The Invisible Work of Teaching

It's worth noting, in a blog in which I offer a teacher's perspective on education, that I am not currently teaching. I don't want to begin a conversation about education without first acknowledging the incredibly important and difficult job that teachers do. 

I often find myself telling my son's teacher, "thanks for everything." And I absolutely mean it, but it doesn't seem like enough. So much of what teachers do is invisible to parents. In an effort to offer teachers a more complete expression of gratitude- here are 7 things teachers do that parents don't usually get to see. 

Dear Teacher- Thank you for EVERYTHING- even the invisible stuff

1. Last fall, when one of our germy kids gave you the stomach flu and you were sick all night, you crawled over to your laptop in the morning to send off your lesson plans- annotated with all kinds of important information you knew about our kids, and wanted the substitute to know. Thank you for making sure that everyone's needs were met.

2. When you shop - at Target or Amazon or the garage sale down the road - you do it with two lists. One, things your family needs/wants. Two, classroom needs/wants. We know you don't make much money, and yet you still spend a portion of it on our kids. Thank you for buying that book you knew Devan would love, and those plastic Easter eggs that made learning fractions much more entertaining.

3. In the summer, you spend a considerable chunk of time in professional development workshops, reading children's literature, planning lessons and perfecting your classroom setup. Thank you for working so hard for your students- before you even meet them. 

4. You expend a lot of effort communicating with parents. We love getting updates about our children, and appreciate being told when there are problems. Parents aren't always as respectful and kind as we could be. Thank you for putting up with us anyway. 

5. Planning periods are never enough time to plan. You often spend that time in team meetings, preparing materials or attending IEP meetings. So you come in early, stay late, and bring home piles of work. Thank you.

6. When students need more support than they are getting, you advocate for our children. You ask colleagues for help, request academic support from specialists and research community programs that can provide resources. If a school procedure or rule is hurting a student, you meet with your principal to rectify the situation. And when curriculum, technology or materials aren't what you need them to be, you tell your district administration.  As parents we can't see this work, but thank you for going to bat for our kids. 

7. You think about our kids. Lying awake at night, driving to work, drinking coffee on your day off. You worry, you brainstorm, you plan. Thank you. 

And this is my thank you- to my fourth grade teacher. Only 25 years overdue. 


Don't wait for teacher appreciation week. Write a thank you to your teacher.