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Inspiration to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week

Small chalkboard sign that reads, "Happy Teacher's Day"

Your efforts and dedication to education is needed and appreciated far more than you know.

Two, four, six, eight—who do we appreciate? Teachers, of course!

Perpetually hard-working and perennially underappreciated, teachers shape our future by molding our children's minds and hearts. But teaching is a tough job and that's why it's important that we take proper time to recognize and thank them.

Further Reading: My Inspiration to Be a Teacher

Whether they're in the classroom for a year or for life, teachers deserve appreciation for their important work shaping young minds. To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked educators about their teaching journeys. The answers we received were inspiring and insightful.

Why Do You Teach?

Some people, it seems, were just born to do this work. Others feel the calling through life experience or a series of events that leads them to teach. Maybe they worked in a corporate job but felt a need for more meaningful connection, to make a tangible difference.

"I always loved to teach," says Nancy Barile, an educator who teaches just outside of Boston. "I felt I had a 'gift' for it. I'd sit in class in high school thinking of ways I'd teach the lesson to help kids understand it better."

Whether destiny or dumb luck, the ways teachers entered the field are myriad, but it's the why that provides meaning in their work and helps them endure tough times in the profession: the kids.

Sure, there will be days where you don't love every student in your class. But being catalysts for change and growth in young people's lives is a unique and powerful opportunity. It helps us survive the tough days. It gives us that weird feeling we can't explain at the end of summer break when we're ready for school to start. (The same one we kick ourselves for two weeks into the new school year.)

It's hard to explain the connection we have with our students, but it's what keeps us coming back for more.

What Would You Be Doing If You Weren't Teaching?

Don't get it twisted: teachers are qualified to do more than teach. We're teachers, but we're also counselors, writers, editors, equipment managers, custodians, and teammates. We're experts in at least one subject. We're superheroes in street clothing—well, at least on casual Fridays.

But if we hadn't picked education, what would we have done? The teachers we spoke to gave a range of answers: journalist, sports broadcaster, event coordinator, publicist, musician, scientist.

Though disparate, these careers share overlapping skill sets, and those skills—such as communication skills, the ability to work with people, self-expression, teamwork—make for great teachers, too. Even in our alternate careers, the blueprint of a teacher's spirit shines through.

We're sure you would've been great at whatever job you chose. But thanks for choosing to be a teacher. We appreciate you.

What Keeps You in the Classroom?

Numbers don't lie, and the numbers here tell us that not everyone who starts in education stays in it for the long haul.

What makes the committed stick it out? Survey says:

  • "You are making a difference in kids' lives."
  • "The job is extremely challenging, but it's also rewarding, and I know I'm making a positive difference in the world."
  • "Other teachers in the building inspire me to keep going. They are some of my closest friends. It's not always easy, but eight years in, that keeps me motivated."

We survive the early years the same way we endure later on. Being a teacher is about loving and connecting with people.

What Advice Would You Give a Prospective Teacher?

Our teachers' answers speak for themselves:

  • "Love kids, even when it's hard. Understand that they, like you, are not perfect. Don't take their bad behavior personally—even when it feels that way."
  • "Survive year one. Embrace the odd feeling of being humbled by 11-year-olds. Make a note of how you've grown. Focus on the positives."
  • "Teaching is like swimming. You can read about it all you want, but that won't make you better at it. Nor will it help you know if it's the right job for you. Dive off the deep end. Sink or swim—you'll figure it out soon enough."
  • "Have good teacher friends. Your mom or spouse won't always understand teacher life. They're trying to be helpful when they suggest that maybe it's time to find a new job during testing season. But your teacher friends know what to do. They say, 'Hey, there's a latte and a pound of chocolate on your desk. Now get back in there, champ.'"

Further Reading: 5 Reasons to Love Teaching

Teacher Appreciation Week

Whether you're considering becoming a teacher or you're already a grizzled classroom veteran, we appreciate you. Thank you for making a difference in young people's lives. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!