Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day, Today and Every Day!

    It is Teacher Appreciation Day! Hooray! The day that we celebrate everything that teachers do for us, and if you’re lucky, get an extra burrito at Chipotles!

    What has a teacher done for you recently? Well, pretty much everything, actually. The fact that I’m writing this is thanks to a teacher, and the fact that you’re reading it is thanks to a teacher, too. Or because you follow me on Facebook. Catch Shakespeare Fever. Teachers also put up with a lot, let’s face it. Not just from the students anymore, but from pretty much anyone with a megaphone and a belief that schools are indoctrination centers and teachers are all brainwashers.

    Sorry, I’ve wanted to get to that last bit ever since I saw it going around some ex-friends on Facebook. That was just obscenely harsh, and if it’s something you believe, you should probably go, now. I don’t mean from this post. I mean from wherever you are, and apologize.

    Moving on.

    The closer I get to being a real, live, teaching teacher, the more I realize that teaching is a very unique profession. Also, that “teaching” as a profession is very different than “instructing”. I know what you’re thinking, “this is going to be a long post.” Probably not. We’ll see. Just bare with me for a moment.

    “Instructing” is a unique challenge. We instruct all the time... probably in your job now at some point you’ve had to instruct on something to do. Instruction is easy, you get up there and you recite some facts, and hopefully they stick, like a handful of aspirin that’s tossed casually at someone’s mouth. “Teaching” as a profession requires so much more. It requires the ability to not just instruct someone in the basic facts or how to do something, you have to make them WANT to learn.

    Wanting to learn and being able to learn are just as different, and making someone want to learn is a very unique ability. It involves presenting the material in a way that doesn’t suck, and isn’t boring. Let’s take my love for example, Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare, but I’ll be the first to tell you that under the right light, it’s boring as hell. A bunch of old guys talking about old things and not even speaking English? What’s up with that? How are we supposed to relate?

    I was lucky. When I was learning about this Shakespeare guy, it was taught to me in a way I could relate to. Hamlet wasn’t a boring story about a guy trying to kill his father. It was one part ghost story, one part revenge story, and some deception thrown in there. King Lear isn’t just an old guy dividing up his land, it’s a tale of a father’s love gone horribly, horribly wrong. These are all relevant even today. I fell in love with Othello because Patrick Stewart did a version of it that turned everything on it’s head.

    Good teachers find the angle that will turn a student onto any subject, whether it’s the ghost story angle, the type of math, a section of history, or the Patrick Stewart factor. Let’s not forget the measure of Patrick Stewart in something... that can be the difference between it being awesome, or it just being a mere Wesley Crusher.

    Yeah. I know Wil Wheaton is cool now. Never. Forget. Wesley. Crusher. People.

    Never forget.

    So, let’s raise a glass of whatever to those teachers we appreciate today, May 7th, as part of Teacher Appreciation Day. Then let’s take some time to remember that teachers have to work harder and more creatively than most of us, and raise another glass to them tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

    You get the idea.

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