Thursday, May 27, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week

Wow, lots of comments on this one! I appreciate them all. I would have liked to hear from some teachers, especially teachers who are also parents.

Let me say first that I hold my kids' teachers in the highest regard. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for what they do. We've been very fortunate to have landed with some really great teachers over the years.

That said, here's my beef:

First of all, this Teacher Appreciation Week came right on the heels of Mother's Day. Now, I'm not going to enumerate all the trials and toils we mothers face in the process of gestating, birthing, and raising these kids, but suffice to say that it involves much blood, sweat, tears, money, sleepless nights, worry, loss of sense of self, sacrifice of bathroom privacy, loss of ability to eat meals without having to share with grubby little fingers, sacrifice of ability to carry on phone conversations, willingness to be pooped on, vomited on, peed on, bled on, have snot wiped upon, and have one's heart stomped upon by doing all of this only to hear, "I want DAAAAADDDDDDYYYYYYY!" And this goes on for years. Not just a measley nine months out of the year. And we mothers don't get paid for what we do, either. Okay, I know teachers are underpaid. But everyone knows they're underpaid. They go into it knowing they're going to be underpaid. I would venture a guess that nobody goes into teaching thinking they're going to become rich from it.

Okay, it's not a contest, but let's get a little perspective here, folks. A week? Really? Whose idea was that? I want a week. Mother's Week. I'm thinking of lobbying the Powers That Be for it, actually.

The whole thing just hit me all kinds of wrong ways. After being asked to shell out money week after week after week all the school year long, I really had to stifle a scream when this flyer came home. It's not that $8 is going to break me (actually $16 since I have twins in kindergarten). It's the principle of it. More money, more money, more money.

I started the school year off by providing a big shopping bag per each of my kids full of supplies for their classrooms. I've written checks for fundraisers. Every field trip costs money now. Public education is no longer free, my friends.

And now this. It just gets to be old, constantly being asked for more.

Not any single item on the list of gifts and treats is problematic. It's all of it taken together. It's A LOT, in my book. The PTA luncheon - who do you think foots the bill for that? So, we're supposed to bring in a little gift AND contribute to the fund for the big group gift? And yeah, at $8 a kid, we're looking at around $240 for a group gift. That's quite a lot!

What bothers me the most is the obligatory nature of it all. None of this is presented as optional. The Room Parents have decided that this is what we're doing to show our appreciation, and we parents are expected to take part, even though nobody asked us what we think. That doesn't sit well with me. And really, how much does required appreciation mean anyway? Isn't something kind of lost in requiring it?

In past years, I have chosen to not take part in the group Christmas gift to the teachers, or the Teacher Appreciation/End of Year teacher gift, because I'd rather show my appreciation on my own, in my own way. That seems more meaningful to me. But I have found that the Room Parents will then hound me about it. I've been shadowed before and after school by Room Parents reminding me (over and over) to turn in my contribution. It's beyond annoying. I told the Room Parent last year that I was getting a gift for the teacher on my own, and she actually got a little pissy with me!

What is it with these Room Parents, anyway? Sometimes it seems like they take their position a little too seriously. Or it seems rather political almost - like, what are they after? Is this how they try to gain status for their kids in the school, or curry favor to get their children placed in the classes they want or something? Or maybe some of them just have too much time on their hands, and being Room Parent is their thing. I actually have a good friend who is a Room Parent in her child's class at a different school, and she told me that there tends to be some competition between some of the Room Parents to do the most, and get the most for their teachers. What the hell is that all about?

Bottom line: I think it's way too much to ask of parents, especially when said parents have been being asked to give, give, give all year long, and chances are, said parents have multiple kids in multiple classes, and are therefore being hit up from all sides. I think one day of Teacher Appreciation would be plenty, and I, personally would appreciate the whole thing being toned down.


Monica Crumley said...

You go, Girl! I totally agree w/ every word and sentiment. I, too, like to do individual things for the teachers. My kids are in parochial school and we have all those same obligatory expenses to pay for ON TOP of tuition. Of course we could choose another school, but that's not the point. Next year I'll have 3 in the same school for one year. Cha-ching!

Stephanie said...

I agree with everything you've said. I get seriously annoyed with all the pushy PTA types but then again I'm pretty much anti-social anyway. I hope this teacher appreciation week thing doesn't catch on here in the heartland. A card and a giftcard would have been plenty. BTW, we recently had "nurses" day and our facility let us wear scrubs of our choice for the day and gave us a free (crappy) cafeteria lunch. $240 would have been much better.

heather said...

I love the idea of 'Mother's Week'! This year our PTA sent home a letter saying it was Teacher Appreciation Week with some ideas of what to send but nothing listed for certain days. I didn't do any of it because I kind of forgot. It's actually easier for me to have it all spelled out. Monday=flowers; Tuesday=homemade card, etc.

doulamom said...

I got ya beat. Last yr. my insane room mom asked for $20.00! from each student. I believe that included money to feed the kids for the "pizza party" at the end of the year too. I was LIVID! but since i'm at the school sneakily I kept my mouth shut...

The Marquez Family said...

As a former teacher, I just want to know where the hell my Teacher Appreciation Week was?!?! I never got anything like this hoopla!! J/k (well, not kidding that I've never worked in a district that did anything remotely close to this). I think the $8, plus the luncheon, plus the other gifts is a bit much. I love the everyone-bring-a-flower-from-the-yard idea. Simple, sweet, personalized and special, and it doesn't even cost anything. I think that plus any ONE of the other things would be more than sufficient.

Megan said...

I didn't get a chance to comment on the other page and when you said you would like to hear from someone who is a teacher and has kids also I thought I'd respond. My son is just starting K this coming year but did PK last year. My whole notion of sending in money to school has changed. It's expensive to be a teacher and have kids in school! As for me, I would NOT at all want or expect such a production from my students or parents. The PTA Luncheon would be more than enough in my book. Wow, $240 for a gift! I don't think my gifts in my 8 years of teaching would add up to that! We usually don't get gifts from kids during Teacher Appreciation Week but we do often get Christmas gifts. I enjoy the gifts that are more personal and honestly, it's the thought that makes me happy. A card with a personal note is wonderful! Needless to say that since my son started school last fall I have been very conscience of what I ask for as far as money is concerned. I have looked over our supply list that we ask for many times to make sure that everything is justified because it's alot. But in the same token, I have begun to spend a lot less in my classroom because of my family. I used to spend megabucks creating things and buying things to make parent gifts at Christmas and other holidays. I now do things that are simple and don't cost a lot because most parents are appreciative of just a card or drawing from their child. I'm not sure if that gives you much insight but that's my thoughts! And by the way- I would love a Mother's Week. Hope you can get that worked out for us!