Encouraging Teachers

January 24, 2016 No Comments »
Encouraging Teachers

By Kelly Carr, Editor

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 2.58.04 PMLooking at Jesus’ teachings inspires me to honor teachers I
 know. But how? I asked some hardworking teachers at various grade levels to describe the kinds of encouragement they’d enjoy.

Dr. Russ Proctor, Professor of Communication, Northern Kentucky University

• Evaluations: “We get course evaluations in college. I appreciate when students take time to make comments. They warm professors’ hearts when they’re positive and cut to the bone when they’re negative. It means so much to learn that a course had a positive impact on your education. If you have criticisms, please do so face to face or in a private email—better yet, do so before the course is over so we can try to rectify the problem.”

• Written thanks: “I keep a folder of thank-you notes and pull them out on rough days to remind me why I do what I do. While saying thank you is important, putting it in print is even better. With social media, I absolutely love getting posts from former students—especially things that remind them of something they learned in one of my classes. It’s rewarding to know that an alum still remembers a lesson/lecture/concept from years ago—and thought of me.” 

• In-depth questions: “This semester I have one of the best classes; I would love to describe why they’re so great or share about the problem student I have in another class, but no one besides my wife asks. I talk with my colleagues a bit, but I wish my friends and family asked more often about my classes and in more depth. Also no one asks about my textbook writing or to see a copy of one of my books. It would mean a lot if loved ones showed genuine interest in that part of my career.”

Lisa, former high school math teacher & Sarah, 8th grade math teacher 

• Team spirit: “All teachers want what is best for the kids. Approaches are different, but we want to help the kids learn. Sometimes that process is rocky. Sometimes we face walls and struggle to make progress. It helps if parents and teachers are a team rather than parents undermining the teacher’s authority. All sides need to work together as much as possible and know that their goals are the same.”

• Discipline support: “If a child is caught cheating, lying, hurting another child, damaging school property, using inappropriate language (all things normal adolescents sometimes do), parents are prone to jump to their child’s defense rather than support the teacher or administration in disciplining the child. (I teach a rather privileged demographic.) It undermines the teacher and doesn’t serve the child. It may send the message that parents will always bail them out of life’s scrapes—something we’re better off to learn is a falsehood as teens than as adults.”

Elizabeth, 2nd grade, Cincinnati

• Card or email: “Kind words from a parent or even a grandparent mean more to me than anything.”

Classroom supplies & books: “Teachers’ budgets only allow us so many supplies, so anything we need beyond that is purchased with our own money. Teachers spend hundreds of dollars a year out of their own pockets to provide for their classrooms. Receiving donated books is also encouraging. I’ve learned over the years that you can never have too many books! There is nothing more exciting to a teacher than to see students get excited over reading; the opportunity to expose your students to a variety of authors or genres is priceless.” 

Laura Longhauser, 2nd grade, Chicago 

• Bring lunch: “Many teachers eat standing at the copy machine or while grading papers. I often have time for half a salad or a pack of peanut butter crackers. I had a grandmother bring me a taco lunch for my birthday, and it made my week. I sat down and enjoyed lunch and it encouraged my spirit.”

• Say thank you: “A thank you for helping a student, for sending home a reminder notice, for showing up at school each day. A little thank you goes a long way on a rough day.”

Offer to help: “Sometimes having a guest reader or an extra pair of hands on the playground help teachers not feel alone and remind them of their purpose.”

Pray: “Teaching is fulfilling and meaningful. But it’s also discouraging and exhausting. So send up a prayer or write out a prayer and send it to a teacher. Knowing we are being lifted up before the Lord while we are grading papers or managing a class is a huge encouragement.” 

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