What to Get Teachers This Holiday Season 

Tammy Berlin

The holiday shopping season is in full swing.  As you rush around selecting just the right gift for all the people in your life, don’t forget your teachers.  Whether you’re a principal, a district administrator, a legislator, a parent, or a student, here’s what you can get the teachers on your list.  

From Principals:  

  • Protect our time.  Yes, there may be a vacant sub position (or two, or three, or more), but we really need our planning period to prepare for our students.  Please do absolutely everything you can to find another way to cover those classes. Also, we need our time before and after school for the same reason, so please keep those faculty meetings to an absolute minimum.  We promise we’ll read your emails if you use them to communicate information that you would normally share in a faculty meeting. We’ll appreciate the extra time.  
  • Make us feel supported when we have to manage student behavior.  Trust that we’ve already tried every reasonable and necessary intervention before we ask for your help in dealing with that problematic student behavior, and know that if we’ve called on you for help it really is urgent.  The rest of our students are patiently waiting on your assistance, so that we can get back to teaching them.  
  • Involve us in collaborative decision-making.  We are the people who actually have to implement every local policy at our school, so it only makes sense to have a say in developing those policies.  Real collaborative decision making means that we are involved in every step of the decision making process, from identifying what problems our school needs to address, to considering and evaluating all of the possible solutions, and choosing the best solution for our school.  It does NOT mean imposing external mandates from the District on us or identifying problems and developing solutions by yourself, then asking us for our “feedback” on the decisions you’ve basically already made.  

From District Leadership:  

  • Please refrain from issuing top-down directives to our administrators.  We need local autonomy. We know every student by name and care for them as our own.  Please trust us to know what to do and how to make the best decisions for our schools.  
  • Give us the resources that we need.  Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy books, art supplies, and everything else we need to make learning fun, engaging, and meaningful to our students.  Making sure that we have what we need to teach is the most important thing you can do to make JCPS better for us all.

From Legislators:  

  • We need a raise.  We work really hard, we spend our own money on our students, and we are highly trained professionals who deserve to be paid accordingly.  And don’t forget our support staff: classroom assistants, bus drivers, secretaries, janitors, and everyone else that makes school happen on a day to day basis.  Those folks are angels on earth, and we’d be lost without them.  
  • Protect our benefits.  For the work we do every day, our salaries are a real bargain.  Please make sure that our insurance and pensions are there to take care of us.  We just want to teach our kids. Please don’t make us come to Frankfort to fight for our benefits.  

From Parents:  

  • Thank you for allowing us to teach your children.  We love them almost as much as you do, and just like you, we only want the best for them.  We’re on the same team. Please trust and affirm our decisions, and on those occasions when we have to contact you about your child’s behavior, please be supportive and present a united front with us.  Your child’s academic efforts and behavior are both so much better when they see that we all have the same expectations.  

From Students:  

  • You’re the reason why we get up every morning and do what we do.  We care about you and want the absolute best future for you. All we want in return is for you to always give us your very best effort and cooperation.  

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