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With Regina Barreca

Cheers -- We Deserve It!

Because only rarely do we teachers have cheerleaders welcoming us with pom-poms when we arrive for work, I thought I would do a little brass-band whooping and hollering for OUR SIDE.

Therefore, in that spirit, imagine a bevy of flag-waving, tinsel-bedecked, and balloon-carrying admirers offering their congratulations and encouragement as follows:

  • Heres to the teachers who understand that they can make or break the spirit of any of their students at any moment; who understand that each student projects the light or shadow of those teachers legacy into the future.
  • Heres to the teachers who can make their students smile -- in recognition, in amusement, even despite themselves -- because they know the teachers humor is a way of admitting them into the charmed circle of the educators knowledge. Theyll remember the stories long after theyve forgotten the names. Generous and abundant laughter is one of the best ways of making a group feel connected, feel whole, feel valued, feel strong.
  • Heres to the ones who push their students into better, stronger and more original work by refusing to accept what is half-finished or half-hearted. And heres to the teachers who understand that not everyone can be great at everything. (Specifically, heres to the math teacher I had in sixth grade who saw tears in my eyes and understood that even when I was doing my best I was going to do only adequate work. She helped me get to the point where adequate was just fine for both of us. Most important, she stopped me from torturing myself in an attempt to be something I could never be: perfect).
  • Heres to the ones who stay after class when somebody needs to talk, or cry, or explain, or ask questions.
  • Heres to the teachers who are eager to work with the families of students who want to make life better for their own kids and everybodys elses kids as well; for the teachers, administrators and aides who listen, understand, and learn from the parents perspectives. .
  • Heres to the ones who show up for (at least some of) the school plays, concerts, games and fairs -- even when they arent required to be there. Heres to those who are, however difficult it might be on occasion, managing to look like theyre actually having a good time and getting a kick out of the celebratory nature of the event. .
  • Heres to teachers who read aloud: who breathe life into a passage, who mesmerize with language, who forever intertwine their voices with the words of a book. .
  • Heres to the coaches who get up on cold winter mornings and yell encouragement from the sidelines, who nurture and cheer, who advise and applaud, and who never bully, punish, or coerce. Heres to the ones who let everybody -- all those who show up and who understand the game -- play.
  • Heres to the school nurses who hear more stories than they can ever tell, who mend what needs mending, whether obvious or buried, who soothe what needs soothing and who are trusted with the enormous task of deciding what to do when a child is hurt.
  • Heres to the teachers who say, Go ahead, color outside the lines. Heres a blue heart, a pink star, and a gold slipper to the ones who can not only permit and demonstrate creativity, but who can inspire and encourage it.
  • Heres to the unsung, often unseen, members of the custodial staff who come in during the empty times to tidy up the mess that life leaves; to the ones who make it easier to face the building every morning, who make it seem as if every day is a fresh start because the floors are clean and the window shades are open.
  • Heres to the teachers who fight for the right to teach a book others might try to erase from the list because it is too controversial, too subversive or too provocative; heres to the teachers who are willing to make the argument for the fact that art and ideas must triumph over dogma and ideology. Or else whats an education for?
  • Heres to the teachers who bother to learn what their students are talking about: who occasionally watch television, who often read the newspaper, and who actually listen to music recorded after 1995. (They dont have to like it -- its enough just to have heard it.)
  • Heres to the teachers who learn their students names and use them, thereby showing respect for the individual child.
  • Heres to the teachers who make it safe to be smart, who enjoy the challenge of students who bring new ideas to the discussion and who reward those who think rather than those who simply repeat what theyve heard.
  • Heres to the teachers who dont think sarcasm and contempt are appropriate methods of instruction.
  • Heres to the ones who teach out of their strength and intelligence and dare to pass along their intellectual passion without apology.
  • Heres to the teachers who know what theyre talking about and remember why its important.
  • Heres to the ones who show up, day after day, and gladly teach.

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    Article by Regina Barreca
    Education World®
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