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Learning to Appreciate Teacher Appreciation Week


I picked up a copy of Working Mother this week while waiting in a doctor’s office and immediately found an article that made me laugh. In the article, a new mother is blindsided and overwhelmed by Teacher Appreciation Week. What mother—working or not—cannot relate? It is certainly not that parents do not appreciate their children’s teachers. In my opinion, teachers do the most important work imaginable—they build the future and instill knowledge into the minds of the individuals we care about most. Their work is vital, yet somehow they are frequently underpaid and overworked. My appreciation for my children’s teachers is heartfelt.

Even so, I too remember being blindsided and unsure of how I could “show” my appreciation. Heaven forbid my “appreciation” was lacking somehow and I look like a bad mother! Now that my children are older and I have survived several months of Teacher Appreciation Week when adding all the weeks and years multiplied by the number of children I have, a different view of the “work” to be done during Teacher Appreciation Week has emerged. While I still find myself harried in the morning while remembering to bring a flower in to school, or self-conscious about a gift, I have actually come to appreciate Teacher Appreciation Week.

Being grateful and appreciative is one of the most important things we can teach our children. I want my children to be people who recognize and express gratitude for a spouse, for family members, for a co-worker and for friends. Knowing how to do this is key in learning to take care of relationships, and we want our children to be surrounded by healthy relationships. I have also learned to let go of worrying so much about my child’s teacher’s perception of me as a mother and focus instead on something personal and true that will make this very important person in my child’s life feel valued.

A short but heartfelt note, a poem, a book, a plant, a gift certificate–and over the course of a few days perhaps all of the above—have become less traumatic for me as ways of expressing my gratitude. Most importantly, I want my children involved in the process of taking a moment to think about the work that their teachers do for them every day at school. I know that my children will care about what I care about, and if I can find the wherewithal to slow things down for a minute to work with my child to think of something they feel grateful for and then to express that appreciation somehow, my job is done on several fronts. The note my child writes does not need to be perfect. The drawing does not need to take hours to do. The gift does not need to be expensive. My child’s teacher knows my child and will recognize heartfelt when they see it.

As you feel your blood pressure go up and your to-do-list getting even longer this coming Teacher Appreciation Week, remember that you are not alone in your stress or uncertainty. Perhaps, like me, you will recognize yourself in this Working Mother article and laugh. Maybe after a few more Teacher Appreciation Weeks you will find it gets easier and even becomes something you yourself appreciate.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

May 3, 2015

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