Friday 5th October is World Teachers’ Day.
What does that mean?
Well it is a day dedicated to celebrating teachers. It was established in 1994 to commemorate the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO agreement which standardises the status and work conditions of teachers globally. The day is aimed at raising awareness of the role of teachers and appreciating the contribution that teachers make to the world.
Teachers do an incredible job.
They often work in very challenging circumstances but continue to fight for the education and general wellbeing of their students. Over the years I have been blessed to work with some inspirational teachers.
The right teacher can transform a life, forever.
Are you aware of the impact you are having?
What always amazes me is how little time teachers spend appreciating the incredible job they do.
Without teachers there would be no lawyers, no doctors, no builders, no-one would be able to read the street signs or add up the money in their pocket.
When I go into schools I remind teachers of this, I talk a lot about gratitude and appreciation because I think this is a key factor in teacher stress.
If someone feels valued and appreciated it gives them a glow and a happiness that can’t be bought. Unfortunately in education the thanks are often few and far between and the criticisms and demands are many. This does not make for a happy workforce.
We are told when writing children’s reports that we should have three positive comments for every constructive criticism, yet when we get feedback from colleagues this ratio is rarely adhered to.
You may be reading this and contemplating the struggles of your job. Beginning to appreciate the wonders that you create in your classroom everyday.
Some teachers will never read this though. They are teaching in schools with no electricity, often no paper, very few books and the children they teach walk many miles to attend school. This is the reality of teaching in many parts of the world.
Teaching against the odds
You may know that I have taught in some challenging areas in the UK. These are a walk in the park compared to teaching in some parts of the world.
Teachers contact me every week from places such as Syria and India. They are struggling to cope with the demands of circumstances around them and they are often still being given unrealistic expectations in school. One teacher contacted me asking if I could help. He had just been told he had to teach all his lessons in English. He was a Hindi speaker and none of his children had ever learned any English previously.
I also work closely with a teacher in Syria. They are desperately trying to help their children stay calm but the conflict around them makes it almost impossible. With limited internet access they have to be careful what they access online.
How you cope with teaching in that environment I just don’t know.
The nearest I have ever come was teaching in Bradford during the Manningham Riots. That was nothing like the scale as the conflicts in Syria but for the first time I was faced with two very clear camps in my classroom; the children whose fathers and older brothers were out rioting and the children whose fathers were police officers, and in the NHS. It was a very strange atmosphere and affected my teaching in ways I could never have predicted.
So let’s take time to appreciate all teachers but particularly those teaching in situations we can’t comprehend ourselves. The teachers in the US who are being trained to use a gun in order to protect their students. Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend their students during an attack. Teachers in war torn areas who are risking their lives to give the children they teach a chance and some continuity. The amazing teachers who go above and beyond every day to ensure their students have food and clothes and a book to read.
But most of all I would like to thank YOU.
If you are reading this and you are a teacher. THANK YOU! You are doing an amazing job.
I know that you don’t just play with kids all day. That you don’t start at 9am and finish at 3pm. I know that those “long holidays” are a myth and that you regularly sacrifice time with your family or friends to make sure you get all your planning or marking done. I also know that you do it because you love the children in your care and that makes you a very, very special person.
Take time to tell a teacher you know that you appreciate everything they do this week. It will make their day.