We appreciate America’s teachers!

By Hans Meeder

This first week of May 2016 is known as Teacher Appreciation Week.  My wife Lisa teaches fifth grade and has received several expressions of appreciation and encouragement this week from both her students and their parents.  Her school is one where there is a great deal of parental involvement and support for both the students and the school.

I hope that teachers at the middle school and high school levels also know and are affirmed with what an important a role they play in the development of our nation’s youth.  Everyone who has made a successful transition to adulthood had at least one caring and supportive adult in their lives; teachers often play that pivotal role in the life of a student.  I know for me, my 10th grade journalism teacher and school newspaper teacher advisor (11th and 12th grades), played a big role in helping me discover some of my interests and aptitudes.

Unfortunately, the Gallup Organization’s national survey of student engagement shows that students become progressively less engaged as they move from elementary to middle to high school.  Gallup focused on a student’s social and emotional connections, which is also correlated with academic achievement.  One factor at play in the lack of student engagement I believe is, by the nature of school schedules which has them teaching five to seven individual classes at any one time, which makes it more difficult for teachers to get to know their students.  That’s why a sequence of career pathways or CTE classes, often taught by the same teacher over multiple years, is so valuable in helping students form a bond with their teacher.  An advisory class where the teacher stays with the same group of students as they move from one grade to the next also provides more continuity and the chance for building stronger relational bonds.

My colleagues and I at NC3T are committed to helping school districts adopt a pathways model to create stronger connections among students and between students and teachers. 

Even as this work is far from finished, I want to reaffirm how thankful all of us are for our teachers.  We deeply appreciate the positive impact they have on our youth, even as they manage many personal and professional pressures.   We want to create a positive, supportive environment for you to be as successful as possible.  Keep up the amazing work, American teachers!