The Blog in which I Take on Teacher Appreciation Week

October 1st was National Custodial Worker Day. March 30th was National Doctors Day. April 8th was Be Kind to Lawyers Day. May 4th was International Firefighter’s Day. May 19th is National Accountants Day. Did you celebrate these days? What did you do? Maybe you decorated your doctor’s office door, brought a latte to your favorite lawyer, or had everyone in the office contribute a flower for a bouquet for the audit team? Maybe you brought in a bucket of candy for the firefighters and had the kiddos make a craft you found on Pinterest for the custodian in the building. And this week is National Nurse Appreciation Week. What did you do for your favorite nurse? Throw up a shout out on Facebook or throw up on her?

 

But it’s also National Teacher Appreciation Week. We’re doing all these things… except for maybe the throw up although I won’t say it isn’t possible. And we’re doing them with gusto.10178064_10202966784624987_4222024786503195568_n

 

And I’m not sure it’s such a good idea. Before you label me a teacher hater, I must say that 1) I’ve been in the classroom… taught high school English and 2) my own kids have had teachers who have done amazing work with them, bringing them along in their skills and in their development.

 

What I mean is that I think appreciation of teachers has derailed. The week has become more about how we can outdo each other, how we can make our kids look good, how we can make ourselves look good, by buying and creating more, more, more. Is that what appreciation is really about? Is it really about handing your teacher a bag of candy so that by the end of the morning parade she’s looking at a Halloween haul of candy and dreading it’s siren song to her from the bottom drawer of her desk all day? Is it really about who can bring in the biggest bouquet of flowers so that the classroom looks more like a funeral parlor than an institution of learning? Is it about who has the cutest Pinterest perfect door covering? Is it really about the pats on the back we give ourselves for that cute idea, that amazing follow-through, the perfect execution of a week of snacks and coffees and lunches and breakfasts for our teachers all in the name of … appreciating teachers or our own vanity?

 

In fact, what does appreciation really look like? Do we know?

 

What makes you feel appreciated?

 

Appreciation is closely akin to love and we all feel it in different ways. Some feel loved or appreciated when another spends money on them. Some feel loved/appreciated when another takes time to do something with them. Some feel loved/appreciated by kind words and actions and physical touch. The five love languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch, according to the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

 

So, I’m wondering if we’re really meeting the needs of our teachers by bringing them food and coffee and candy and flowers? Some, yes, but all of them? Words of affirmation in a sweet, spontaneously made card might have more meaning, or volunteering to run a center or an activity or to take home a project and help complete it, cut it out, grade it might have more meaning for another. Taking a teacher out for coffee or inviting a teacher to a special, off-site event just for her might be more meaningful for another. All of these things are more about the teacher and less about us… the parents and the kids.

 

Appreciation shouldn’t be relegated to just one week or day either. It is an organic emotion that springs up when someone does something helpful. Last night, Clara offered to put away my ice pack when I was finished icing my sore muscles. Boy, did I appreciate that! I didn’t wait until Kid Appreciation Day to share my feelings with her. I did it right there, in the moment. Last fall, Joseph was so excited about the fun things he was doing in his kindergarten classroom that he wanted to take flowers to his teacher. He picked them, arranged them, and carried them to her after school … that very day. It meant more to him and probably to her at the time than his paper flower (because of allergies his school is not allowed to have flowers in the classroom) will be in the midst of all the other children’s flowers on Friday.1238389_10201900784339364_455004882_n

 

No, appreciation should be a habit… just like joy and gratitude. Appreciation for me runs deep. Somewhere in the world, there is a woman to whom I am deeply indebted. She is my birthmother. And instead of aborting me, she gave me life. Recognizing it wouldn’t be an easy road for her or for me, she gave me up for adoption. And then the indebtedness is to the parents who adopted me, raised me, gave me everything they could give, and taught me about the greatest gift… the gift of salvation through Jesus.

 

And there it is… the biggest appreciation of all… for a gift I don’t feel worthy to have received. But it was given and it would be given again if necessary. Because of this gift, I am free from the fear of death, I am a beloved daughter of the Most High God, and I can live freely knowing that He will provide what I need most, when I need it most, and in ways that are better and more perfect than I can ever imagine. Appreciation may, in fact, not be a strong enough word! If I live my life without gratitude and appreciation for this gift, then I am living as an entitled, greedy brat. Yuck.

 

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sing some praises, offer some appreciation to my God. And then maybe I’ll see if there is a Tea Purveyor Appreciation Day coming soon.

 

 

 

 

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