Beyond Appreciation

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I recently returned from “Washington Recognition Week” in our nation’s capital and all I can say is that I wish every teacher across Kentucky could be doted on as I and my fellow State Teachers of the Year (STOYs) were during this week.  It was an incredible time.

Kentucky Teacher of the Year Kristal Doolin with her husband, Terry, and daughter, Tara. with the Jefferson Memorial behind them. Photo submitted by Kristal Doolin
Kentucky Teacher of the Year Kristal Doolin with her husband, Terry, and daughter, Tara, with the Jefferson Memorial behind them. Photo submitted by Kristal Doolin

From our time at the White House, to our visit with Dr. Jill Biden at her home and our work at the U.S. Department of Education, gratitude seemed to be the order of the week.

In an effort to pay it forward, as we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-11), I’d like to thank both my former teachers and fellow teachers across the state.  I invite everyone who reads this to do the same. As President Obama said during our ceremony in the Rose Garden, “If there’s one thing we can’t say enough to our nation’s educators, it is ‘thank you.’”  I quite agree, Mr. President.

However, we can go further than simply saying “thank you.”  I believe the key to impressing upon teachers how much they are valued and keeping good teachers in the field goes beyond appreciation.  Teachers are consummate professionals who look for “teachable moments” in life the way doctors seek new medical solutions.

While in Washington D.C., for example, I found a plethora of experiential learning opportunities for my daughter and, as she did in Arizona, she recorded her learning to share with her classmates while I blogged about my experiences with my students.  After returning from our time in D.C., as planned, she shared her experiences with her 3rd-grade classmates through a video she made on her iPad.

In the week after we returned, my daughter was invited to share her video and speak to four other classes in her school.  The fact that this was a success and links to common core is like hitting the bull’s eye of the target for me. That is what teachers get excited about – in or out of the classroom.

Kentucky Teacher of the Year Kristal Doolin during her visit to Washington D.C. at the library for the Department of Education.
Kentucky Teacher of the Year Kristal Doolin during her visit to Washington D.C., at the library for the Department of Education.

I agree with President Obama when during that same speech he said, “Teaching is a profession and it should be treated like one.”  This rang true when during our time at the U.S. Department of Education later in the week, my fellow STOYs and I were introduced to the RESPECT project. RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching), according to our own Commissioner of Education, Terry Holiday, “…is a great initiative.”  It is the result of a two-year effort led by the U.S. Department of Education that involves educators across the nation and several professional organizations lifting teaching to the level deserving of such a profession. RESPECT is not another federal mandate, but is a revolutionary effort that starts with educators. I invite all educators to visit http://www.ed.gov/teaching . Review and discuss the RESPECT document (which was embargoed until recently, but is now available).  See how schools and districts are already working toward a new vision of teaching.  I personally applaud the effort and look forward to the day when teaching is treated at a level equivalent to other professions and each “thank you” is the icing on the cake made of RESPECT.

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