I’ve blogged previously about the importance of positive teacher relationships. As I move into an administrative role, it’s important for me to remember to help young teachers develop their skills in building positive student/teacher relationships, instead of just building content delivery experts. Once a relationship is built, we will better understand what we can provide our students and their families.
My brother was in his late twenties when he died over five years ago. Whenever someone dies, especially so young, people tend to show up in droves. They want to help, but honestly, it’s difficult to find the right words to give a family that is in such deep grief. A couple of weeks ago, my mom sent me a picture of a card that someone had sent my family after his funeral. This card always meant more than all of the other cards. It’s literally the only one that I can remember.
If you can’t see the image from your device, the card states:
I was so sorry to hear about Jake. He was like a son to me and I will miss him. I can always see his smile and remember how he loved to have a good time. He was always so honest and open with me. I am sorry that I was not at the funeral, but I had been out of town and did not learn about his death until Friday night of the funeral. I had not seen Jake in awhile and I now regret that. The world has lost a person who made you smile and enjoy yourself. I guess he is our gift to God and I am sure he is putting a smile on everyone’s face there. Thanks for letting me be a small part of his life. -Mike
The person who wrote this card was my brother’s high school calculus teacher, Mr. Shultz. He taught two of my brothers. Two weeks ago, my mother, other brother, and myself saw Mr. Shultz at a funeral. We had not seen him since before Jake died. As he embraced my mom, he echoed the sentiments from his card and let her know, “He was like a son to me”. That encounter was moving to me, because it showed the importance of student-teacher relationships. Too many times we just think about how the teacher affects the student, but we often don’t talk about how the students affect the teacher.
We have to do something about the teacher shortage. We have to help our society, lawmakers, and younger generations realize the importance of the profession. It scares me that there have been 182 emergency certificates approved this summer. I have nothing against these individuals that want to teach. As a site-level administrator, once these teachers enter our schools and interact with our students, it’s on me to assist in developing them into the relationship-builders and instructional innovators. I just worry that we’re moving in a direction that will take years to reverse. We need educators that have shown competency in practice, and have had longterm experience witnessing high quality teaching.
We constantly say that an increase in teacher pay will help, and I agree. But, I don’t have a magic bullet for the teacher shortage to be turned around. It will help if we continue to advocate for education, and encourage parents and students to tell their stories. We must show our lawmakers what is important to us, and then hold them accountable if they don’t support public education. If we can’t keep standard certified teachers in the classroom for the long haul, how can we possibly expect to keep emergency certified teachers in the classroom? If we continue to have hundreds of emergency certificates each year, then we will constantly have a revolving door of teachers in our students’ lives. When will our students get to experience those positive student-teacher relationships?
So, I really can’t put a monetary figure on how much a teacher is worth, but I know that they’re worth more than what they are getting. For now, I’ll focus on how much Mr. Shultz was worth to my brother, and how much my brother was worth to one of his teachers.
Thank you, Mr. Shultz.