lights up with that proverbial light bulb is a thank you. But, I’d like to think that I have one of the most essential jobs in the world which is shaping the future! So I believe society should be more thankful we teachers are so dedicated!
Let’s give teachers ticker-tape parades as a thank you! Society should award teachers a Nobel Prize as a thank you! Let’s reward teachers with multi-million dollar contracts! Shouldn’t teachers also get signing bonuses?
The point being is that teachers need to be thanked more often and in more ways for all we do. I can’t say all 100% of teachers will go above and beyond their duties, but probably 99.99999999% will. Which other professions can say that!
MUST HAVE TEACHER PRESENT #4
Better pay! You’ve heard this one before. If you want to keep attracting the best and brightest to the teaching profession, you have to draw them with a good salary, good benefits, and good working conditions. Many teachers now begin their careers saddled with student debt. No one is going to want to be a teacher if they realize that on a teacher’s salary, they’d still have to live at home with their parents because they would not be able to afford to do so on their own.
For those of us who are veteran teachers, we have gone years without pay raises while the cost of living has continued to go up. I can tell you (and prove to you with receipts) that I spend about $1,000 – $2,000 per year of my own salary on supplemental materials, school supplies and other resources for my class. So over the 31 years of teaching, I probably have spent close to a starting teacher’s salary! We’re not asking to double our pay. We’re asking to be paid a decent wage to support our families!
MUST HAVE TEACHER PRESENT #5
A coffee mug! In my 31 years of teaching, I have gotten a coffee mug EVERY SINGLE YEAR. I’ve said that when I retire, I will open a coffee shop featuring all these mugs. So keep them coming!
What has been your favorite present from a student?
If you could choose one present as a teacher, what would it be?
Let me know in the comments below!