Ok, I’ll be honest. I saw a link to the US Teacher Appreciation Day and, because I read it too quickly, I thought it was going to be on the 8th of June rather than the 8th of May. Today I was going to talk about how important it is to recognise the value and contribution of teachers every day – especially for me as someone who gets students after 12 years of successful learning! (World Teachers’ Day is on October the 5th, if you’re curious.)
However, instead, I went to look up if anyone actually had today as their national teaching day and, fortunately for me, it turns out that Bolivia celebrates their Teachers’ Day today (Wikipedia link). (Where today is in Australian time zones, sorry, confused people reading this on the 5th and saying “Martha! That boy’s gone mad again!”)
But reading through that Wikipedia page made me appreciate how differently, including sincerely, we value teachers. Sometimes it’s part of a “Teachers’ Week”, sometimes it stands alone. Sometimes gifts are given, except where this might amount to bribery so the schools get closed (citation seriously needed here, because that’s a very big claim to base on a Wikipedia article!) Sometimes teachers get the day off, or half day off.
Some countries have students visiting their past and present teachers to bring gifts or show their appreciation. Apparently, in some countries, teachers get together and celebrate their profession by going out.
It doesn’t really matter what is done, after all, as long as the activity is sincere and recognises the teacher for teaching you well, listening, helping or contributing to your progress. But I really like the idea of teachers themselves getting together to say “Yeah! We’re teachers! We do an important job and we are doing it well. Hooray for us!”
There’s no worse way to celebrate a day by making a token gesture – it’s really better not to. (Any secretaries out there who have received a joke t-shirt that says “I’m with stupid” on Secretary’s Day know what I’m talking about.) But it’s not about being recognised by other people, it’s about taking the time to look back at your year and think about everything that’s happened. It’s about recognising what you have done, despite resourcing issues, increasing pressure, decreasing salaries and a changing world.
It’s about thinking about what it means to be a teacher – whether you are a student or a teacher.
So, teachers, wherever you are, have a happy Bolivian Teachers’ Appreciation Day and a good year to come.