Sunday, May 8, 2011

Appreciating Teachers

“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.”
Jacques Barzun

            Last week was teachers' appreciation week.  Candy, flowers, potted plants, and home-made cards were no doubt the order of the day.  There's even a good web site,, devoted to teacher appreciation.  But, once again, it deals for the most part with things we can buy or make for teachers.  I wonder if there are other ways we can show our appreciation. 

            During the past week I visited two first grade classrooms: Miss Lazzarini's class at Tavelli Elementary in Fort Collins, CO, and Ms. Herrera's class at Slade Elementary in Laramie, WY.  The week before I had visited Ms. Gimlett's class at Dunn Elementary in Fort Collins.  I read from story books that I hope to publish and found three groups of attentive, bright, inquisitive and frankly, endearing children.  Their rapt attention and then their spontaneous questions, enthusiastic applause, and also their critical judgment were a surprise to me.  They were excited to share with me the stories of their own lives, and those other stories they had read, and to talk about authors we both knew.  One class was working on poetry for mother's day and another was studying authors of fiction. They told me they were now reading chapter books, although they still liked story books as well. Bottom line, I had a blast. 

            I'm used to dealing with the other end of the academic pipeline, college and graduate students, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Then I realized that this is where it all starts.  The teachers I met, and their assistants, were there not only to teach the content of the first grade curriculum but, more importantly, to excite a group of children (from 17 to 26 in number) about the world around them and about the various ways, including books, to explore that wondrous world.  

            So, thank you, Miss Lazzarini, Ms. Herrera, Ms. Gimlett, and all you other teachers of our children and grandchildren.  I hope we don't wait until next year at this time to express our gratitude again.  Every day should be teachers' appreciation day.  As important as the candy, flowers, cards (and, in my day, fancy handkerchiefs) are, I only wish I knew of other ways to express that gratitude.  Any ideas?   If so, please hit the word "comments" below and let me know.  Thank you.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
Carl Jung


  1. This is definitely one profession that is misunderstood, until someone walks a mile in their shoes. I still recall my first grade teacher, Mrs. Marberry.

    Sometimes I think the salary structure for the teaching profession is upside down, and the beginning teachers, K-3 should be making the most.

    Do what you can to keep the good ones around. The children need that positive start.

  2. We all have one we'll never forget. Mine was Donald Holmes, English and Journalism teacher in high school. He taught me more about writing and appreciating words than I can ever repay. I lost him half way through my Junior year, but having him for those two half years made a monumental difference—a lifetime change.

  3. As the saying goes, "If you can read this, thank a teacher." We so often take teachers for granted and, even worse, we seem to heap blame on them for the problems of society. I am grateful for so many great teachers who believed in me and encouraged me to be all that I could be.

    I happen to be married to the ultimate master teacher. I learn daily from him about the gift of teaching. He always quotes his father who said that teaching is a noble profession. He is so right.