Teachers deserve our gratitude and respect

Headshot of Cecilia Pita

By Cecilia Pita

Teachers have an important job and bear a lot of responsibility as they’re guiding the next generation that will take care of us as we age. Treat them well. Photo: Jacob Lund iStock Getty Images
Teachers have an important job and bear a lot of responsibility as they’re guiding the next generation that will take care of us as we age. Treat them well. Photo: Jacob Lund iStock Getty Images

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance a teacher helped you learn how.

Do you have a teacher that made an impression on you? Mine was Mrs. McWhinnie, and she taught me first grade. She was incredibly patient, encouraging and kind, and made you feel like you were the only student in her class.

Despite all the challenges teachers are often faced with, they work tirelessly preparing their classrooms and lesson plans with the intent of engaging their students, nurturing curiosity and inspiring them. Anyone who chooses education as a career deserves our respect because they are teaching the next generation who will be taking care of us as we age.

So how does one show a teacher respect? Well, I’ve compiled the following short list of suggestions:

  • Acknowledge that teachers are professionals, trained in methodology and know what they’re doing. So, if there is an issue, or you don’t agree with something, approach them with some humility and make an effort to understand their approach.
  • Listen and don’t interrupt. This helps with understanding.
  • Recognize that teachers are people, with their own personal lives, and their time is just as valuable as yours. So, if you have a meeting for example, be on time.
  • Reconsider unreasonable requests. For example, asking for a homework deadline to be pushed to the right because of a conflicting extra curricular activity or party not only disrupts a teacher’s schedule and marking time but is also unfair to the other students who managed to complete the work. Learning to manage time and meet deadlines is a life skill.
  • Respect the guidelines the school and teacher have established for communicating. Whether it’s about cell phones, email, agendas, or social media, do as you’re asked. (Years ago, a student challenged me during one of my workshops and said that she needed to keep her phone on, even during a job interview, just in case her mother called. Similarly, parents these days want to be able to reach their children any time and don’t realize how distracting and disruptive it can be for their own child and everyone else when they call or text in the middle of class.)
  • Appreciate that if you and every other parent in the class emails about an illness, a missing book, technical difficulties, upcoming absence, late homework, an appointment, that’s a lot of emails to get through, in addition to teaching during the day. So, be patient with your teacher.
  • Teach your children to be respectful by not talking back, giving attitude, or using bad language.

Above and beyond

Despite the fact that our children spend more time at school than at home, we cannot defer every aspect of their upbringing to be taught at school. Respect starts at home. Empathy starts at home.

Have you ever tried to teach a class of young students? Being able to keep their interest, and actually teach, while disciplining a rogue few is exhausting. Trying to be enthusiastic and “on” when you might be dealing with your own personal challenges takes a lot out of you, but most teachers love their job and so they power through all of it for the sake of their students.

Let’s not forget that we are very fortunate to have an education system and though it’s not perfect, we need to be grateful for it and share that sentiment with our children so that they can appreciate what they have and not take it for granted. There are children all around the world who don’t have a classroom, let alone a desk and who would give anything for the opportunity to learn.

It has been my experience that teachers go above and beyond, all the time. Let’s please make a concerted effort to treat them well, see them as partners in our children’s education, respect their role in our children’s lives and show our gratitude for them. Then, let’s teach our children to do the same.