Commentary, Education

NC schoolteacher: What I want for Teacher Appreciation Week

Anca Stefan — Image: Twitter

For Teacher Appreciation Week I don’t want candy and dollar-off coupons. I don’t want apple-shaped lapel pins and cutesy symbolism about superheroes. I don’t want automated corporate emails that use my profession as a marketing scheme to sell me quick fixes in glossy covers.

I want a career that feels solid.

I want a daily schedule that feels sustainable — that allows me to plan and teach and reflect and learn.

And rest.

And live.

I want the opportunity to offer meaningful, ongoing, prompt feedback to my students, and the ability to form meaningful mentorship connections with them. I want them considered and referred to as whole people, not as a series of digits in a never-ending graph “lookbook” compiled by showy data management companies who don’t even know their names. I want to know their parents, to attend their recitals, to know and help them reach their dreams.

When we parent three children, achieving all this is immeasurably challenging.

When we teach 50 students per day, doing this well is possible.

When we’re tasked with teaching 120 students every day, and are interrupted by drills of Scantron bubbling and checkbox checking, it is impossible.

I want class sizes that are reasonable, and I want a fitting fleet of competent, well-trained, well-cared-for professional colleagues to raise our kids into their infinite potential with the best possible care and tools.

I want a physical classroom and building that don’t flood, or mold, or rust.

I want a beautiful, clean space to work where architects and planners have invested their science and artistry into the daily learning experiences of students. I want shady trees and patches of grass to lay a blanket on in the spring and fall, and outdoor classrooms where we can study and observe and discuss ideas in peace and with leisure. I want natural light in every classroom, I want collaborative spaces, and large work tables, and well-resourced libraries and laboratories, and art performance spaces with lighting and ladders and sound equipment, and play spaces for games and team-building and fun too. I want the gardeners and groundskeepers and building maintenance staff to be treated, and trained, and paid as mentors, and experts — as educators.

I want cafeteria halls with locally-sourced food, and accompanying classes where students can learn to grow, and prepare, and serve their peers healthy food with pride in themselves and in their culture, and community. I want us to teach and practice sound ecological practices. I want us to prepare a new generation to care for a convalescent planet that is too hurt to continue being neglected and abused. We know better, and we owe it to our students to prepare them to do better by teaching them what we’ve learned from our mistakes. I want farm and cafeteria staff to be treated, and trained, and paid as mentors, and experts — as educators.

I want healthcare benefits that allow me to get preventive care, to access cures, to see a therapist in order to avoid getting to breakdown or crisis or flight. Read more