As Thanksgiving approaches "thankful" curriculum emerges from classrooms. Teachers work with children to surface what they are thankful or grateful for - important lessons in what may be children's first public expressions of gratitude. Children know what is important: noodles, smocks, family, shoes, Ninja Turtles, even sisters. No one would argue that helping children to be thankful is valuable - and so we must also think about how we value our teachers.
A recent Washington Post article - Teacher to Parents - has been posted numerous times on Facebook in the past week or so. In it a teacher explains to parents about why she cannot tell all the details of a particular child who has been identified as "that kid". Teachers must maintain confidentiality but also a commitment to working for, advocating for each child. This means that while much of a teacher's work may be public, there is much that happens behind the scenes that often goes unnoticed, and many times unrewarded. In the past weeks I have seen countless acts of support in classrooms for children, your children. The article is worth a read, especially the list at the end of what a teacher might do daily for a child.
For these things we can be thankful.
Last week NIEER (National Institute of Early Education Research) highlighted findings from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment's new report, Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study. NIEER reinforces what we already know - that early education matters, whether children are home with family members (who are their first teachers) or in family childcare settings, center-based preschools, or in the public schools.
We have far to go in figuring out equity in compensation across settings, but are thankful for those who continue to work with young children in all these types of programs.
In Somerville we are thankful to have received an Early Learning Challenge Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) for the past three years. This funding allows us to look carefully at programming across the city with a goal of making sure every child is ready for kindergarten. We are especially mindful of the alignment of various professional development opportunities for teachers. In the coming year we will work to bring teachers together to share their work with each other - and we will share that work here on these pages.
I am thankful to have such thoughtful and committed teachers across the city to collaborate with as we work for all children.
Thank a teacher this week.