Sunday, January 20, 2019

Eagle Butte

Educators need love too

Three weeks left of school, and I am driven to get all in order for the summer.

The list of tasks is long, and ranges from work to home to travel-related closure or preparation activities.

When I think too far down the list, I become overwhelmed, so I try to think of what is now and next, and sometimes what is third down from now.

The kicker is when I am asked to do something on my list that is five or six down, and I am forced occasionally to revise the order to accommodate someone else’s schedule needs. These moments are mere hiccups, but hiccups can be violent and annoying nonetheless. 

For educators in America, there are three major busy times of year: the beginning of the school year, winter break and the end of the school year.

August/September, December/January and April/May are crazy months for teachers and other education staff members.

Winter break here in Eagle Butte begins with the Lakota Nation Invitational and is followed by the end of the first semester, so while it is a long two and a half week break, the LNI involvement and worry about the pending semester grades make the holiday season a tad more stressful. 

Too many people think that teaching is a cushy job, with summers and holidays to kick back and relax. The reality is far from that perception.

There are other negative perceptions of teaching too that should be debunked — like the idea that teachers can get all of their grading and planning done in one hour a day during prep time. It simply is not possible for most teachers, regardless of how many years they have taught to get all grading done in class, so evenings, weekends and yes, holidays, are often taken up with grading and planning.

Teachers work more than 40 hours a week, longer than the designated school year, and most teachers have a second or summer job.

While there are a thousand skills and methods teachers could change or improve on to be better in their professions, there are a million skills and methods they use that are excellent.

While there are teachers who are better than others, every teacher has a strength worth respecting and honoring.

Each teacher I know has a list as long if not longer than mine this time of year. They are supporting seniors and underclassmen in pushing to get work in and done well, preparing inventory lists, ensuring all paperwork is in order, projects are completed, plans are ready for next year, and their own personal lives and families are ready for the summer months.

As we enter the month of May, please thank a teacher. Forgive them for their mistakes, and support them in their efforts to do the best job they can for the children and subsequently for the community at large.

Working in education is often a thankless job, and I know few if any educators who ever entered the profession and stayed in it to merely collect a paycheck. Educators who don’t like to teach youth in our public schools find other jobs outside of teaching.

If your teacher, administrator or other staff member is still teaching in your schools year after year, that means that no matter their challenges and frustrations, they still feel that teaching your children in our public schools, more than anything else, is a worthy and necessary pursuit. Their presence alone shows they care.

Hug or high five a teacher today. They deserve to know you care too.