Our education system has a lot of problems. Here are some things teachers have to be thankful for:
1. Working copiers.
I was always one of the first people in my school every day (arriving around 6 a.m.) so that I could have first dibs on whichever copier was available and/or working. Of the four copiers in the building, only two were specified for teacher use, and these were usually both locked until shortly before the start of the school day. I had to get there early to use one of the administrative copiers (supposedly for the exclusive use of three people) before anyone else arrived to yell at me.
2. Good janitors.
I definitely didn’t take my janitors for granted as a teacher. Whether I was in my trailer or inside the building, I relied on my janitors to make sure my room was as clean as possible each morning when I arrived in the dark. Having a clean classroom can make a huge difference in teacher morale!
3. Strong school buildings.
If you’re lucky enough to teach in a new building, you better make sure you thank your lucky stars. I taught in a pretty old building which was better than others but definitely worse than average. My second classroom boasted a hole in the wall that frequently emitted vile odors from the plumbing that ran from the boy’s bathroom next door. We also lost electricity pretty easily, though somehow we were never allowed to go home.
4. Supportive administration.
Especially in struggling schools, administrators who do their jobs and actively support their teachers are key to the success of everyone in the building. Teachers need administrators who provide useful and frequent feedback on instruction, respond to reports of student misconduct, and work to create a more positive school culture. I was fortunate to have an assistant principal who did all of these things, and she also went one step beyond by sending me notes of encouragement if she heard that I’d had a rough day.