This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. I had many wonderful teachers who had a huge role in shaping who I am today. However, if I had to pick one teacher who made the biggest impact in my life, I would have to pick my first grade teacher. Let’s call her Miss. Z.
When I was a child I had a terrible attention span. That’s the case for most children, but my attention span was short even for a child. I was easily distracted by anything. Instead of listening to my teacher, I would play with whatever might be in my hands, or I would turn my attention to what’s going on outside if I happened to be near a window. Sometimes it would be so bad that I would be daydreaming the whole class time and forget to write down the homework. My mother would get furious whenever that happened! Both my parents and teacher started to worry about me. Miss. Z started working on ways to help me, such as giving me extra attention. She also collaborated with my parents. For instance, she would have my parents sit in class with me. My parents also tried to do their part by helping me at home. Miss. Z suggested timing me while I did my homework, which is exactly what my parents did. Miss. Z recognized that I needed a lot of help, but she didn’t lower her expectations for me. She didn’t ignore my struggles, and believed that with help I could be just as successful as my peers.
All of the intervention helped. My attention span is still not great, but it has improved tremendously since elementary school. I am very grateful for Miss. Z. Here in the U.S., a teacher’s job is not easy, especially if the teacher is working in a public school. Many classrooms in public schools have classes with around 30 students. It is not easy to pay attention to that many children. Also, the work load can be very heavy. On top of planning lessons the teacher has to grade the classroom assignments, homework assignments, projects, and tests of around 30 students. The teaching profession also doesn’t receive as much respect as some other professions. These are some of the few reasons many teachers here in America often leave the profession behind after a short while. In fact, statistics show that around 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years, and around 52 percent of current American public school teachers have 10 or less years of teaching experience.
However, teaching is a very significant profession. Pretty much every other profession starts with a teacher. Whatever profession a person is in he or she needed to learn how to do his or her job, and the person who taught him or her was a teacher. Also, a teacher’s job is not just to teach. In the case of children, the teacher is like a second parent, and spends the most time with his or her students outside of the parents. It is the teacher’s job to pay close attention to the students and notice anything out of the ordinary. A child may be going through abuse at home, or might have a disability (the latter was the case for me), and it is part of a teacher’s job to catch these possibilities. If a child is struggling at home or is struggling with a disability, the child will also struggle to learn.
Despite all the hardships that come along with the teaching profession, my teacher Miss. Z still managed to notice my struggles, and give me the attention I needed to overcome them. I appreciate her and teachers like her who genuinely care about their students and take their jobs seriously. To all teachers here in the U.S. and around the world, Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!
Facts about the Teaching Profession for a National Conversation about Teaching. United States of America Department it Education, https://www2.ed.gov/documents/respect/teaching-profession-facts.doc