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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Student Appreciation Week
By Daniel Kerr 05-Apr-17
A friend of mine recently shared a beautiful little story with me. He was running late for work one morning because his brother was staying with him, along with his niece and nephew, and his morning routine was thrown out of whack. When he checked the clock and saw what time it was he frantically yelled to his wife from the crowded breakfast table, “Honey, hurry up—we’re not going to catch the ferry!” Hearing this, his little six-year-old niece looked up at him with astonishment, excitement, and hope and exclaimed, “Wait a minute, you can catch fairies!!??” Well, not only did this story put a small lump in my throat, it also got me thinking about the beauty and innocence of children, and how if you really think about it, it’s children (all the way up to our graduating seniors) who are the world’s greatest teachers. You see, as educators most of us (if not all of us) got into this amazing profession because we wanted to make a positive impact in the lives of kids, and to play our part in shaping and inspiring their individual futures as well as the future of our world… and you know what? We do this everyday. Teachers work incredibly hard and are easily my favorite people on the planet, and they deserve to be recognized way more than they are. But here’s the thing: when I really think about it, the best part of being a teacher and the true secret behind why we love it so much is that we may just get more out of this than we put in. Here’s what I mean… When I think about how much I’ve given to kids over the past 20 years or so, all over the world and all across the grade levels, I honestly don’t think it adds up to what my students have given to me. If I think of all the incredible life lessons that I’ve learned over the years, and all of the magical moments in my life, and the best belly laughs, and the person and leader and father that I’ve become—it’s all because of what I’ve learned from children. Their innocence and honesty, their willingness to shake off mistakes and try again, their ten-foot-tall and bulletproof approach to life, and their ability to live truly in the present—all of the things that go into making a beautiful life—teachers get a chance to see this every second of every day. And if we are worth our salt, it reminds us and inspires us to live this way ourselves, and to be this way for others. I don’t think we recognize enough the immense and immeasurable and beautiful contribution that children give to our world, and the positive effect that they have on us as adults. I think we all too often see ourselves as the keepers of the knowledge, and the ones who are going to make everything okay here on Earth, but we might just be getting this backwards. I think that every school everywhere should plan a student appreciation week for next year, much like our annual teacher appreciation weeks, where we spend five days (not nearly enough) doing nothing but thanking, celebrating, and recognizing all that our students give to us! It wouldn’t be hard at all to plan, and it would be super fun to get creative with it, but the message would be the right one to send. Field days, pizza parties, teachers serving kids breakfast and lunch, giving kids loads of time to research and share their passions during the day, and a beginning and end of the week assembly to bookend this incredible week—it’s crazy that we haven’t been doing this all along. So, as you’re planning next year’s calendar, take a second to think about who really and truly needs to be celebrated in your communities—the kids—and set aside some time to give them what they deserve. We don’t do this enough and there’s no better time to start than now. l Dan Kerr is currently the Intermediate School Principal at Academia Cotopaxi in Quito, Ecuador. He blogs for TIE at blog.tieonline.com
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