I rarely speak or write of the NEA in a way that would warm the cockles of that organization’s heart. Their lobbying efforts don’t warrant it.
Individual teachers, however, shouldn’t be punished for their union’s misgivings. That’s why the NEA-sponsored Thank a Teacher website is worth a moment:
On May 4th, NEA unveiled the [teacher thanks] mural at The Cannon House, the oldest congressional office building in Washington, DC. NEA and national leaders joined hundreds of local public school students, their teachers and teachers of the year for the event.
It’s a simple thing – a mural of thank you notes and cards to our teachers, specific and general. Leave one for a teacher you know or for teachers in general.
Praise is a funny thing. I don’t think much of effusive praise for the simplest, most mundane achievements. Teachers shouldn’t be patted on the back for pulling in $60,000 + full benefits, as many middle-of-the-road teachers in my local district do, for showing up to work [summers not included, obviously] and fulfilling the obligations of their contract. As professionals, they shouldn’t want praise for doing the bare minimum. Teachers aren’t heroes for choosing the profession; they’re heroes when they do their job well.
But everyone needs a ‘thank you’ or show of appreciation now and again, no matter the profession. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a parent who thanks his kid’s teacher for communicating well or for your kid having an all-around good day, or you’re just a taxpayer who appreciates that your school taxes are paying the salary of an asset to your community. It doesn’t need to be much – just thank a teacher now and again.