What IS Teacher Appreciation? It's Like Finding Money in Your Pocket

May 05, 2017

Once, while out for a jog, I found $5 on the side of the road and I am pretty sure I said “SWEET!” out loud. I remembered that recently, when I found a $20 in my pocket. I think the thoughts and words associated with that moment were also “SWEET!” I’ve found other fun and cool things in my house too; an old iPod loaded with songs that were cool years ago; a plastic cup from a cool restaurant that’s the perfect size; a boarding pass for a transatlantic flight I took; a mug that a student gave me more than a decade ago. The thing that ties all that together is not so much the value, but that they are mine and I found them again. I liked them and I forgot I had them and I got to see them as new again. I hadn’t “lost” them, I put them away and didn’t go get them later- until time let me rediscover them. That is a nice feeling.

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Teacher Appreciation Week is a $20 found in a jacket pocket. It is always one of those things that I put away and did not think about until that email came that says teachers can wear jeans for teacher appreciation week. It’s always nice to get a card or maybe (if you’re lucky) a lunch. You know you are appreciated most of the year, you know you work harder than people outside Education would understand, and getting a little recognition is nice. A principal once brought me an ice cream sandwich during Teacher Appreciation Week, that was awesome. Another year students brought a cart with iced tea. Those little things are awesome. Those little things just make you say “SWEET!”

I ran into a former student the other day. He was working at the grocery store, but he saw me at the other end of the aisle and called out “Mr. Cummings!” He has a year left before he finishes his business degree and plans on taking the LSAT soon to apply to law school. He made sure to tell me that he got an 'A' back in his Freshman Comp class and that he would think about what I had said in class to make sure he was writing well. That’s teacher appreciation. A little while back I was at a football game and ran into another former student. They also went out of their way to grab me and tell me that they had made an 'A' in their Shakespeare class. That’s teacher appreciation. One of the cool parts of my job is that I get to visit lots of different schools and work with a bunch of really dedicated educators. Seeing the work you do in your schools gives my job meaning. This particular school happened to have a younger English teacher who sought me out after my presentation and that moment of realization hit me hard. I taught that kid. That kid wasn’t a kid anymore either. They were married, had a child and had been teaching for a few years. They said to me “I wanted you to know, you were one of the teachers who inspired me to become a teacher too.” That moment was way better than finding a $20. That was winning the lottery. I do hope you know that you know you are appreciated. I hope that you have a moment when you can’t help but say “SWEET!” The coolest thing about being an educator is that sometimes we can forget about the impact we do have until one day it finds you in a grocery store and lets you know. That is the real teacher appreciation.

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If you couldn't tell already, Tyler's passion for education and for his students is tremendous. Before coming to work at SchoolStatus, Tyler was a classroom teacher for 13 years. Now, he brings trainings to teachers all over the south.  When it comes to Changing Education, Forever, Tyler is on the front lines. Find out more about what he is bringing to you here

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