In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to take a few minutes to express my gratitude to the people who make it possible for me to do the best job in the world:
Parents: I can’t thank parents enough for supporting what I do in the classroom by doing what they do at home. All I have to do is run off homework and send it home. The parents have to structure a time and place for my students to do it. And then check it so my students can redo it. Neatly. And then make sure it gets back into a backpack. All this while trying to cook dinner after an exhausting day at work.
Custodians: I just finished a science unit with my fourth graders called “Land and Water.” Do the math. There was sand, soil, clay and mud on my classroom floor for six weeks. Yet every morning it was clean again.
Para-educators: The lady who works in my class, Miss Natalya, was once a math professor in Russia. Now she works on our para team, doing all the other stuff that makes it possible for us to focus on teaching; working one-on-one with the neediest students, supervising recess and lunch, and doing crossing duty.
Office Staff: I was on the hiring team for our current office manager. When she came in for her interview, she asked what the job entailed. “You get interrupted for a living,” I replied, and it’s true. These people take care of all the logistics and paperwork for an entire school, when they’re not dispensing Adderall, Band-Aids and ice packs or supervising the kids who stop by to “visit with the principal.”
School Administrators: My principal spends his long days conducting focused and comprehensive evaluations, talking to upset parents, conducting focused and comprehensive evaluations, setting up the lunch tables, conducting focused and comprehensive evaluations, supervising the lunchroom, conducting focused and comprehensive evaluations, facilitating meetings, conducting focused and comprehensive evaluations, and supervising the bus lines. Yet he’s always smiling.
District Administrators: There’s a lot going on over at the administration building. There’s curriculum to order, trainings to run, human resources to manage and budgets to balance. My district is blessed with some incredible talent at the district level; they push us to rethink how we go about our jobs and support us while we learn.
Our Association: There’s a reason why we have planning time, dental care, health insurance, collaboration time, teacher-led professional development, National Board bonuses and representation when have a conflict with our administrators. It’s because we have a union.
Educational Service Districts: I never really understood the weird little “ESDs” wedged into the bureaucratic niche between the state and district. But I’ve recently done some work with the Puget Sound ESD and I’ve come to appreciate their work in supporting professional development and advocating for the most marginalized families in our school communities.
The Elected People: School Boards, state legislators and US lawmakers all have a say in what and how I teach. We all have the right – and responsibility – to question what they do, but not one of us can doubt their intentions. Ultimately, the only thing they really want is the only thing we really want: student learning.
Higher Ed: Teachers don’t train themselves; colleges and universities do, and I’ve had the privilege over the years to work with a lot of the people who work in those colleges. I’ve always been impressed with their dedication and focus on training the next generation of teachers.
And finally, CSTP: There’s a whole lot of non-profit organizations focused on education, but my favorite by far is The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession. Their name says it all; they focus on promoting teacher leadership and amplifying the teacher voice on educational policy. And they sponsor this blog!
Your turn! Who did I miss? Who else needs to be thanked?